Gratitude in the New Year 2022 For the Lifetime Benefit to Us Boomers of a Combination of Active, Daily Activities

This Grandma recently ran into a professional colleague I had not seen in nearly five years. It is hard to believe I am retired from the bench for five years. I was surprised at his appearance, as he now has pure white hair of that which was left on his head, which was not much. He was surprised that I was a COVID retiree, not working professionally any more in any capacity. As with millions of other Boomers, I had intended to continue to work in some professional capacity using the skills I honed in a legal career and as a judge until I died. However, the pandemic changed all that as it changed the world we live in.

The safety need to isolate for a significant period and lifestyle change in communication to Zoom and other mechanisms, no longer in person, meant a new way of proceeding professionally — and made work difficult and complicated. Frankly, it was not worth the effort and no longer enjoyable to continue the life I had loved for so long. Yes, the pandemic impacted how I viewed my life and placed good health and safety to have life without experiencing COVID and dying or having immunocompromised loved ones dying from COVID became the most important “job” in life.

COVID upended a lifetime of travel. Fortunately, PopPop and I completed our travel “bucket list” by age 70, never making it by age 65, but making it before the pandemic hit. It is not too repetitive to talk about my Aunt Fay, a Holocaust survivor of the infamous horrific Auschwitz concentration camp, who saved her entire life in America to travel when she retired, and got lymphoma and died too soon after retirement. She said I must travel and complete my heart’s desire by age 65 because you never know what will happen as you age and you might never be able to do what you want to do after age 65. I know my Aunt Fay and those of my parents’ generation never contemplated that a worldwide pandemic would close borders and the world to everyone and foreclose travel of any kind, and make any long distance travel and near travel dangerous to us all, if we even could do so.

When COVID appeared for the first time, PopPop and I had to travel for health reasons, and still do every three months, up to world class medical centers in New York, far superior to what is available locally, we had to chance travel. Now, commercial travel is somewhat back, but so stressful and difficult, with cancellations and complex machinations for safety for us.

A new way of life during COVID includes N95 masks, KN95 and 94 masks, disposable masks five ply and less, face shields, goggles, rubber gloves, sanitizers for person and home and car, COVID home test kits, PCR tests, all requiring effort, time, and money to accumulate (and don’t forget the toilet paper shortage —and shortages of every kind in supply chain problems we still face). Instead of spending our hard-earned savings for pleasure, we spend for health and safety.

We, at our age, when life should be calmer and easier, have numerous worries. Among so many worries, in addition to COVID, we worry about climate change and the extreme weather and consequences to us and our lives and our family, inflation, politics, living life safely, and everything going on in our complex world today. We worry about what world our grandchildren are going to inherit. Posting on this blog helps me preserve memories of this time for them to review when they are adults.

Just when we are what I call “triple vaxed,” having two doses of Pfizer vaccine AND a booster, and feeling optimistic that we could reenter the world, COVID Delta variant and Omicron variant shut all doors to us again. The Omicron variant took just weeks to go around the globe, and although might seem less dangerous for the mass of humanity, for us Boomers in the high risk group, it brings us back to a reality of isolation and keeping our exposure to others to a minimum and a small circle. Again, I am responding with regrets to life passage events I cannot share with friends because of danger to health and life.

Do not feel sorry for this Grandma. Life is still full and fulfilling, only extraordinarily different. And, because of a new study just published in Science Daily, a beloved daily dose of varied and expansive scientific studies summarized for the lay reader, I now know what I knew in my heart, the new combination of active, daily activities is a lifetime benefit to me, even if it is COVID induced. See, “Keeping active through varied activities can reduce risk of developing dementia,”published in Science Daily, December 17, 2021.

I still do yoga biweekly, and intended to do more, but I am extraordinarily busy. Yes, going to doctors takes up more time in life than PopPop and I anticipated. Aunt Fay was too right. We counted seven doctor visits this week for the two of us! Health is now the priority. Even this is so different, difficult, and more emotionally draining because of COVID safety restrictions, where only the patient alone can go in with the doctor in so many cases, or in a hospital or outpatient setting. As Boomers, it is always helpful and medically beneficial to have the caregiver partner and advocate present. Too many times, no longer.

We are so fortunate having close family and our children and grandchildren, ages eighteen to three, with whom we share life, much time daily and weekly, in person and electronically. We are so fortunate to have our youngest daughter, her husband, and three of our grandchildren close by now, having recently moved to Florida. She voices that she wanted to be here to help us if and when we need it as one reason to come home to Florida. How wonderful and comforting, and life affirming. We are so appreciative. The five of them now all add to the combination of active, daily activities, running errands to ease their busy life, caring for and spending quality time with grandchildren, picking up the grandchildren from school, time with all and individually, sharing their active lives making PopPop and my life active and full of joy.

We are so fortunate to have dear, close friends to share life with, as it can be with COVID. Social life is still primarily masked and, as much as possible, socially distanced, but with intimate groups, couples, close friends important to me and us, we take the chance to enjoy activities. Eating in restaurants is outside, a fortunate benefit of living in sunny warm Florida during a pandemic. Living in a warm climate tourist area, and because travel is pretty much local and limited to the United States, many of our restaurants and markets have survived, when so many other locations do not have access to activities that we do and can enjoy outside. We can go to the beach and pool year-round.

And I have rediscovered Canasta and Mah Jongg with close friends long (we never say old) and new. Words with Friends is a many times a day activity with long friends as compulsive about playing electronically as I am. Instead of the highly responsible, serious, intense, impactful, and complex work of judging, I play games! And, now I know playing these games, on the computer and in person, thanks to this new study, have great value to my life.

Yes, COVID has changed my life, but it does not limit the joy in my life and my gratitude and appreciation of the life I am able to live. I feel immensely lucky, and as my father, also a Holocaust survivor of the uprisings at the Warsaw Ghetto and Treblinka concentration camp, said, luck has a place in survival in life. In this New Year, 2022, I hope you also find your joy or at least recognize and acknowledge what small daily moments of happiness you have with gratitude and





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