Highway 60 – Thank you, Mr. Garner…

Ok, so tell me you don’t feel older, now that James Garner has passed away.
Someone once said that the cultural things you love most throughout your life – music, art, TV, movies – are the things you loved first as a child, and then again as a young adult. For those of us Over-60-types, James Garner was the bridge between the ‘50s and the ‘70s, when so many of us were kids, and when so many of us finally came of age.
Starting in 1957, when on Sunday nights we huddled in front of the TV, begging our parents to switch to this new show on ABC, about a guy who played cards, drew slow, and always tried to avoid a fight. For our parents, it meant giving up on Ed Sullivan, who in a similar way was their Bret Maverick, someone they’d grown up listening to on the radio, then watched on TV.
But because we were so adorable, millions of American families eventually made that switch. And shortly thereafter, “Maverick” became first among equals in the stable of Warner Bros-produced TV Westerns that dominated the small screen. But of all of them, it was “Maverick” that endured, in large part because it didn’t want to be like all the others. At times, making great fun of the very genre it represented. Check out an episode called “Gun-Shy”. A hilarious, but affectionate take on “Gunsmoke”, complete with a bumbling “Matt Dillon”, a mumbling “Doc”, and a gimpy “Chester”, who limped on one leg in one scene, then on the other in the next.
Then time went by, the ‘50’s became the ‘60’s and the TV Western made its slow ride into the sunset, replaced by the Sit-Com. But that was OK, at least we got Andy Taylor, Rob Petrie and Mary Richards in the bargain.
And then the ‘70’s arrived, and with it the TV detective. But first among equals was James Scott Rockford, of 23 Cove Road in Malibu. He made living in a trailer trendy. It helped, of course, that the rig was parked at Paradise Cove, with the ocean just steps away.
At the time, I was living in the western San Fernando Valley and it was quite the cool thing to drive through Malibu Canyon, then up Pacific Coast Highway, to the Sandcastles restaurant on the other side of the parking lot. Of course, devoting an hour every Friday night at 9:00 to watch “The Rockford Files” on NBC, meant changing the mating habits of us young, twenty-somethings. But that’s OK, date nights could just as easily be Saturday nights, too. Right?
Both Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford were the children of Roy Huggins, one of the legendary producers in all of television. A man who, in the decade in between, also created yet another of TV’s most memorable characters, Dr. Richard Kimble of “The Fugitive”.
I was thinking about James Garner just a while back, when much of the national conversation was about the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. One of the iconic photos of the era that reshaped our national conscience was taken a year before, at the March on Washington. Out front was Dr. Martin Luther King, surrounded by other civil rights leaders of that time. But right behind them were three of Hollywood’s biggest stars, three white guys: Paul Newman, Burt Lancaster…
…And James Garner.
In character and in life, he was larger than the rest of us.
Thank you, Mr. Garner.
About the blogger: Don Marsh is a professional speaker and marketing consultant. He is also a child of the ‘50s who is still not quite sure what he wants to be when he grows up…

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Highway 60 – On Death and the Living…

My best friend died.
OK, so it’s been three years – closer to four, actually – but that sad, simple truth remains. Someone once said that the moment you realize you’re getting older is when someone you love dies. I understood that, when my friend died.
One Saturday morning, he sat me down on the bench alongside the tennis court we’d played on since the early ‘80s and told me he’d been diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. The initial prognosis was 18 months. A second opinion gave him six to eight years. He made it through six and a half.
He’d been an educator all his working life. At first, a teacher. Then, a principal. Finally, a superintendent. The week he retired, he began chemo. Five months later, he was gone.
I went to the house that weekend and told stories to his wife of 41 years and their two sons – now grown men, I’d known them since the diaper days – stories he only shared with me. About the nightmares. About the regrets. And eventually, about the acceptance.
When I spoke at the memorial service, in front of more than 300 friends, family members, and colleagues, I said, “Even though I believe everyone comes into our lives for a reason, I also believe that in most cases, those reasons tend to be self-limiting. If it’s someone we know from work, the relationship is about the work. If it’s someone we know from the neighborhood, the relationship is about the neighborhood.
“But once in a while, given the gift of time and a willingness to nurture, a relationship can grow beyond those limits, taking on new colors and textures. And in that journey, the more you learn about the other person, the more you learn about yourself.” That was the gift, especially in his last days, I was able to give him. It was also the gift he gave me.

This week, I got an email from his widow, inviting L and me to visit her and the man she’s now committed to sharing her life with in their new home in the Desert. It’ll be interesting to see how L reacts to this chapter of my life story, but I’m not worried. One of the pillars that supports our relationship is that she, too, knows about loss, having lost two of her sisters in very different, but equally tragic circumstances.
So as much as I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to stand against the hurricane of memories and the resulting tide of emotions, both sweet and bitter, I do know that when we return home, I’ll be even more convinced of one true fact:
That life is about moving forward. At times, one crawling, halting, painful step at a time. Until the moment when we open our eyes, and our hearts, and see the sun once again. When we are reminded that life is about the living. Not about those, no matter how dear, who are no longer alive.

About the Bloggers: D and L are over age 60, in love and happily reside in San Diego, California.

Highway 60 – Summertime, and the Music is Easy…

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Reason #47 to live in San Diego surely must be the endless-summer’s worth of concerts at beaches and parks throughout the county. A tradition going back more than 30 years is to take chairs, food and Liquid Refreshment of Choice and listen to the Mar Dels. Five guys (always backed by two “Mar Del Girls”), who started the band in 1982 and quickly rode the nostalgia wave all the way to Radio City Music Hall and even across the Pacific Ocean to play alongside some true Rock n’ Roll legends.
Agenda, always the same: Top down on the Corvette; drive to Power House Park in Del Mar (the hometown inspiration for the band’s name); concert at 7:00; sunset and the Green Flash (more on that in a future post) at 8:00; last song, sometime after 9:00.
Last song this evening was Madonna’s “Celebrate”. As the first guitar notes were struck, many in the audience – ranging from four-year-olds to those older than us – made their way to a grassy area in front of the stage to start a line dance. I grabbed L and joined in. Despite always being the Prettiest Girl at the Dance, she’s a bit reserved, in so many ways combining the worldliness of a 60 year-old-woman with the shyness of a 12-year-old-girl. Which this time, was code for, “I’m not dancing in front of all these people”.
So I did what any self-respecting Middle-Age-Guy-Who-Still-Think-Of-Himself-As-A-20-Year-Old: I picked her up.
And danced and spun and carried her through the line, I might add, to the applause and high-fives of our fellow line-dancers. Being who she is, L pretended embarrassment, at first anyway. But then the smile kicked in. So did that wondrous light behind her eyes.
We made our way through the line, I put her down and we ran back to the front of the line to do it all over again, before it was too late. And then, it was over. At least for one more year.
Thanks, Doug and “The Girls and Boys Makin’ All the Noise”, for keeping the music alive.
See you next summer…

About the Bloggers: D & L are over age 60, in love and happily reside in San Diego, California.
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Highway 60 – L’s Response (About all that “Sex Stuff”…

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Dear D,
I’m so glad to read that you are also tired of the “blue pill” advertising. Thanks for telling me that sex isn’t all there is….it is about intimacy, holding hands, falling asleep together and thankfully waking up together also. The ads are good though, showing us the watcher, the shared looks, the leaning into the other’s shoulder, the smiling and holding hands in the bathtubs. Hey, wait a minute, are they holding hands in the two separate bathtubs? And who has two separate bathtubs outside?
I was just visiting my parents in Kansas this week and they hold hands. As you know, Couple Huggingthey’ve been married 67 years. So maybe it’s also about keeping one’s balance but that’s a good thing if they can keep each other from toppling over. You know, that’s a very good reason to hold hands. We do it with our young children to keep them safe and connected to us so we should hold hands with our mate for the same reasons.
I also saw my best friend of 50 plus years and at the end of our visit, we too were holding hands. It’s about keeping our balance, intimacy and not wanting to let go either, no matter what the relationship is.
I do still love waking up and feel you knocking at my back door, so to speak. This morning was lovely and I can’t wait to see you again to make love OR to hold hands, probably both.
L

About the Bloggers – L and D are over age 60, in love and happily reside in San Diego, California.

Highway 60 – Let’s Talk Sex…

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“Two old guys are talking and one says to the other, “I really don’t have much sex drive anymore. You have the same problem?”

Other guy says, “Not me. I can still have sex. Twice, in fact.”

First guy says, “Twice”?

Second guy says, “You bet. Once in the Fall and then again in the Spring.”

The more truth there is beyond the humor, the funnier it becomes. And when it comes to All Things Sex, that’s what they’d like us Getting-Older-Types to think. When you were a kid, they tell us, all Systems were go. But now that you’re older, you’re destined to spend the remaining years with your engines sitting idly on the Launch Pad of Life. Unless, of course, you take this Little Blue Pill the size of a Frisbee.

Want proof? All you have to do is watch any nightly news broadcast – programming that can always be counted on to target an older audience – and check out the commercials. It’s a real litany of Middle-Age-Miseries, an endless series of acronyms all designed to make us feel even older and more enfeebled than we already are. ED, Low T, IBS – I mean, seriously, if we believed the advertisers, we’d spend every waking moment trying to get it up, get it in, or get it out.

And you have to love the warnings – “If you have an erection lasting more than four hours, call your doctor.” Tell you what, if that ever happens to me, the call to the doctor is the second one I’m going to make. The first will be to the good people at the Guinness Book of Records.

But seriously, love making is about more than making love, no matter what your age. It’s about falling asleep with The One. Even better, waking up together. Seeing the look in her eyes when I catch her looking at me. Feeling the warmth when I know she’s near.

When L and I walk along the beach in Del Mar or Carlsbad, we’ll take special note of the ages of the couples we see who actually are holding hands. Like us (Blogger’s Note: If there’s ever a Hand-Holders Hall of Fame, there’s sure to be a statue of L out front). Our results: The older the couple, the better the odds. Must mean something.

Maybe what it means is this: After age 60, it’s not just about sex. It’s about something much, much more important.

It’s about Intimacy…

About the Bloggers – D & L are over age 60, in love and happily reside in San Diego, California.
Couple on Beach

Highway 60 – 5 Keys to Happiness in Later Life…

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In my other life – the one that actually pays the bills – I am a professional speaker whose Target Audiences are professionals whose Target Audiences in turn are the 50+ demographic. People I and others refer to as “The Mature Marketplace”. And in every one of the almost 200 presentations I’ve given these past years, there is one constant in the way of a slide that talks about “The 5 Key Concepts”. Turning the microphone inward for just a moment, here are those 5 Key Concepts – motivators if you will, that can lead you to increased happiness in this Over 60, Later-Life stage.

The 5 Key Concepts –

Autonomy or Self-Sufficiency – How often and in how many ways do you ever find yourself thinking about the things you used to do and long to be able to do them again. Question is, what’s stopping you? Regaining the ability to pursue the interests and activities that age or illness may have taken away is a recurring billboard along Highway 60.

Connectedness – At this age, almost all of us have reached a station in life when “Trigger Events” begin to take effect – children growing up and moving out, selling the family home, retiring from a long-enjoyed career, perhaps even losing a spouse. Those events notwithstanding, staying connected with people and things is another Key.

Altruism – My first jobs out of college were as a fund-raiser for various non-profits. What was true then is true today, that 75% of all donations are by individuals, not corporations or foundations. Giving to others is one of the pure pleasures life at this stage can afford us. Doesn’t have to be dollars. Back then, I learned “The 3 W’s” of volunteerism: Work, Wisdom and Wealth. If you can’t give dollars, give of your time. The rewards are almost endless.

Personal growth – NBC “Nightly News” ™ recently had a segment on the growing number of retirees who choose not to go to either coast, but to move to college towns, for the pure Personal Growth experience of being among younger people, whose lifes in turn are enriched by their own, while at the same time taking classes on the kinds of subjects that, perhaps for reasons of serving in the military or raising young families, they did not have the opportunity to take when they were college-age.The moral here is that no matter how old we become, we never, ever, leave behind the need for personal growth.

Revitalization – Defined as the ability to feel alive or more alive once again. Journaling at night. Offering a Gratitude Prayer each morning. These are the kinds of every-day gifts you can give yourself and in the giving, truly feel alive and welcoming each new day.

About the Bloggers – D & L are over Age 60, in love and happily reside in San Diego, California.
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On My 60th Birthday…

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Dear D,
Thanks for the stats on 60 and Life In-The Not-So-Fast Lane.
On my 60th birthday, my very wise daughter gave me a card……..I opened it and read “just think of it as two thirties.” Also enclosed were 60 lottery tickets. Did I feel lucky? Yes, because I had raised a very wise daughter. Yes, because I had 60 lottery tickets in my hand. Yes, because I was trying to think like I was only two thirties old.
My daughter is turning 30 herself next week. Should I give her a card advising her to think of 30 as two fifteens? It’s just her first thirty.
But I love thinking like I’m only 30. How many times has someone said “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Well there is the first 30, wide eyed, trusting only those also under the age of 30, and eager to experience whatever the Universe has to offer. Then there is the second 30 years, definitely different than the first but I’m still living it.
Since I am past 60 now, I have to consider the third thirty, OMG! On my way to 90? Yes it’s true. But now that you told me one of the secrets to living a long life – being in love and someone loving me back – I feel much better, calmer and at peace. My daughter fell in love this week, what a great 30th birthday gift! Should I get her 30 lottery tickets for her birthday?
Did I tell you what happened with the lottery tickets? I took them all in, the cashier ran the numbers through their magic lottery machine and I won…….wait for it…………..one dollar! I have all the tickets and the one dollar bill paper clipped together somewhere.
I love you too!
L

About the Bloggers:
D & L are over 60, in love and happily reside in San Diego, California.
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Welcome to Highway 60…

So it finally happened. After all the years – decades, in fact – of waiting and worrying and wishing this day would never come, it did.

You turned 60…

Hang on just a second, there’s really no need to go out and buy black outfits for the immediate family. There’s actually some good news that goes along with having reached this milestone. Some very good news. And it has to do with how many others are out there, just like you and me. Let’s go to the scoreboard:

Today in America there are more than 60 million people over age 60. And according to actuarial experts (the people whose job it is to let the rest of us know just how soon we can count on various parts of our original equipment begin to shift, sag and stop working altogether) when you reach 60 you have a better than 40% chance of reaching age 92. And a better than 20% chance of reaching age 97. But there’s a catch…

That’s only if you’re with someone you love. Someone who loves you back. Someone who wakes up alongside you every morning and sees the same grey reflections in the same bathroom mirror. Because the absolute ruthless truth is, the odds of reaching those near-centennial numbers are far higher if you try to make the journey from here to eternity on your own.

SHARING the journey. That’s the key. And that’s one of the other things we’ll be talking about on this new journey we’ll be sharing, too.

Finding love. Feeling loved. Holding on as tightly as we can, if at times with trembling hands, at a place in our lives where we finally know the difference between the GOOD STUFF and everything else that’s just STUFF.

Welcome to Highway 60. It promises to be quite a ride…

D & L are over 60, in love and happily reside in San Diego, California
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