Friday, October 7, 2011

88 ... And Booked!

Deb: I have a 88-year-old friend named Melba. She is fabulous and feisty, funny and smart. She was widowed several years back and moved two hours north of Toronto to be nearer her daughter.

My friend, Cheryl, who did a three way with us this summer is also close to Melba. We try to visit her twice a year, spring and fall. This year our fall trip was interrupted by the death of our dear friend Stan whom you may remember me blogging about.
Cheryl came to Stan’s visitation and then the day of the funeral took some other friends of Melba’s with her so she wouldn’t be disappointed. I vowed to get up there in the fall.

So I was thrilled to see that I would be spending some time in her hometown shooting a film and could steal a few hours away to have lunch or tea or dinner with her. Oh, won’t she be tickled, I thought. This will make her day, I was sure of it. I phoned her laying out my offer on her answering machine. Later that day she left a message for me on my phone. She said she was sick about missing me, but that she was booked. Booked for breakfast, booked for lunch, booked for tea, booked for dinner. I know at this point you are thinking, “Poor simple Deb has no idea that Melba does not like her”, but you would be wrong. She adores Cheryl and I. Cannot wait to see us and hates when we leave, so that is not it.

It is simply that she was booked. I called her back, again with the answering machine, and offered dinner the next day after shooting. She called back to say that she had a church social affair. She explained that she would have shifted things around but that she had been booked for some time with these various people and after all, a date is a date. And I quite agree. She said she so hoped we could do it soon and suggested that we try to make it up before Christmas. I called Cheryl to tell her about this, all the while laughing about how booked our 88-year-old Melba was. And not just booked, but booked up the wazoo! Cheryl told me that she and her husband had occasion to pass through Melba’s town recently and thought they would snap her up for a smart tea.

But...booked doncha know!

Man, we laughed. And then I said this prayer:

God, when I am 88 may I be BOOKED.
May I often be double-booked by accident.
May I still need my i-cal to juggle my appointments.
May my days be so filled that I don’t get to my laundry.
May I get off my ass and go out alone to galleries and movies and events.
May I be so full of energy and youthful openness that I blend into events that are youth-oriented.
May I sleep like a log every single night because my day is brimming with activity.
May I only fall asleep in front of TV only at night and simply because I am under the weather.
May I be surrounded by my friends and family who enjoy the same busy life filled with varied and stimulating things.
May something every day shock and surprise the shit out of me.
May I still be learning to play the piano, guitar and drums and may I not be half bad.
May I be interested in what is new.
May I travel to as many of the places I dream of and swoon into the food and culture.
May I still put on a dress I just bought and feel sexy and may my husband tell me that I look it. 
May the holidays find me still hosting and juggling invites to several other Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.
May I still celebrate my birthday like a national holiday, excited to wake up to it!
And when my time comes to leave this world, may I be too booked to accept the offer.

Barbara: Deb, your ode to the best of a long life brought tears to my eyes. It is utterly beautiful and yes, YES, me too!! I wish for all those things, for all of us who want it.

You wrote this beautiful piece before we heard the sad news of the far too early death of Steve Jobs. I think as we mourn him, we can also remember––as evidenced by his many brilliant and quintessential quotes––that he also lived his life with a dynamic and powerful mantra reverberating inside him. He is a perfect example of one whose life was fully “booked” until his last breath.

I admire all those who live to this degree, whether it’s your inimitable 88-year-old friend Melba, Deb, or the singular, extraordinary people we don’t personally know but who touch us profoundly and set the ultimate example for us.


  1. I love this story. Booked is my new mantra. I can use it whether I am or not. So cute.

  2. Yeah Booked! works doesn't it? Thanks.

  3. So many times, when I associate the word "booked", I think of me: the senior undergrad running around like a chicken with her head cut off, what with work, classes, and all that other fun college stuff! But Deb, your version of "booked" is what we should ALL strive for, now, and if we all are ever blessed to reach the age of 88!! :)

    I especially love: "May something every day shock and surprise the shit out of me."

  4. What a great one... and yesterday was my Dad's birthday and he was a very "booked" and joyful man, so this has particular resonance for me today. ALSO, a double booking is a thing of TERROR for me...but NO LONGER. What a gift... The next time I get a double booking or a conflict arises, I am going to concentrate on just how damn lucky I am. Thannks.

  5. I love this. Makes me miss some of the little old ladies I looked after when I did my nursing home rotation. I think older ladies are just the sweetest! ^__^

    I can't even imagine what having a friend that age must be like. So much we can learn from our older generations!!! Love the prayer as well; may have to write it down and keep it! :]

  6. Oh believe me Holly, there are days when I think I am going to lose it with the busy. Then I think, be grateful you are able to be! MP happy birthday to your dad! And yeah I agree-grateful. thanks Kelly. The other thing I have vowed to myself is that I will always know the date!!!

  7. Love the prayer Deb. It't great. And WOW this lady sounds like a very busy lady.

    I don't know what it is but it seems like when people get more up there in age they get more busy. My Great Grandmother on my dads side is the same way. She is almost 92 and everytime we try to call her to talk to her she is always out and about. She is always here and there and everywhere. She gets out more than I do which is sad. But on my defence I work all the time

    But yes love Prayer Deb.

  8. Just beautiful, ladies. Another wonderful example of living a colorful life well into your eighties is my hero Maya Angelou. She is writing, making films, doing interviews, speeches, writing poetry and publishing cookbooks. She made me feel better about aging.

  9. How wonderful a post this is. I am guilty of complaining about my insane schedule but have to admit I too wouldn't have it any other way. I hope to live up to every last thing in your prayer not just when I'm 88 but for today and every day for the rest of my life.

  10. Yes Lyndsie, it's okay because you are in your working years! Hollye Maya Angelou is a wonderful example, thanks. How old is she now? Erin I feel the same way. When things are insane I try to stop and think who much my parents wish they could do all the things I do. Not always easy but sometimes it works..for a minute.

  11. I love love love this blog to the max!! One night when I was a much younger woman..Jessica Tandy and Garson Kanin were on The Tonight Show and I will never ever forget her talking about how her kids and family would get so mad because she and Garson were never home..always on the go and busy. I remember thinking.."thats what I want...I want to be so wonderfully busy that even my kids when they are grown with families of their own have to track me down!! " : )
    Love your blogs...all of them..each and every time.!! xoxox

  12. Yep, that's the way I want to be...booked. Deb I loved your prayer and hope we all live our lives booked, but only in the best ways...

    Pamela Jo

  13. Melody how lovely and thanks. Jessica Tandy one of my great heroes. I would love to grow up to have her sense of life. Thanks for reminding me. pamela Jo, may it be so.

  14. Melba sounds like an absolutely marvelous lady! May we all live to be 88...

  15. She is April. Yes may we all...and beyond!

  16. Major flub...I said Jessica tandy..who was married to Hume Cronyn not Garsen Kanin...I meant Ruth Gordon!!! Sorry..but you got the point..! Live live live...and I adore your list..Im going to copy and keep it hung where I can see it..because to live like that when your in your 80' have to begin a great health regime in your 50's!! : )

  17. I have this not so secret ambition to do a (yogic) headstand on my 80th birthday. it's always been my intention to age not only gracefully, but to slow the whole process down by containing so much life within. lately, with kids getting older and starting to leave home, I'm feeling more and more that all that busy-ness (booked) is a way to fill the holes that a life of losses creates. okay. so it's 2:30 in the morning and I'm still awake, contemplating all the sadness in the world. it's no wonder that I'm reading sadness into this post. but with admiration. I only hope that when the time comes, I have what it takes to get myself up and out and be a vibrant participator in life.

  18. ok. did I write "participator?" perhaps I should wait until the light of day (and some perspective) before I make comments that aren't even stated in proper english. I believe, participant was the word I was groping for at that late hour. in addition, perhaps I'd be a cheerier participant in life if I didn't empower all those sad thoughts in the middle of the night? I love that I have role models that light the way ahead, and I love that you'all wrote about it here.......xo

  19. Lori, just back after our Thanksgiving weekend celebration and wanted to touch base with you here. I know it's not always easy, but I love how deeply you feel the ebb and flow of life. I hope you feel less sad today and I am sure you will achieve your yogic headstand at 80. I will say also that I believe a very full life often comes from a curious and vibrant nature.

  20. Barbara: I'm grateful for your comment. thank you. it's NOT easy, is it? I think that parenting comes with a virtual guarantee that you will be vulnerable to the 3 a.m. wide awake moments of sadness & anxiety. I know I'm not the only one.....that's one reason why I so appreciate the women who have come before me and live lives that are filled with wise examples of how to make the most of this (often) hard world.........and it's why I so appreciate the women who walk beside me, figuring it all out together as we go........


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