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Director's Message

Witness to my Life December 2010

We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."  Beverly Clark in Shall We Dance

 

My family just celebrated my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary, which brought to mind this scene from the movie Shall We Dance. I keep thinking about what it means to be a witness to someone’s life for 60 or more years.

 
Our siblings are our first witnesses. They can testify to the early experiences—both good and bad. They can validate your memories of family traditions and major events. Remember the way Aunt Mary pinched our cheeks? How hard it was to move to a new country?   Where the candy jar was at the local store? Some of us are fortunate enough to have life-long close relationships with siblings, but many have grown apart over time. 
 
Then there are our life partners. I don’t doubt but that my parents have been each other’s chief companion, supporter, sharer of memories…and witness to life. No one else knows the peaks and valleys in a life better than a life partner who is your best friend. I remember the year that Scott and I realized that we had lived together longer than with any other person, including siblings and parents. After 35 years, we know each other far better than our families do. We have celebrated the joys of the births of our children, traveled, supported each other through job challenges and school, bought and renovated homes, done service projects, helped each other through emotional hurdles and health events. At times it has been rough, but we can look back now and know we got through them together. I think that being a witness to a shared life is part of what got us through those times. I know what you went through because I was there.
 
When I think of witnesses to my life, I also think of my female friends. I have a group of friends that has been gathering regularly for at least 20 years. We’ve laughed and cried through births, divorces, marriages, job changes, health events and more. One of my best friends is retiring and moving away at the end of this school year. We have known each other over 25 years, raised children together, shared vacations, carpools, and countless miles of walking (not to mention talking!). We have certainly shared the mundane, the spectacular, the good and the bad times. We can sense a lot without saying anything, and have shared things with each other that are hard to share with husbands. I will miss her deeply.
 
This experience gives me empathy for my mother and others who are experiencing deep sadness as her dearest friends are dying or disappearing into dementia and serious illness. These women were the witnesses to her life, the ones with whom she went to college, raised children, worked, worshiped, did service, and played for 60 years. 
 
My mother has done a great job of replenishing her friendship network. She has a “lunch ladies” group of women at least 15 years younger, and has mentored and befriended many others. They are the witnesses to these later decades of her life. But I don’t think they fully replace the long-term friends. As we get nearer the end of our life journey, we often seek our legacy, the enduring mark we will make on the world. Our witnesses are the ones who have noticed what we have done.
 
Who are the witnesses to your life? Whose life have you witnessed? Have you told them how important they are in your life story?
 

Previous Messages

Cues & Clues

Recharging

GrandPals Celebrate 20 Years!

Multi-generational Households

No One Ages Well Alone

Help at Home

Gratitude

November 2016 Family Caregiving

October 2016 Annual Report

September 2016 Corporate Healthcare

Strategic Planning

Is Your Home Age- Friendly?

May 2016 Director's Message Part 2 - We Need Your Help

May 2016 - Part 1 - Going Solo

April 2016 - Volunteering

March 2016 - Partners In Caring

February 2016 - PSRC's Strategic Plan

January 2016 - Hope

December 2015 - Gratitude

November 2015 - Helicopter Children

October 2015 - Is Princeton An Age Friendly Community?

September 2015 - Annual Report

July & August 2015 - Family and Community

June 2015 - A Gift that Keeps Giving

May 2015 60 Is the New 60

April 2015 - Spring

March 2015 - Being Mortal

February 2015 - Mentoring

January 2015 - Winter Blues

December 2014 - Leaving A Legacy

October 2014 An Age Friendly Future

September 2014 Annual Report

July - August 2014

June 2014 - Romance After 50

May 2014 - Your Virtual Estate

April 2014 - Memory and Forgetting

March 2014 - Aging in Community

Observational Stay

February 2014 - Family Caregiving

January 2014 - Attitudes about Aging

December 2013 - Giving

November 2013 - Healthcare Marketplace

October 2013 - Annual Report 2013

September 2013 - Total Brain Health® Fair

July - August 2013 My cat, My Father and Me

June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities

May 2013 - Navigating a Changing HealthCare Landscape

April 2013 - Becoming Visible

March 2013 - Navigating Life’s Transitions

February 2013 - Partners in Caring Princeton

January 2013 - Men as Caregivers

December 2012 - The Safety Net

November 2012 - Going Solo

October 2012 - Documenting Your History

September 2012 - A Journey of Transformation

July - August 2012 - Gratitude & Moving

June 2012 - Diversity

May 2012- Aging in America

APRIL 2012 - TEN YEARS

March 2012 - Patient-centered Care

February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?

January 2012 - Challenges & Opportunities

December - Are you Prepared for Emergencies?

November - We need YOU!

October - Chocolate for Memory

September- Looking Back and Looking Forward

July - August 2011; Ageism

June 2011 - Accessibility

May 2011 - Paper retention

Knit Wits, April 2011

Lessons and Legacies, March 2011

Independent Living February 2011

Home Safety January 2011

Witness to my Life December 2010

Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010

Retire in 3D!

Strategic Planning September 2010

Am I Old? July 2010

Memory Clutter June 2010

Aging In America May 2010

Volunteering April 2010

Spirituality March 2010

Estate Planning February 2010

Encore Careers January 2010

Hiring Home Care December 2009

Annual Giving by Sharon Naeole November 2009

Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009

Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind September 2009

A Personal Perspective on Caregiving July/August 2009

TRANSPORTATION May 2009

Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity April 2009

Write your own obituary March 2009

Hobbies February 2009

Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
January 2009

Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look! December 2008

Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008

Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning October 2008

September 2008 Caregiver Dilemmas

Finding Rhythm and Purpose July/August 2008

Spring Cleaning II June 2008

V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008

Spring Cleaning April 2008

Have You Had the Talk Yet? March 2008

Get Moving with FitRhythms™! February 2008

My Condolences January 2008

Advocacy December 2007

What Are Social Services? November 2007

Sensitive Topics October 2007

Plan for the Future September 2007

The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007

Volunteering June 2007

Strategic Plan May 2007

National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007

Brain Health March 2007

Resiliency February 2007

Transportation January 2007

Season of Giving December 2006

Medicare Part D November 2006

April Hill McElroy October 2006

Civic Engagement September 2006

Change June 2006

White House Conference on Aging May 2006

Hearing Loss April 2006

GrandPals March 2006

Lets Talk February 2006

Eldertopia January 2006

Hoarding December 2005

Annual Report: November 2005

Are You Prepared? October 2005

Planning Ahead October 2005

Watch Your Language September 2005

Medicare Part D Summer 2005

Sue Tillett June 2005

The End of the Journey May 2005

Clutter March 2005

New Dietary Guidelines February 2005

Transitions January 2005

Funding December 2004

Caregiving November 2004

Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004

A New Look September 2004

Safe Driving Summer 2004

Food Safety June 2004

Communication June 2004

The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004

Seniors On The Move April 2004

Depression March 2004

McGreevey February 2004

Medications January 2004

Random Acts of Kindness December 2003

Civic Engagement November 2003

Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003

Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003


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