Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

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Should Age Be a Private Matter?

A few  nights ago our family was invited to the100th birthday party of my mother-in-law’s cousin.  To me, the celebration of his becoming 100 indicated that he and all around him were grateful for his blessings of a long life.

It was a time to announce his age to those who were there. Something that is often private was the topic of the event.

My MIL has lots of friends around that age, including someone from our synagogue  who turned 100 a few months ago and celebrated with a party in synagogue on Shabbat. Oh, and did I  mention my MIL’s best friend, Anne who turned 102? That was a milestone which our family and Anne’s children celebrated at a restaurant.

Until about 6 years ago, my mother-in-law’s age was private. No one seemed to know her age and if they did they certainly didn’t discuss it.

After that, her age was officially public knowledge and no longer a taboo subject.

So I’m wondering: Why wait till you’re 90 or 95 to announce your exact age? I think it should be something to boast about when we are still in our 30’s, 40’s and beyond.

I guess this belief stems from my childhood and how I was raised.

The adults in my life always discussed their age. I had two sets of grandparents growing up and I knew all of their ages as a child. And that’s not just because I was a nosy kid who asked a lot of questions! (although that may have something to do with it.)

But seriously, when my maternal grandmother was in the hospital and not feeling very well the last year of her life, she maintained her sense of humor and shall I say, brutal honesty.  When the doctor came in to examine her and asked her how old she was, she said, “90 1/2,” in a decisive tone of voice. No one was going to leave out that half a year that she was proud of.

Every year one of my sisters writes a poem using my mom’s age that year as a takeoff for a theme. That poem gets emailed to all the cousins and friends by my mother herself.

So I grew up with the adults around me treating age as a number denoting an accomplishment.  Nothing to hide or be ashamed of. Another birthday means we have arrived. And thank G-d we have more time on this earth to accomplish things.

Still, age continues to be a taboo subject in some families and cultures. It’s still considered impolite for children or adults to ask one another how old they are. I get that.

But I wonder whether the hiding of one’s age or considering it not a topic of conversation in polite company contribute to unhealthy messages about our aging bodies and souls.

Personally, I think it’s a good thing to be open about one’s age, because it helps us grow and move forward emotionally. I believe that when we pretend to be what we are not or forget that we are 56 (that would be me!), maybe we won’t take care of our health. We may neglect ourselves and skip mammograms or colonoscopies or bone density exams or other checkups… because we think we are still 25 or 35.

By contrast, when we focus on the positive aspects of growing old such as having more wisdom and experience we embrace our age.  Rather than getting depressed when we reach a new decade or big number,  I do think it’s better to reach a place of acceptance.

That celebration doesn’t have to be in the form of a party or getting gifts. It can be in the simple acknowledgment of our moving forward. Our growth. It could be a time to take stock of what we’ve achieved the past year or years and what we want to achieve in the next year. A time for gratitude and prayer.

Children are proud of their age because it denotes being more grownup and having more privileges. To them every fraction of a year counts. My young grandson has been keeping track of when his 5 1/2 years became 5 3/4 until he turned 6.

We don’t have to have that kind of glee for a new age or fraction of an age. And some people choose to keep it private. Whether we admit it or not, we feel our age. Every. Single. Day.

But instead of seeing that as a negative, let’s see it as a reminder of our blessings.

So the next time the subject comes up, be proud of your age. Whether you are 20, 30, 40, or 50 +, let’s celebrate our birthdays, not just with a party and lots of cards.

Oh and by the way, my birthday is coming up soon in a few months and I’ve been reflecting as I reach that number and as I watch others have birthdays. It could be this post is my way of working through my unconscious anxieties about the new number. Or maybe I’m just reflecting on a common societal trend of age and privacy. I don’t know.

All I know is that I  pray that we can all embrace and celebrate our birthdays by having our cake and eating it too. That means being grateful, taking care of our physical and emotional health and reaching out to loved ones.

 

 

 

 


It Takes a Village

As I contemplated what topic to write about today, one word kept coming into the forefront of my mind. Gratitude.

Gratitude, and appreciation:

To Hashem (G-d), to my family, my dear husband, my parents, my friends, acquaintances, community members and so many people. To my publisher (Israel Bookshop), editor, and their wonderful, pleasant and capable staff.

A famous person once (ahem – was it Hilary Clinton?) said “It takes a village,” and that expression rings true today for me.

It’s only Day 2 of my book being on the market, but already I have learned so much from the experience. I know that I will learn more, and I am ready to take that ride. But for now, I’d like to share my appreciation and warmth for all the people (too many to list) who have traveled this journey with me (whether they realize it or not!) to where I am today.

I never intended to write a book.  When I began to write down my thoughts and ideas over the years, I was simply making sense out of what I was seeing and taking stock of what I was learning. I guess that is what we writers do. We figure things out, and write them down. That has been my process. Then we start seeing themes and topics that keep playing over and over. And that is when we suddenly think something along the lines of:  “hmmm, maybe there is something here…let’s see how it goes.”

And so – if we are wise, then we tighten up our themes, learn more, write more, try, try, fail, fall down, get up, ask for help, listen to that help (well…most of the time!), and see what works. And also see what does not work.

For each person the process is different. As human beings, and particularly as parents and grandparents, we acknowledge that every one of our children and grandchildren has his or her own process, and journey to travel. What works for one may or may not work for the other.

I guess what I’m saying here is that I am so grateful to Hashem for helping me find my niche. For helping me find my path, and continue to find that path. Included in that “path” are all the people, events, ideas, mistakes, corrections, trials, errors  in my life the past years.
At this time of year, its seems auspicious to be grateful, take stock of the past, and to move forward in the future. I have so much work ahead of me. In all my roles, thank G-d as a woman and in our relationships with others.

And now…. I’m going to get to the point now, and conclude with several big THANK YOU’s.

THANK YOU…..

To my husband for supporting me through all this (forgive me if this sounds like the Academy Awards – Oscars — oh well..)

To all the people who phoned and/or wrote me warm and wonderful Mazel Tov and Congratulations emails and texts the past few weeks, especially yesterday – I thank you.

To Hashem for making this all a reality.

Because in essence, “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!” is a book about our relationship to G-d, to ourselves and to our fellow human being.

Thanks! And Shabbat Shalom, Good Shabbos and all the best!


Graduation Pomp and Circumstance

June is graduation time.  I love graduations. I love reading the programs, watching the kids in their caps and gowns, starched suits, or colorful costumes walk down the aisle, and line up on stage. Depending upon whether it’s a kindergarten graduation, elementary school, high school or college, I just get a thrill about all the pomp and circumstance.

And this year, I have two family graduations to attend. One is my youngest son’s graduation from high school. That one makes me feel old. I am prepared to cry, laugh, and feel really emotional. It’s hard to believe that my “baby” is graduating 12th grade. Wow! Continue reading


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