There are times when “old lady” are fightin’ words, and then again, there are days when “old lady” is just what I want to be as my children insisted we should definitely celebrate by 90th birthday.

I had no way of knowing just where we were heading, but the next thing I knew, I was flying down to Berkeley, Calif., accompanied by the Seattle contingent, to celebrate my extraordinary accomplishment. Newman Center was there, and I was delighted that the soiree was to be there.

When we arrived at Newman, I was graced with an exquisite lei and led into the banquet room to a cast of thousands, all looking at us as we walked in, all of them smiling.


The past in the present

My past had caught up with me. I looked around and gradually distinguished faces. I was amazed.

I spotted my brother’s widow, and I recalled introducing them to each other when we were all in high school.

I spotted my childhood friend, which really surprised me as she and I are now living on opposite sides of the United States. We were inseparable, even dancing around the Maypole at the proper time. We have remained so all these years: With the help of such magic as cell phones, Smartphones and e-mail, we keep up an unending conversation.

There were our ex-neighbors who bought our house when we moved and let all our children and grandchildren come back to explore it.

My crack-of-dawn tennis partner was there, and my cohort at KGO-TV in San Francisco, who had put together an album of our wild days in television.

The little boys whose shoes I used to tie were there, towering over me. 

Children’s friends were there, and people I hadn’t seen in too long a time.


Meeting new friends

When I returned home, I had much to think about — mainly, what is friendship and what makes an old friend different from a new friend. Maybe it’s just a matter of time passing, of different times and different places.

Later, I heard a knock at my door: a new friend at a new time and a new place, asking if I’d like to wander to Tully’s for a cup of coffee and discuss the problems of the world and how we would solve them if the VIPs realized that mothers are born problem-solvers.

Later, I inevitably stop at Bert’s Red Apple, as I’m sure I need something and talk cereals with an equally bewildered cereal shopper and agree to continue the discussion later on.

At last, I head for home, walk into the lobby and see friendly faces and talk, talk, talk.

New friends are as necessary for my existence as the old. Without one or the other, my life would be drag.


ROBERTA COLE, a Madison Park resident, writes about seniors’ issues.