Sunday, December 20, 2015

Calendar Traditions - by Rich and Jane Thompson

Both of us had been widowed and were in our mid-60s when we married in 1999. Seven adult children and three grandchildren were part of the equation when we spoke our vows. Since then the number of “gkids”has grown to eleven.

It became apparent to us that we had a challenge — and opportunity — to become the glue binding the disparate family members and generations together. A practical, even artistic means of accomplishing that purpose presented itself at the first end-of-year holiday season. We began our family calendar tradition modestly, cutting and pasting photos from the previous year of family gatherings and adding handwritten captions. We then had our “masterpiece” photo-copied and bound for each family at a local print store.

From the beginning, we inserted the most recent contact information of our extended family, so that each person would know how to be in touch with the  others throughout the changes over the following years.

Much has changed since that first effort. We learned to use Mac Pages to insert and modify the digital photos, and add captions and titles for each month. We don’t use the templates for calendars available online or at the photo store because  we like to have more options for text, sizes of pictures and varieties of  layout.

The family calendar has proved to be an aesthetic experience as we collaborate on what pictures to include and how to arrange the photos we have taken, as well as those family members have sent us. Over the years, we have come to include scanned images from previous generations as an appendix to the 12-month calendar. This genealogical component has inadvertently turned the calendars into legacy pieces. And the old pictures in boxes in the basement are being used and displayed for the next generation.

But we aren’t perfect. Some of the women in the family have complained that the pictures we chose to include didn’t flatter them. Also we have learned to be careful that all the cute little kids get equal coverage. Nevertheless, the calendar has become an anticipated event in the family; it is used and treasured. One son has even archived every edition.

We have recently wondered who might carry on the calendar tradition when we no longer can do it. Perhaps the family creativity will take another direction. But in the meantime, producing the calendar is a delightful activity in our lives, and wrapping and giving the copies is a highlight of the season.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thankfulness - by Norma Glad

My heart overflows with thankfulness for the many opportunities I have been given throughout my life, most of them resulting from decisions, some made by others, some by me. Some were carefully reasoned, yet more often they had to be made blindly, not knowing where they would lead.

One wonderful opportunity came from both sets of my grandparents, decades before I was born. My grandparents were all born in Russia. In the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” Jews in Russia were attacked by Russian soldiers or peasants on orders from the government. These fateful pogroms, as they were called, often resulted in the deaths of entire communities.

Because of the pogroms, my maternal grandparents decided to leave their ancestral land and journey with their children to the United States of America — The immigration of my paternal grandparents is another story. How thankful I am for their difficult, risky decisions. Then my parents, who met in Cleveland, Ohio, made a decision to open opportunities for their children. When they had saved enough money to buy a house, they chose one near excellent public schools. My mom and dad were so proud when my sister and I became the first in our family to graduate from college.

More opportunities occurred when my late first husband, who died in 1960, joined the navy in the last years of World War II. Because of his service, I became a URW: UnRemarried Widow, eligible for a widow’s privileges from a deceased veteran. This opportunity provides a monthly stipend and almost unlimited medical care.

Yoga was an opportunity that almost got away. Thirty years and many life adventures ago, I noticed that a yoga class was starting. I had heard about the benefits of yoga but had never done it. I decided to try it and leave if I didn’t like it. I loved it. I knew at once that yoga was for me. I studied for 10 years and then seized the opportunity for a yoga teacher certification. I have been teaching ever since.

When I was young, I thought I would live in Cleveland all my life, never expecting that I would live and work in Maryland, North Carolina, California and Colorado. Fort Collins has turned out to be full of opportunities for me to be an active senior. Examples: swimming pools at my condo, the Senior Center and EPIC; the indoor skating rink at EPIC, and snowshoeing.

I am glad I made the decision to join the caring community at Congregation Har Shalom, where I have had the opportunity to study Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. I don’t have much background in Bible studies, yet I “sit among scholars” as did my grandpa the scholar. I like to imagine him looking down at me from Heaven and saying approvingly: “Nyomelle! (Yiddish version of my Hebrew name) a woman, continuing my studies! Only in America could it happen!”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Moving Again - by Judy Warner

I feel like I’m suffocating as we pack our dwindling household belongings one more time.

We’ve been told by our financial adviser that without our recently rescinded meal allowance (by corporate head-quarters), we can no longer afford to live in this independent living community.

 Some couples have left; others have decided to cook in their apartments, as we have. They obviously have a larger food budget than we do. Daily special prices in the dining room are in the $8 to $9.50 range. If we don’t eat there, we are spending $400 to $550 on groceries.

I’ve spent many hours online researching various living situations and quickly realized all senior living is exorbitantly expensive no matter what level of care is desired. Therefore, we are moving into an apartment complex, back with mixed age couples and families. The amenities which we have had, of housekeeping, night guards and everything under one roof, will have to be put aside until our health conditions grow worse.

I’m trying to keep an open mind about the new people we will be meeting. Management of the new complex assures us that their renters are graduate-school age or settled into careers. We ask ourselves: Will it be refreshing to talk about something besides failing health? Will we enjoy watching families being busy as they always are? Will we fit in with those still trying to attain status and wealth?

It has been heartbreaking saying our goodbyes to the residents here. They graciously allow us to know we will be missed. They longingly ask us to come back and visit or drop them a note. This request is usually followed by a nervous giggle about how they plan to stay here, at least for a little while longer.

So it is with mixed emotions and an intent to stay positive that we face the next adventure in our lives.

When I was recently asked if I would ever come back into independent living, I thought for a moment and answered that I couldn’t be sure. It can be terribly depressing as wonderful friends are losing their health. However, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing their histories and being entertained by their simple, sweet humor.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Even Later Life Can Surprise You - by Joannah Merriman

I was t he flrst of 30 cousins on my mother's side of the family, a readymade extrovert . From the time I was a preschooler until I left home for college, I was the ” big sister,‘ often taking care of babies in my own house and in the lake houses of my uncles and their families.

 Born to an Italian mother and a Lebanese father, I was full of family, delicious food, and boisterous conversation as a child. No demure ladies' teas for me. My parent s loved and nurtured my siblings and me, though my father gave me strange half-encouragement about spreading my wings: ” You can be anything you want to be . . . as long as you get married and have children, as all real women should.‘ I did want children but didn't want  to be stuck in the Midwest forever.

A good writer, voracious reader, decent pianist , accomplished swimmer, I was never much for strenuous out door activities. I was a bit of a klutz, so running and hiking were not activities to which I was drawn. I loved horses but never achieved my dream of riding to school on my own glossy, black Tennessee Walker. A good Catholic girl, I got married right out of college, exactly as I was expected to do. I had never thought too far into my future past the college degree, marriage, children.

Surprising myself began when I moved t o Denver in1969 with my psychology degree, accompanying my first husband, fresh out of law school. Then to Fort Collins in early 1974 with a future second husband, father of my children,  to open a retail record store, then three, and finally a chain of eight .

During my 46 years in Colorado, I have taught childbirth education and completed t wo master's degrees but couldn't seem to stay married. When my second marriage ended in divorce nearly 30 years ago, I was content t o be a single parent . I began walking to manage stress. Nothing strenuous. Just step by step.

However, in 1988 I met a wonderful man, a big surprise, and settled into a surprising, loving life with him, teaching, writing, caring for my three children, two cats, and four golden retrievers.

In August 2013, I began the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile walk from the French Pyrenees to the western Spanish coast , with a backpack and a pair of hiking sticks. Solo.  Me, the hiking-avoidant extrovert.  My friends and my partner were stunned. ” You?‘ they said? ” You?‘ ” Yes, me,‘ answered my own astonished self. I want ed six weeks of solitude in an unfamiliar place, and I got it . As is my habit , I began writing about my thoughts and preparations months before I departed. Captured it on a website for any interest ed people to see. This year I will walk 500 miles again, on another path but still following the Camino to Santiago de Compostela. It seems  he older I get, the better my life becomes. Now that's a surprise.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Uprooting -by Judy Warner

Thirteen months ago, my husband and I made the bold move into independent living. He was then 75 and I was 70. He was diagnosed three years ago with Parkinson's disease, and I've had multiple health problems including heart failure, diabetes and moderate kidney failure.

We made t he decision aft er hours and days of discussion, deep thought and prayer. My thoughts were more about his health concerns than mine. Over the past few years, I've observed moments and days of frustration, anger, mental lapses, and too many fearful moments when I was  he object of that anger. He was quick to yell and threaten, which over our marriage of 50 years had seldom occurred.

He agreed to visit some senior apartments and independent living facilities.

 Finally we decided on an independent living community. My reason was based on No More Meal Planning and Cooking. Plus, our apartment had a full kitchen. Also, there are washers and dryers in each apartment rather  than a laundry room to share with others. Prices were comparable.

We pared down yet another time. We had started 10 years ago when we moved into a two-bedroom townhouse. Now we had to fit comfortably into a 980-square-foot apartment . The first year has brought many mixed emotions; I was surprised at myself. 'We don't belong here. These people are at least 10-20 years older than we are,‘ I thought .

But in the next phase, I developed an eagerness to enjoy the residents' stories, their values and their kindness. I loved  he reality of watching elderly couples care for each other and literally practicing their marriage vows of 'in sickness and in health every day.

I find I am not as active as I would like to be. I've always heard that t here just aren't enough hours in the day to participate in everything. But to me, far too many activities are repetitive.

Now we are again at a crossroads. Major changes and decisions have been inflicted on the residents, prompting thoughts of moving. This particular community is no longer the bargain we thought we had. Thus, another round of emotional decisions is upon us. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Challenges in a Lessened Hearing World -by Norma Glad

I wear two fine hearing aids and still can’t hear all the sounds and conversations going on around me or directed at me. Living in a lessened- hearing world is a constant challenge. I have done what I can to meet that challenge.

I bring helpers on my adventures. One of my most valuable companions is humor. Sometimes I can say, “I don’t hear everything people say, but I hear things people didn’t say!” This usually elicits a chortle, which might ease others’ nervousness about how to communicate with me.

Another valuable helper is nerve. I often need to ask for repetition of the phrase or words I miss.

I am equally appreciative of my other traveling companions: resourcefulness, courage, strength, persistence, patience and wisdom.

I need courage to ask a question or for repetition. Pretending I know what was said has gotten me into more trouble than asking for clarity.

Strength and resourcefulness have been wonderful companions. Both remind me to use old ways and learn new ways to find solutions I might not have previously had in mind.

Patience: In many situations I hear some of what’s being said and can get the main ideas so I can ask my friends to fill in details later.

Wisdom is a great friend which helps me sort out what to worry about and what not to.

Persistence has been wonderfully useful throughout my lessened- hearing adventures. Recently audio guides were available at a museum. My heart sank. Other guides I had tried hadn't worked for me, with or without my hearing aids, but I thought I would try one more time. Success! They worked.

When I go to a class or an event, I come early to get a seat up front or near the speaker so I can lipread. I choose not to go to most plays and lectures, but I love musicals. Before going, I Google the production and read the plot summary and sometimes the lyrics so I know what to expect and can enjoy the show.

Hooray for closed captions! Cinemark movie theatre has a device which attaches to the chair arm; I can read the dialogue on a small screen and watch the action.

My CapTel telephone has a small screen. A caption operator types the dialogue of incoming calls so I can read what’s being said and get messages.

Yes, I miss a lot. My pet peeves are low-volume speakers and those who don’t seem to care whether listeners hear them. Do they realize that communication is a two-way street? And I often miss punch lines of jokes; everyone else laughs, and I wonder what they’re laughing about.

I hope to raise aural consciousness. Baby boomers might be in their own lessened- hearing worlds. They’ll find technology of some help but not the entire answer.

I truly wish that these challenges weren’t part of my life — but they are. So I stay positive and do the best I can to meet them. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Importance of Recording Memories, Life -by Jane Thompson

Last year, when I turned 80, I finished a 128-page memoir. I added pictures, had it printed and gave copies to all our seven children, some nieces and nephews and friends. It was exciting, and amazing, to me that I had actually done it. I had started writing in 2008 when I wrote two pages.

I had been motivated then, but I thought I had plenty of time, no hurry. So it was on the back burner —simmering. Then my sister died. I realized I was the oldest living person in the family, and no one else remembered my grandparents. I had to get busy.

I decided to focus on just what I remembered. But there were big holes in my knowledge. My father died when I was six and I knew almost nothing about him. That is where came to the rescue. Since I had not known my father at all, the headline from the San Francisco Chronicle, telling how he had been shot at the Fairmont Hotel in 1918 by a wife who preceded my mother, was shocking. Wow! That would grab the attention of those grandchildren and was a good way to begin my story.

I had fun writing about my elementary school days, when my sister and I roamed all over our town, Venice, California, or took the bus to Santa Monica to shop for Christmas gifts, to go to the movies or to find churches to visit. I wanted to share what we did for fun as kids seventy-or-so years ago.

I also needed to write about growing up with an alcoholic mother who came to our school falling down drunk more than once but was hospitalized for several years when I was in sixth grade.

Soon I realized I needed a writing buddy to review what I had written, offer suggestions and “crack the whip” when I let too much time elapse between inspirations. My husband did that for me.

Recently I asked book club friends if they had considered writing a memoir; only three told me they had. One friend wrote a family history but only at the last minute included a few pages about herself. Some of the others had considered doing it but felt they lacked the time. One had taken a class at the Senior Center where each member wrote about eight life events. One of my other friends said she had nothing to tell--she had lived an ordinary life. We all knew otherwise.

Neither the other memoirists nor I have lived celebrity lives, nor have we done heroic or amazing things, but we do have stories about people in different times or places that the next generation could enjoy or learn from, or ignore. Still, they will have the stories. I recommend writing your life.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Back to Work - by Libby James

Retirement: It just ain’t what it used to be. A little more than two years ago, six years after I turned 70 and quit a job in Cheyenne, my life took a right turn. When the owner/publisher of a vibrant rural monthly newspaper in Northern Colorado said, “I want to hire you, but I can’t pay you much,” I said, “OK, when do I start?”

Since then I’ve worked as a part-time staff reporter. The job couldn’t be more different from the one I left. For 15 years, I helped low-income single teen parents study for GEDs and prepare themselves for the world of work, a job I loved. I miss that parade of wild and gutsy young women doing their damnedest to love and nurture their babies and fight their way toward being able to support them.

 I caught the freedom fever in 2004 when I spent a year off in Africa. I discovered how exhilarating it was to wander the streets of a Third World city, delve into the recent, raw history of a country newly emerged into independence, and produce weekly stories and photos to share with people back home. I substitute taught, tutored a few African graduate students in English, and became friends with a cadre of fascinating European ex-pats. I got a taste of what was out there if you had the luxury of free time to indulge. When I came home, I returned to my job for a year and then I quit.

I loved having time to write about my time in Africa and my experiences with teen mothers, and to revise a long stashed-away middle-grade novel.

I planted a garden, entertained more, ran, biked, did some artsy stuff and traveled to spend time with family and friends. I was never bored.

So why did I take a job? Partly on impulse. It sounded interesting. And because I know these things about myself: I like to be busy. I like to write. I like interaction with people. I like to learn new things. I want to know what makes people tick. And I was weary of longterm writing projects with dismal prospects for publication, ready to leave them alone for a while.

My first assignment was to interview and photograph the first-ever paid fire chief in Wellington. Since then, I’ve covered the discovery of a body in Lyons Park, documented a raging flood and its aftermath, and described a couple of fellows in Laporte who make award-winning wine and have no intention of ever selling any of it.

Over the last two-plus years, I’ve met dozens of wonderful people drawn to a rural lifestyle yet committed to forming strong and supportive friendships with their far-flung neighbors. Many have become my friends as well.

My “retirement” job has added fulfillment to my life. It’s challenging to make the cold call, ask the tough question, write the meaningful story. For me, and I suspect for many seniors, retirement  has taken on a new face.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Teens Teach This Former Teacher a Life Lesson -by Marty Marsh

One day each week I volunteer with middle-school students.  Retired after 35 years teaching, spending my days with teenagers, I still enjoy quality time with them.  I laugh more, and I come home tired but happy  Whether it is volunteer work in a school or quality time with grandchildren or neighborhood children, our lives are enriched by time spent with young people who teach us as we mentor them.

Hopefully, my former students learned lots from our time together, but I learned just as much from them.  One amazing characteristic of young people is their enthusiasm and willingness to participate.  When teaching, I tried an activity that worked with middle-school students and failed with adults - "personal interviews" to get to know students.  I would start by asking for a volunteer.  No adult would raise a hand without more information.  Only a few high school students volunteered.  However, practically every student in a middle-school class volunteers.  I love that!  Somewhere along the growing-up process following middle-school we learn to hesitate, to not commit right away, or to worry about what others think of us.

When the bell rings to end a period of volunteering, often with my doing a lesson on poetry, I always have a line of students in front of me.  They haven't had a chance to share during class, and they absolutely want me to know what they are thinking.  They don't leave until their turn comes because they are confident that I want to know about their thoughts and experience.  One-on-one is powerful.  These students constantly make me aware of how important it is that I listen carefully to those around me, of any age, and to honor their ideas.

Young people are passionate about their interests and expect to be successful.  When I sponsor writing contests twice a year at Lesher Middle School, only a few win but all the kids expect to win.  That's why this April, National Poetry Month, each grade will have 25 poets recognized.  From that group, a couple of top winners will be selected, but I want to encourage all of them to continue writing, whether they win a top prize or not.  Eventually they will learn that the creative writing process is worth the work on its own.

When I work in the Media Center (what used to be called the school library) and can't figure out how to solve a computer problem, all I have to do is ask one of these teenagers.  They know exactly what to do, and they love being "the teacher" to a teacher.  Young people have been raised with technology and can help parents, grandparents and neighbors use this great tool.

I can't imagine living in a retirement community that doesn't have young people.  I'm thankful that Fort Collins schools have so many opportunities for volunteers so I can spend time each week with teenagers.  It's a win-win. I continue to learn as much from them as they do from me.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Reconnecting with Nature -by Dale Hein

Building upon your earliest memories of nature can be a satisfying journey "back to the future".

Perhaps you slept in a tent at Scout camp and heard an owl hooting at constant intervals.  Maybe the tide washed away your sand castle , or the sun melted your snow sculpture.  Nature did not care.

Possibly you found a turtle, and brought it home.  You named it Simon and kept it in your bedroom.  When your dad said that it was time for Simon to hibernate you set Simon free in a pond.

More than half a century later, such early experiences in nature remain vivid to many of us.

While I was a professor of wildlife biology at Colorado State University, I often taught summer field courses in ecology and natural history. e.g. for Elderhostel (now Road Scholar), National Parks Conservation Association and National Wildlife Federation.  The participants were mostly retirees or seniors on vacation.  Often they were reconnecting with nature in ways they had first done as children.

So many times I heard, "Why, I remember that flower (or bird, or tree) on my grandparents' farm when I was little."

Or, "I remember we kept cocoons in our classroom until this same kind of butterfly emerged."

Don't you recall the first fish you caught, seashells you saved, or meteor showers you saw?

We usually have more discretionary time later in life, especially after retirement.  We may still be busy - but busy at what we choose.  One choice may be to discover new interests.  Rediscovering former interests can be even more satisfying.  Reconnecting to nature can be as simple as activating dormant childhood memories.

A mature dault has resources and abilities to explore nature that were limited in childhood.  It can be a time to revive and build on those early memories.  Now, a nature walk in woodlands, hills, stream-side, or fields can include nature photography, plant identification, bird watching, nature writing, and helping others learn.

Hopefully, as you grow as a naturalist, you will also become a conservationist, helping to preserve our vital natural world.

When we get to know more of nature, we can graduate to helping others, especially youths, to know nature better.  Too many children suffer from "nature deficiency disorder" in this increasingly technological world.

Year-round, free educational activities are available at 40 natural areas in Fort Collins ( areas), giving all of us, of any age, the opportunity to get in closer touch with nature.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Roll with the Changes - by Jean Dietemann

Most of us remember the David Bowie song: “Ch-ch-ch-changes.”

It’s a perfect one-word summary of aging. There aren’t any hard and fast rules, like “at age 60, you will …” and “at age 70, you will …” Instead it’s more of a stutter-step pace. Two steps forward, one step back, three steps forward, two steps back.

Everyone’s pace is different. I’ll tell you about mine.

On the one hand, I can’t do some things the way I once did. Hike in, especially uphill, to a favorite fishing hole. Run or even walk fast. Eat a lot of salt and fat. Drink real coffee. Work in my garden for hours at a time. Watch late-night TV.

On the other, I can still do those things — just differently. Walk, briskly, to drive-up fishing spots. Drink decaf coffee. Eat more veggies, fruit and fish. Work in the garden before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m. And anyway, phooey. Who can stay up to watch Letterman if you want to be up early to garden?

Prioritize. Some changes I can’t get around, like seeing doctors more often than I used to. Or, nice though they are, than I really want to. Parts of me are wearing out because their warranties aren’t what they used to be. I’m working on learning to lift, carry and pick up things so my knees, shoulders and lower back cooperate.

Worst of all is trying to remember the name of something or someone, and finding a big blank spot inside my head where the answer should be. It’s not that I’ve lost it; I’ve just misplaced it. But if I think about something else instead, the missing word pops up — “George” or “platypus” or whatever.

The good news is that some changes have pointed me in new directions. For example, it was a big surprise that my heart isn’t as reliable as I had thought. Part of the prescribed treatment was to join a cardiac fitness class at The Heart Center of the Rockies. Best thing I’ve done in a long time. I work out twice a week in a supervised program with — the important part — other folks who have similar problems. That means we’re all pretty much in the same boat, so there’s a lot of support and no need to compete. Just chug along as best you can and rejoice over small triumphs.

 I’m also no longer a slave to anyone’s alarm clock — husband’s, kids’ or mine. I can do what I want to do pretty much when I want to do it. Since I love to garden and I love to read, volunteering at the Gardens on Spring Creek and The Friends of the Library solved the problem for me of how to use some of that newly discovered spare time.

And, very important, it’s a good time of life to give in to that secret urge to write the great American novel. Or learn how to fly a kite or weld or make bread or … Bottom line, it’s all about living with Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Friday, January 9, 2015

One Man's Bucket List at Age 70 -by Gary Raham

My thoughtful coworkers threw a party for me when I turned 50.

They even decorated a black easy chair with colorful balloons. I laughed with the rest of them, but I thought, ”Wait a minute. I'm not ready for an ebony E-Z-Boy yet . What's so special about 50?‘

Nothing, of course. Though I had been at the same job for 25 years and my bucket list was still full.

The black lounger precipitated one of those potentially disastrous life changes. I resolved to quit my day job and become a full-time writer- illustrator, though the transition took more than a year.

Sometimes we choose mega changes in our lives. Sometimes they ambush us: debilitating or fatal diseases, death of a loved one, war, a hurricane, or even an errant asteroid. Fortunately for me, deliberate choices have predominated.

I chose to move to Colorado with my biology degrees and  each. I chose to get married and abandon teaching to pursue a somewhat nebulous career path in the arts. Each choice closed some doors but opened new windows of opportunity.

As a biologist -turned-amateur paleontologist, I know large-scale disasters have forged the living world around us.

Pond scum invented photosynthesis and polluted the planet with oxygen. Complex plants and animals thrived. Later, a volcanic hot spot in what is now Siberia poisoned the atmosphere for a million years, killing off 95 percent of everything.

Little dinosaurs with hollow bones survived the ordeal and dazzled ecologies for the next 160 million years. Then, an asteroid fell on their heads and mammals scurried out of their tunnels and transformed Mother Earth yet again.

Change at all scales never happens simply or without consequences.

While I worked as a graphic artist, my wife raised the kids and worked part-time. When I quit to write books and draw pictures, my wife delivered mail for 16 years. I took a part-time job with a newspaper and somehow morphed into a journalist . During my post-50 journeys, I've written more than a dozen books and won awards for both writing and illustrating.

Our independent kids are grown, and my wife and I still like spending time together. She has pursued her passions, too. I've seen more of the world (and stayed in reasonably good shape) pulled along in her athletic wake.

We both compensate for aging body parts.

She won't play tennis again until she gets a knee replaced. I won't even consider riding a bull again but then I wouldn't have tried the flrst time except for those high, 20-something testosterone levels.

Advancing age may bank the flres a little and dull a few tools, but it also provides reflective serenity and enhanced experience that tends to encourage more choices of the ” well reasoned‘ variety.

So now I'm nearly ready to ask,  "What's so special about 70?"

Nothing, of course. Except the chance to pursue more new beginnings. My bucket list is not close to empty.