January 2023

What Does That Woman Have To Live For?

That woman was my mother: the occasion, her 37th birthday. 

I was 12, and my life stretched before me, just loaded with possibilities. I couldn’t imagine my mom doing anything more exciting or impactful than dishes or another load of laundry.

Cess Guzzetta (middle) with friends.

Decades have passed, as has my mom. My life no longer stretches before me. Indeed, I’ve started counting backward. Let’s see…I’m 76 years old and probably have another 12 “good years” left. By “good,” I’m thinking years where I hope to be free of chronic pain, be mobile, and can still remember a lot of stuff.  

Cess Guzzetta is a retired attorney living in Rochester, New York

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The Flow of Time

I was about 11 and on the way home from Hebrew School. I began thinking about being alive and having thoughts and feelings as a human being when it occurred to me that people only lived into their 70s. Back then, it was a problem. I could not reconcile the idea of having a living soul for a limited time. I likened it to going to a movie theater. The movie would end, and people would leave the theater except me. I would no longer exist, but the world outside of the theater would. I was incredulous!

My grandparents were alive in their 70s, but I saw them as separate from my life and very old. My self-centered thinking was becoming aware that others had thoughts in their minds as I did. Thousands, even millions, of people had inner lives as I did. I was bewildered. 

This piece was written by a retired mental health worker in San Diego.

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Senior Notes

Recently I had coffee with an old friend who will be retiring soon. My friend is resourceful and has a track record of success in his profession and recreational life. I asked him how he felt about retiring, and he said he was scared. He said he was afraid he wouldn’t find meaningful ways to spend his time. I understood his anxiety and felt confident he would find purposeful ways to use his time. At the same time, I think his concerns are shared by many. 

*****

Today my wife and I devoted a morning to sorting old clothing and gear to give a lot of used stuff to Goodwill. The mission was successful, but I must say it was emotionally challenging for me. I saw my hiking, mountain climbing, and bike history go out the door in plastic bags. Of course, I no longer did those activities, but somehow the presence of the gear made me believe I might in the future and symbolically preserved my history.

*****         

Does your surgeon keep your records at home? Many psychologists store their old records in their homes or garages—a bad idea. Think about fire, robberies, and water damage. Keeping your records in a professional storage site like Iron Mountain is best. The facility catalogs your files, making them easy to retrieve if subpoenaed or requested. Don’t be professionally embarrassed.

*****   

Make sure you check your hearing and, if needed, get hearing aids. Poor hearing compromises social life and can encourage isolation. Hearing aids have improved over the years and are cosmetically unobtrusive.

Falling Father, Falling Daughter


The right disaster comes
at the right moment
to break us open to the helplessness
that an opening of the heart requires.

-Coleman Barks

It has been three months since I have been home to see my father.  I have been busy living my own cluttered life two hours away.  Thursday afternoon, when he wakes from his nap to find me there in his living room, I am familiar; there is recognition in his eyes, but also blurriness.  “Who’s this?” he asks.

 “Honey, it’s Mary Ann, your daughter.”   This is a weird, unwelcome feeling, to be not fully known by him. 

Mary Ann Stratton grew up the youngest of six children on a small farm in southern Colorado where her father was a state veterinarian. She is currently living in Denver, Colorado where she teaches middle school Language Arts. This article was originally published in the San Diego Psychologist.

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July 2022

The Gift

Time may be endless but the piece of it a life is given, like the gift of a cherished old photograph, dims and dulls as the seasons race forward in an indifferent perpetuity.  Having reached the age of 85, I have trouble remembering names, and the images of my experiences, once sharp and clear and full of color, are grey and cloudy and require hours of effort to pry them out of the disarray of detail that has now become my memory. And so, it was not surprising that I could not recognize the name, Stephan Jacobson when my caller identified himself.

It all began two weeks ago when Ellie, my young secretary, entered my study as I rested in my easy chair and handed me an envelope. “This is one,” she said in her slow, soft voice, “I think you’d best open yourself.”

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Time


Falling Leaves
summer’s end,
it’s the changing time,
the spinning of the earth,
the movement of planets:
like the river,
time flows on,
carrying the fall leaves,
shaping the crystals of winter,
signaling the time for the snow to fall:
days and nights,
nights and days:
time is a train,
traveling to destinations
near and far,
to places unknown.

Paddling

We are time travelers,
paddling down
A river of no return,
Turning the pages
of old calendars,
gliding through space,
into fresh waters,
paddling on faith:
we commit to the river.

Bloomies


What it feels like to be 78…
I am at Bloomie’s…18 minutes before CLOSING!
Lights flash…signaling Mortality.
Who by fire…who by water.
Finally relating to Me.
The Golden Years. Retirement. Grown Children. New Vistas.
Travel, leisure, precious moments with loved ones.
Perspective…the Wild Card. Time is not forever.
No e-mail or Google revealing an expiration date.
Still…Black Friday is here. Grab all we can…fleeting.
Power Up…hold on tight…that Carousel Ride…almost over.
Blissful passage to Nirvana or Tarot card of suffering?
Birth…Joy.
Departure from Life.
Often deterioration and pain.
Don’t ask Why!
Struggles…reflecting challenges of the Spirit.
Before we achieve a ticket to Heaven.
St. Thomas…God exists…his argument of Design.
Humans, forever searching for answers.
The Human Condition.

Annie’s lesson for the NOW TIME.
LIFE…the finest BLESSING.
Fully Present in Every Precious Moment.

Sue Ann Scheck “Annie” was born and raised in Brooklyn and now resides
in Rancho Santa Fe. She tells us that 18 in Jewish time means LIFE.