This July I turned 90. As far as I know, I’m the only person on either side of my family to have lived this long. My mother passed away in her early eighties, and in 1964 we thought that was a venerable old age. My father died suddenly of a heart attack in his mid-sixties. For whatever reason I’ve never thought much about my own demise, except for making a will and arrangements for my burial and memorial service.
My life seems to have been a series of segments that in my memory have no connection with each other. The first 12 years of my life were spent at Half-a-Hill restaurant and nightclub, my parents’ business in rural southwestern Missouri. From kindergarten through high school I attended the lab school of what is now Missouri State University. After my parents sold our business, we moved to Springfield, Missouri, where I lived until I was graduated from college.
After I completed my B.S. in Education, I taught English one unhappy, unsuccessful year in a rural Missouri high school and could hardly wait to relocate to Washington, D.C., to work for the Veterans Administration (VA) and then the Library of Congress.
By 1949 I had married Leon S. Caplan, whom I had met at the VA. In 1952 we had our daughter and then a son two years later. The years began to speed by as I was a parent, a beginning professional writer, for 10 years a part-time teacher in a private school, a graduate student in library science at Catholic University, and a fulltime librarian for the Montgomery County Public Libraries until I retired in 1981. Becoming a grandmother and a contributor to the “Weekend” section of the Washington Post newspaper and the Town Courier gave meaning to the beginning of my retirement years.
With the death of my husband in 1985 and until the present, I adapted to a lifetime change of becoming a single person again by weekly visits with two grandchildren, over a dozen Elderhostel trips, travels to visit my children in Indianapolis, Indiana, Sacramento, California, and Raleigh, North Carolina, writing a monthly column for the Courier and publishing a children’s book, “Noni’s Little Problem” (and having the satisfaction of its being purchased by Howard and Montgomery County Public Library systems).
I remember when I turned 80, I seemed to be much more aware of my age than I am now. Perhaps it was because I was living among a diverse age group at that time, and now that I live in a retirement community, I notice how many residents are not only in their upper nineties, even one hundreds, and many seem to have most of their marbles except for short-term memory losses (a failing that 100 percent of us share).
Several people have asked me lately, “How does it feel to be ninety?” If I stop to think of it, I could answer, “I have a few more aches and pains than I used to, steps are harder to climb, and I use a walker instead of a cane for support. For me. personally, there are compensations as I grow older—I feel as if I have sailed into a safe harbor. I finally know myself pretty well. I have a circle of loving family and friends. I am fortunate to have doctors and a nurse whom I trust and appreciate. I have many interests that I have time to explore. Most of all, I have more blessings than I can enumerate.