“How does it feel to be 100?” I asked Mimi. The second the words popped out, I knew it was one of the dumbest questions I had ever uttered.
“Very much like it felt to be 99,” Mimi answered. As you can tell, Mimi’s a lot sharper than I am!
An active member of the 60+ Program at the bustling 92nd Street Y in Manhattan until the last couple of years, Mimi would attend weekly current events discussion groups led by Douglas, my ex. They became pals, and over the last decade Douglas has often visited Mimi at her apartment where they talk for hours and have dinner. Douglas loves to learn about everyone’s family history. As a matter of fact, he knows more about my family than I do!
Mimi, an only child, became an orphan by the time she was six months old. Her mother’s brother adopted her, but Mimi told Douglas that his wife never treated her lovingly, as she did with her biological children. A graduate of the University of Chicago when women were scarce on college campuses, Mimi worked in a munitions factory during World War II and then became an early education teacher and guidance counselor. She married twice, to a lawyer and a labor union organizer, and had two daughters. Betsy teaches at Brooklyn Law School and Jane is a retired professor of anthropology at Cornell University.
Mimi also passed her smart genes down to her grandchildren. Granddaughter Vanessa went to Harvard and now works for world-renowned American economist Jeffrey Sachs. Her sister Allison worked for a climate think tank. Grandson Nicky graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School and worked for President Obama.
“We are all here hoping to follow in my mother’s footsteps. She’s progressive, adventuresome and loyal, a devoted and inspired grandmother, and a favorite of all my friends in Ithaca,” daughter Jane said during the toast.
Up until she was about 95, Mimi did hours of Tai chi each week, which Douglas credits for her wonderful attitude and good health. Mimi once told Douglas that if she was younger, she would want to marry him! She sure is a pistol.
Happy Hundredth, Mimi. And many many more!