THREE SENIOR LOVE STORIES

❤️ When my Grandma Rifka died at seventy-five, my Zayda Mutka was bereft. He was twelve years older and you’d think he’d be content to live with his memories for his twilight years. Instead, he offered to take me to Paris—this was in 1970—to visit my grandmother’s family. I wore outfits in the fashionable style of the mademoiselles and ventured out daily to museums, shops…

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Turning Over a New Leaf

I was the victim of a scam when I was in eighth grade. The library was my safe haven. On the way home from school, I stopped in at the main branch to get a start on my homework. I wasn’t on a sports team, not my thing. I didn’t need to stay after school for glee club rehearsals — I failed the audition. I…

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Hometown of my Heart: What Life Brought at Sixteen

When I was a high school junior in 1961, my classmate, Barbara D., was killed instantly in a car accident. The driver was her friend, in the next higher grade. It shocked me, a sixteen year old, that someone I knew died. Even my four grandparents were still alive. I didn’t know her well, other than that she was smart, friendly, and destined to do…

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Hometown of my Heart: Winter Postscript

The seasons of the year in New England are distinct, demarcating almost exactly at the three-month mark. Each asserts its strong identity, worthy of poetry. In New Jersey, spring comes earlier, fall arrives later, playing games with the calendar. Tonight, cozy in front of a crackling fire, I muse at the moonlit winter scene outside my window. Memory transports me to another winter, sixty years ago,…

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Hometown of my Heart

Linden, New Jersey is surrounded by the industrialized New Jersey Turnpike and the congested Garden State Parkway. Most know it by the huge Bayway Oil Refinery visible from the Turnpike as they pass through the state from somewhere else to somewhere else. But to me, Linden was my hometown from 1949 to 1972, the scene of my first day of kindergarten with Miss Standish at…

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FOOD STORIES (part two)

I remember every detail of my Grandma Weiner’s kitchen on the first floor of the two family house in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The flooring, a solid piece of colorful marbled linoleum, curled up at the edges where the glue thinned out. The sink faced the neighbor’s house so Grandma could watch them through the window, going in and out of their side door. The Frigidaire sat…

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FOOD STORIES

THE APPLE ADVENTURE: My grandfather had a saying that has come down through our family lore, “Honesty isn’t the best policy—it’s the only policy.” All I have to do is think of my dear grandparents—all four of them—and how they lived their lives. That set my moral compass. One of my goals in life is to honor them always, and it is with them in…

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The Little Holiday That Could

Tonight, the first night of Chanukah, I take out the brass menorah and crack open the box of multi-colored candles. Setting it on my mantel, I am ready to share with you my lifelong experience of the little holiday that has its eight days of minor glory. It’s a Jewish holiday, but not really a religious holiday—no services or solemn remembrance—more of a nod to…

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Music to my Ears

I lost my dad Julius in 1980 when he was sixty-seven. At the time, I thought that was old. Now I’m older than he ever got to be. My father learned to play the trombone in the high school marching band. From there, he became an audiophile and developed a love for every kind of music. Dad became expert in all of the new renditions…

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Origin Story

In my 71st year, going into my third as a widow, I decided to join a newly formed literary discussion group at the local library on Saturday afternoons. It was a step out of darkness, away from the mourning, then grieving, first for my husband, then for my mother ten months later. I had not understood—how could I have known—that recovering from three years of…

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Faithful Friends

I don’t have any pets now. But over the years, we took many different species into our home or yard, including dogs, cats, Oxfordshire sheep, chickens to lay eggs, iguanas, gerbils, turtles, fish. I remember when we found a tortoise wandering on the lawn with a shell the size of a toilet seat. We escorted him back to the lake, never to be seen on…

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Ground Zero

THE VISIT: On August 15th, I visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City for the first time. I approached the site with trepidation, not sure if I could withstand the fearsome presence of that day like no other. Unlike me, the victims of the plane crashes and the collapse of the buildings had no choice. The first responders did not think twice, many punished…

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Roommates, the Risks and Rewards

When my cousin Donna slept over my house in Linden for the weekend, we stayed awake through the night, giggling, telling secrets, pretending we were movie stars. When I slept over her house in Elizabeth, we did the same. Neither of us had sisters, and anyway, sometimes cousins get along better than siblings. On the other side of my family, my mom’s, I was one…

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Getting Away

ROUTE ONE INTO THE DEEP SOUTH—JANUARY 1955 When I was ten years old, I left New Jersey to hit the open road in the back seat of my grandfather’s gray Buick Special. Whenever we visited my mom’s parents in Glen Cove, Long Island, my “Zayda” took us for Sunday drives. But this was different—this was big. My mom Rose and my little brother Stuart would fly…

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Reflections on the Long and Winding Road

In some retirements, the lucky worker gets a gold watch and a pension. In my case, on a not especially memorable day in December 2016, nothing earth-shattering happened. I informed the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers that I did not plan to renew my license. They briefly explained how to remove my name online from the rolls and ended the call with “Congratulations, Attorney Levine.”…

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Another’s World

🌹  My mom Rose was a nursing home resident for three years in her mid 90s. She was assigned a roommate, Beverly (not her real name), who was 40 years younger. Beverly was very bright and an excellent conversationalist. She had flawless porcelain skin, smooth and silky hair to her shoulders, and a winning smile. I have some sense of the maladies that landed her there…a…

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Marilyn of my Young Dreams

When I was a preteen in the 1950s, my cousin Marlynne and I were fervent Marilyn Monroe fans. We subscribed to movie magazines—Photoplay and Modern Screen—with a feature on our favorite movie star in every issue. We each made up scrapbooks and pasted in every possible picture and article we could find. When I visited my cousin in Philly, I always brought my updated scrapbook and we…

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The Summer of ‘63

I’m still traumatized by getting fired without cause at age eighteen going on nineteen. I was thrilled to work for the summer at the five and dime lunch counter in downtown Elizabeth, New Jersey. I proudly wore my starched yellow uniform with the white apron, designating me as part of something important, in this case the great American variety store with the orange block letters…

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Summer in Paradise, Then and Now

I live in a 1956 ranch on an acre in a small New England town. There is a protected wetland on one side, a forest in the back bordered by an ancient stone wall, and a neighbor on the other side. No sidewalks. 🌱 The grass is mature, thick, and deep-rooted, leaving little room for interlopers, just the occasional sturdy dandelion and the clumps of sweet…

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Three Easy Pieces

QUORA is an internet website used by two hundred million people around the world to ask and answer questions in a wide range of categories. I discovered the world of Quora.com through my friend Jill who has been awarded Top Writer status for five years in a row. Participants come from diverse backgrounds, ages, countries, interests, and beliefs. Some of my chosen topics are Aging,…

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