A journal of the day: Betty!


by cheri

There she is two years ago picking olives for us.

My mother-in-law Betty is 91 1/2 -years-young and still living independently in her home, a two-story.

Although she confesses to moving  more slowly and skipping her afternoon walk with her small Yorkie-poo Lilly,  Betty still travels up and down her carpeted stairs to her bedroom and although the love of her life, Doug, passed away several years ago, she is still in “the game,” reading her iPad daily, watching hip movies on Netflix and checking in with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, one of which is sixteen.

Last year, she had a flat-screened television installed and new bed in her guestroom in case ” she needs live-in help someday. ” She has made the decision not to go into a senior living facility unless she absolutely has to do so.

I find Betty to be wholly inspirational and true member of the Greatest Generation. She is a determined woman with common sense. Imagine! A person with common sense, one who doesn’t overthink every little decision.

She still has a glass of wine (or two) at 5:00 PM, still maintains a  flower garden, and still commands the respect of her adult children (some of whom are approaching 70 years old themselves).

This month, Betty and her 94-year-old sister Ellen, will be picking olives for our annual olive harvest again.

I read in the Wall Street Journal this past week that the projection that baby-boomers (not the Greatest Generation) will gravitate toward senior living arrangements has not proven to be true. Turns out, many of us have made the decision to do exactly what Betty has done: stay in our homes and not downsize to a small apartment unless physical maladies make it impossible to do so.

The advantages, if one can financially, mentally, and physically do it, are many.

Most importantly, you maintain age diversity in your life. How wonderful to have a neighbor in her 40’s or 50’s who provides a different point of view! How wonderful to see children playing, kids screaming Marco Polo in the pool and try this one on for size: trick or treaters!

You continue to move your body to the grocery story, the mail box, and God knows, up and down stairs if you have them. If you can’t drive, you can take a taxi.

You do some or all of your own cleaning and cooking.

You put your trash can out and in.

You stay 100% in the game of life.

You keep your independence and confidence.

You go girl!



About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Aging, fitness, Growing Olives, Life, People and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to A journal of the day: Betty!

  1. shoreacres says:

    Such a lovely tribute. Every time I hear someone refer to people in their sixties as “elderly,” I have to laugh. There are some twenty-somethings I know who seem far more elderly than most of my seventy and eighty year old friends. Openness to the world and engagement with it can do a lot for a person!

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you, Linda. Your last sentence is gold. We must practice this engagement until the end. Betty surely has had good luck in the health category, unlike my mother. She has good genes and common sense.

      I’ve simplified this process of choosing to stay in a home or apartment rather than going to a senior living place. I know that. Perhaps it is my projection!

      • shoreacres says:

        Well, I’m in the process of moving myself — at the end of this month. I’m giving up the 3rd story view of water and sky for a first floor, smaller apartment in the same complex. I’ve been fussing over the decision for some time, and it’s just time — not because of any physical necessity, but just because of the financial savings, and being able to snag one of the small apartments. There aren’t many of them here, and when I discovered two were available, I just made the decision. I committed to it on about 10/15, and I’ll move 12/1. In the meantime, things are rather chaotic here — but the books are packed!

        • Cheri says:

          You are wise to grab a first-floor more affordable apartment now. Making this type of move is a smart financial decision. You will still be in your element, close to the water and boats, and snug. Moving is never easy. By the way, I just took Kayti out for lunch. She and Sam are moving down South to be closer to their daughter, grandson and family and little ones. They are moving into a small house, so Sam will have something to do. It is a bittersweet moment for me. I will miss our lunches and the inspiration up close and personal. But it is better for them and for their 13-year-old Jack Russell, Charlie.

  2. Lue Perrine says:

    Betty is so amazing and such a
    beautiful person inside & out! 💖
    Thank you Cheri for your encouraging words!
    YOU are such an inspiration to me. Truly! 🥰

    • Cheri says:

      Betty IS amazing. I can see why your dear son Mathew named his second daughter Betty Lue! Two remarkable women’s names fused into one for an adorable child.

  3. Bruce Brown says:

    Betty your doing exactly what it takes to lead a very full life. Your as beautiful today as you were
    when I was introduced to you. Enjoy every minute of your life. All the best Bruce and Arlene Brown

  4. 4brig says:

    I love that Betty is still going strong, and able to stay in her home. You are right about the activity and interaction with diverse ages being much better for quality of life.

    At 72 I moved whole house four times last year, though not once (so far) this year. The adventure continues…

    • Cheri says:

      You are another one of those inspirational and amazing people for me. Four moves in one year and you still find the beauty in everything. I hope you are finally settled for awhile.

  5. LeslieG says:

    Dad, who will be 88 next month, spent one year in a (very expensive) retirement community that was supposed to give him the opportunity to be active, social and happy. The complete opposite happened and he immediately took a turn for the worse. His main complaint was his didn’t like all the “old people.” He became depressed, awkward and anti-social. Biggest mistake we ever made. We are moving him out next week, closer to family and he couldn’t be happier!

    • Cheri says:

      Dear Leslie (my wonderful former student), thank you for this marvelous comment. As you know, we were fortunate to see both of your parents at the Irvings’ party last August and thought your dad looked great. Ron had a wonderful conversation with him. I assume he did well with his surgery and am happy to learn you are rescuing him…

  6. Carol Irene McCann says:

    What a lovely lady. She is one after my own heart. Stay active and independent is the best way to live ones life. I for one am taking this attitude to my grave, many years hence, of course.!!!.

    • Cheri says:

      Although you are much younger than Betty, you are right up there on the top shelf with all of the trophies. Talk about vim and vigor. And yes, of course!!

  7. Sharon says:

    Love this!

  8. Chris says:

    She is a wonderful lady

  9. Tiffany Leathers says:

    It only took one meeting of Betty to remember her spunk and style! This makes me smile.

    • Cheri says:

      As one woman with a lot of style and spunk yourself, you would recognize those qualities. And if this post makes you smile, then I have succeeded in my goal. You, too, have some remarkable “old” women in your family. Elaine and Dottie, to name several.

  10. Richard says:

    Betty is remarkable and is to be commended for her determination to remain independent and active. She is an example to follow.

    Whilst many, through lack of will, neglect or ignorance decline rapidly, it must not be forgotten that a measure of good luck is also required to survive to an advanced age before the inevitable occurs. Others are overtaken, through no fault of their own, by illness, or by force of circumstance, or by accident. We must also remember those who lay down or shorten their lives to protect our freedoms and enable us to reach our full span.

    • Cheri says:

      You are absolutely right about having a little luck. My mother did not have that luck despite her intentions and dealt with horrible limitations in her 70’s and 80’s. I wonder, often, about the souls of those young people who lost their lives at 17 years of age in war. I wonder but such wonder does not provide me with answers or with comfort.

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