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I Talked to My Mother This Week

It has been a while since our readers have heard anything from us!  Sorry!  We hope to do better in 2016. First -time grandmotherhood for Jane and a job change for Annice made things a little crazy!I  But, here we go again!  Welcome back to Oops50, which should really be called Oops60 at this point, but we are fond of the original name!  Here’s Jane’s first post for the new year.  And, please, send us your posts!


I talked to my mother the other day.  The only reason that is worth mentioning is that my mother is dead. Here is how it happened.  I was driving by myself on a fairly long road trip—the perfect circumstance for me to think too much about things that are worrying me—and I realized that I was feeling overwhelmingly sad.  I just had one of those awful, down-to-your-toes sadnesses, and the first thought that came in my head was “I wish I could talk to Mama right now.”  That thought made me even sadder because one thing I miss more than anything since her death is the ability to pick up the phone and talk to her about things—bad and good—that happen in my life.  But then, I had this thought:  ‘why not just talk to her now?’  And then I entered this very strange place where I imagined myself dialing her number (since most of my conversations with her happened over our land line and not by cell phone!), and then I had a conversation with her.

First, I apologized for not calling in so long, and then I launched right in to telling her about everything that was on my mind. And, the next thing you know, I was crying—just like the old days.  I talked and talked and cried and cried, about every last little thing that was bothering me, and as I talked and cried, I felt the muscles around my heart start to loosen up, and I could feel myself start to breathe a little easier, and I realized how much tension and worry I had been holding in.  And then—and this is the really remarkable thing about it—I felt that tremendous sense of release and relief that I used to feel when Mama would say something as basic as “I hate for you to be feeling this way, darling” or, her standard, “Get some rest, and I know you will feel better.”  It was as if Mama, from across the miles and years and clouds or whatever is between us had said, “Everything is going to be all right,” and, wonder of wonders, I believed her.  And, for the rest of the day—and even now, a few days later, I’m still feeling the effect. 

My family of origin!  Mama's in the middle, with me to her left.
My family of origin! Mama’s in the middle, with me to the left, back row.

I have to say:  I’m glad I was on a road trip when this happened and not driving down a street of my town.  No one could see me or overhear me, so they couldn’t accuse me of losing my mind and hanging out with ghosts.  But I had this urge to share this experience on the blog because I highly recommend it to those of you have a mother who has moved on to her reward:  give her a call sometime!

Introducing Our New Blogger and Friend, Elaine Robinson Beattie

Elaine Robinson Beattie

So I pondered night after night on how to introduce myself to you.  I finally decided I would begin with the present and work my way back.  Most people describe me as a creative, energetic, a self-starter, and a highly motivated visionary and entrepreneur who loves the Lord.  I am also well known for my gift of hospitality, a field of work I enjoyed for over 25 years.  In short, I would say I am called to love, lead, create and serve and I do this in various ways with the various roles and positions.

Having turned 53 last June, I find myself now newly married for the first time, a daughter with 2 siblings, a business owner, corporate coach, health leader, community organizer, workshop facilitator, speaker and friend.  This is what I do.  And yes, I’m part of the baby boomer generation.


So what do I believe?  Most importantly I believe in God; I am a woman of great faith and hope.  I believe people are basically good and that we are all born with at least one gift that allows us to be prosperous.  I believe in love, a deep passionate love of family, friends, and our life’s work.  I believe in support, coaching, teamwork, lifelong learning, mentors, diversity, girlfriends and REST.  In fact, I hope to be known as the Queen of REST.

I love God, my husband  Chuck  aka Dr. Blues, chocolate, spa-ing, brownies, traveling, girl movies, fine hotels and resorts; dining with friends, life changing sermons, dancing to great music, a good spy series , great conversations with fellow visionaries, and last but not least, I love to pray and to relax with my sweet dog, Ella Fitzgerald Robinson Beattie.

Ella Fitzgerald Robinson Beattie.

I hope to connect with you on many levels.  I will be sharing my thoughts on my favorite topics: leadership and faith.  I hope to be a carrier of goods news and encouragement.  In fact, just call me Elaine, the midwife of hope.  This is perhaps a good place to pause until next time.  Always remember these words: “I surrender, I win!”


Oops50 Book Review: Saving Gracie by Jill Teitelman


We’re welcoming back guest blogger and fellow baby boomer, Sharon Willen, from What’s up This Time .  We hope to convince her to blog more often with Oops50 because she’s such a thoughtful reviewer of books, film, music, art, etc.  Here is her critique of Jill Teitelman’s new book called Saving Gracie.

The story of Ruth Kooperman’s rocky journey from carefree East Village poet to last-minute mother to single suburban mom was a bit like peering into one of those fun-house mirrors at the county fair.  On so many pages I saw my own life reflected, just a bit warped or shifted off kilter.

Ruth:  Jewish, almost forty, had intended to become a famous writer, but wound up teaching English and writing “poignant short stories” based on her series of calamitous relationships with men and being published in little magazines without fanfare.  She pursued a career while her friends one by one got married and had babies.

Me:  Jewish, single till I was thirty five, used my degree in English to begin a career in publishing and writing which morphed into teaching middle school English and writing poetry and short stories that never saw the light of day and non-fiction texts, newsletters and public relations materials published for limited distribution in the business world.

Saving Gracie

We both lived lives that mimicked TV series, “Sex and the City” – chasing adventures in the Big Apple (and around the world) that were empty fun, but might become stories worth writing about.  We both viewed Motherhood as “a masochistic Olympic event others competed in for unimaginable reasons, like wrestling or the luge” until we both realized that “too much freedom was starting to feel as bad as not enough.”  Pushed into a corner by the menopause clock, we each came face to face with Ruth’s deepest, most important question, “Why did I jump on the Liberation train without asking where it would take me?” However, we answered it differently.

I remember my own aghast and offended reaction when someone, a male friend, actually listened to me complain about the lack of quality men in my twenty-something social world and suggested seriously that I stop looking for a partner and start looking for a man who could be the father to my children.

What? Put the kids’ needs before my own, before I even tied the knot?  No way.  Not ever.  When Ruth became obsessed with finding “the right man” to father the child she isn’t certain she wants but can’t stop thinking about – that’s where we parted company.

As the balance of the novel unfolded, I liked Ruth less and less.  Her story went from mildly amusing to un-engaging. I found reading every niddling detail of her bad dates and impulsive behavior as uninteresting as re-reading the teen-age journals I unearthed cleaning out the basement this summer (“Went to Social Studies, nothing happened. Wish Mark S. would ask me to the prom. Wish anyone would ask me to the prom. Hope my SAT’s are high enough to get into a good college.”).

Who cares?

Ruth chooses the least objectionable man she comes in contact with, gets pregnant, does not get married, but manipulates her unwilling partner into a conflict-filled version of co-parenting, then abandons him for single-motherhood and gets into an ill-fated marriage with another “also ran” in the dating sweepstakes – staying ever devoted to her son, but simultaneously complaining about her lot in life at every turn of the page.

I found her character to be believable, but annoying, if not offensive.  Ruth’s connection with Grace Stein at Cedar Grove Pre-school Parents’ Night, almost half-way through the book, was the turning point for me.

Grace was a more traditional Jewish woman in a storybook marriage, a talented mother and beloved member of her Synagogue and the general community as well.  As they became fast friends, the character of Grace introduces an easy-going comic relief to the book that balances Ruth’s selfish whining and never-ending angst.  I cared about Grace when she lost her husband Max and kept reading to find out her fate and that of her two sons when she herself was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Had it not been for Grace, I probably would have abandoned Ruth’s story.

I’m not sure that’s what Jill Teitelman meant when she (or a clever editor?) chose the title, but for me, at least, this counterpoint character was the book’s only saving grace.


As you know, Oops50 is not a literary blog but a site dedicated to women baby boomers  – a place where we share whatever we feel like.  And today, I want to share an essay, 5/28/58 written by our friend, Terri Kirby Erickson.  

Terri is the author of three collections of poetry, including her latest book, In the Palms of Angels (Press 53), which won a 2012 Nautilus Silver Award for Poetry and a Gold Medal for Poetry in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.  Her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in American Life in Poetry, 2013 Poet’s Market, The Christian Science Monitor and many other publications.  She lives in North Carolina.  Please visit her website for more information about her books and poetry.


Terri Kirby Erickson

It would be convenient to blame Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63, wherein a guy who owns a diner in Lisbon Falls, Maine, finds a portal to the past—a certain day in 1958—for the longing I feel these days, when I think about my childhood.  But I’m only on page 81 of Mr. King’s 842-page book, and I was feeling this way before I ever checked it out of the library.

No doubt memory has put a patina on my early years that have rendered them golden in my mind’s eye.  Intellectually, I understand that life wasn’t perfect when I was a kid, that I still sometimes felt afraid (particularly of what might be hiding under my bed at night), and my family didn’t have a lot of money, which meant that my father worked two jobs sometimes, instead of one.  Also there were the usual number of bullies in the neighborhood, injuries suffered in bike accidents, etc., and my mother often served peas for dinner, which I cleverly hid beneath piles of mashed potatoes.

I’m well aware, too, that the 1960’s were tumultuous years in our nation’s history.  But children back then were not necessarily macrocosmic thinkers.  All that existed for us was our own neighborhood, the people we knew.  There was no such thing as the Internet, and we were too busy playing outside to watch much television.

For us, every day unfolded like a flower.  My parents were young and beautiful.  My grandparents and my little brother, Tommy, were still alive.  And I felt safe, loved, and happier than I’ve ever been since then, mostly because I didn’t know that unhappiness was an option.  Summers above all, were magical.  Centuries passed between the moment I woke up in the morning in a body so new it practically hummed with health and vigor, and suppertime, after which we still had hours of daylight left.

And death, although we knew about it through the loss of an occasional pet or finding a dead bird in the yard—was something that only happened to ancient animals and people, and it would be a thousand years before anyone we knew, including ourselves, could possibly die.  Besides, we would all “wake up” in heaven, a wonderful place where good people and animals go when they pass away.  We didn’t know anyone who wasn’t good except for the aforementioned bullies, and they deserved whatever was coming to them as far as we were concerned.

I still believe in heaven, but I’ve lost count of all the loved ones who are there, now.  I miss them more than I can say, especially Tommy, who was killed in an accident when he was twenty.  If I’d known what was going to happen to my brother, I would have let him hang out more, with me and my friends.  I wouldn’t have cast the blame on him for schemes that I cooked up.  I would have been a better sister, all around.

But none of us knows what lies ahead, which is probably for the best.  What I do know is that I’m very glad I was born to my particular parents in my particular town—that I have my own “portal” to 1958, the year of my birth, and I don’t need a diner in Maine to find it.  And I’m lucky enough as a writer, myself, to have such a wealth of memories from which to draw for my work—to have the opportunity to make the past come alive for readers who have walked a similar path, and others (including my own lovely daughter!) who will not know what it was like to be a child in the 1960’s, unless we tell them.

But I have to admit, it would be nice to wake up tomorrow morning feeling like I did when I was six, to climb one more tree without being afraid of falling.  On second thought, maybe I’ll just write about it!

Later this week, we will share a poem by Terri.

Terri on her Swing


Sadhvi’s World: Yea, it’s Spring!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Pruning, replanting fruit trees and moving the increasingly invasive butterfly bushes and the normal spring clean-up that happens every year had Sakshi and mephysically spent at the end of each day. The older we get, the more I realize how much we do! What was once taken for granted, is now watched and witnessed with surprise and sometimes amusement.

I also celebrated, along with my family & friends (you know who you are…and since this is not FaceBook, or Pinterest, or LinkedIn or…I can have some secrets!) my 54th birthday. There have been years when I didn’t want anyone to know, but this year wasn’t one of those. I am no longer shy about getting older. I also can accept that I am now part of the older generation. I won’t be looking like I did when I was 28 (except on FaceBook), and I will start to look like my dead ancestors.

There was no snow all winter, and it’s now summer-like. I can also hear the grass growing, really. The birds are back, the flowers are opening and dying in what seems like a quick procession, and suddenly, the air feels alive.

I saw one wayward yellow butterfly, happily flying and dancing, all by itself the other day. I don’t normally see them until the end of August, when the Mexican Sunflowers are blooming. The strange feeling at seeing it now, in March, was mixed with a certain joy at watching it move across the yard, and then seeing the hens all stop and look up at the same time as it passed over their heads.

No matter what, Spring is most definitely my favorite season.

I just went out and took some pictures of what I see.

I hope you are enjoying your Spring (or Fall) too!