Spring Forward!

The entire elementary school was to participate in a play called, The Season of Happiness. My fourth grade class was assigned the part a “jury” of forest animals who one by one had to stand and vote for a season. I was decked out as a squirrel and had one line. “Spring!” Being shy to the point of selective mutism, I was quite nervous anticipating my big moment. Would I trip on my bushy tail? Would I forget my one syllable line? Well, I guess I nailed it because I remember thinking, Ah, this is my future! I had heard that shy kids come alive when they adopt another identity on stage. My squirrel self would obviously lead to Shakespeare. Or maybe an appearance on one of my favorite TV shows like Get Smart (Agent 99’s young assistant?) or Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingall’s best friend?)

But alas, my one and only line remained just that. The following year my class was the choir and the music teacher took me aside and asked that I mouth the words and refrain from belting out what was apparently not exactly on key. (I never sang aloud again, thanks to Mrs. Thayer.)

But one thing did emerge from my brief but stellar theatric career. Spring still gets my vote for the happiest season! And that’s not just the squirrel in me talking. I love March in Chicago where snow makes valiant attempts to demand shoveling, but then is rained out two slushy days later. I love April when robins debate whether to rehab an old nest or try a new build. And I love May when flowers blast their color combinations and our wintry, nightmare-ish forest preserve is transformed into full green glory.

Spring IS the season of happiness and there is science to back that up.

According to The Massachusetts Daily Collegian: An increase in exposure to sunlight in Spring and Summer is able to produce an increase in feelings of positivity on two counts: our bodies’ natural and chemical reaction to getting more vitamin D and the consequences of getting to spend more time outside. Exposure to sunlight also increases the production of serotonin in the body.  Psychology Today calls serotonin “The Confidence Molecule” because higher serotonin levels are associated with increased self-esteem and happiness.

Spring of 2021 brings light that goes beyond the normal burst of serotonin – we are emerging from the tunnel of Covid and catching a glimpse of brighter days – when vaccinated Grandmas can hold their arms wide to receive running hugs from toddlers or finally get to hold their four month old grand baby for the first time.

When we move our clocks forward this Spring of 2021, let’s celebrate that tunnel giving way to light. Let’s raise our glass in remembrance of those who succumbed to the virus, let’s toast the nurses and doctors who held phones to their ears as they lay dying; let’s thank God for the companionship of dogs who never left our side, and let’s hail the robins as they show us what rebirth looks like.

This Spring I may just have to dress up as a squirrel and relive my glory days on the stage!

Today’s Takeaways

-Hey Mrs. Thayer, you can’t dismiss me from singing to myself, joining a choir of angels thanking God for reminders of rebirth.

– Not everyone can pull off that bushy tail look. It takes practice. 🙂

Enjoy the ride!


Barclay and Joy

Apricity-it’s a real thing! Who knew?

I read an article last week on the change in lighting at this time of the year, more daylight hours, sunset coming just that much later, Spring is finally in the air!

The word “Apricity” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means ‘the warmth of the sun in winter.” The word appears to have entered the English language in 1623 when a man named Henry Cockeram coined it and added it to his dictionary. Who knows? This could be a question on Jeopardy, should you be a contestant at some time in your life

It got me to thinking how important weather is to me, light, sun, the warmth of the sun. It is definitely something that I inherited from my mother before me, who would raise the shades in my room every morning to let the sunshine in, sometimes waking me up when I wasn’t ready to emerge from my very comfortable childhood bed! My mother gave me a weather report every morning, whether I asked for one or not. Weather clearly was important to her too. Perhaps, I should have been a meteorologist and given Ginger Zee some competition or Al Roker. A career for another lifetime!

The change in air, lighting, amount of sunshine, even when it’s still cold outside, gives one hope. The long winter of the Northeast and for my dear friend Barclay, the Midwest, is nearing its end. It’s been a cold one and a very snowy one-think of our readers in Texas where they were pummeled with snowy conditions that they just aren’t used to or equipped to handle. Power grids being effected, car pile ups, lack of warmth and basics for everyday living.

We are close to Spring on the calendar with the equinox March 20th and daylight savings time March 14th. Spring forward. That is indeed what we should strive to do, especially this year. Coming out of our long hibernation, we ponder what life will be like in the next few months. Many of us have lived cautious existences, being afraid to be too close to anyone for fear of spreading a virus that is lurking out there waiting to get us. Now, many of us in the appropriate age groups are getting double vaccinated and, perhaps, we can breathe a little easier, get a little closer, prudently, of course.

Studies have shown the effects of weather for years with cities like Seattle, Portland, London, New Orleans, etc being difficult places to live for lack of sunshine for long periods or heavy rainfalls during the winter months. SAD is a real thing. Seasonal Affective Disorder. When my daughter moved to London for graduate school, I was so concerned about her moods and personality being effected, that I bought her a sun lamp to help her get through the dreary winter months. It does help! Not a magic bullet , but helpful for sure and cheaper than a trip to the Caribbean, which we can’t do yet anyway!

Adding to my ponderings during this 2nd week in March, get out there and experience apricity! It’s there for the taking and it feels delicious. A lot better than frostbite!

Today’s Takeaway…

I just learned a cool new word that you can use for another week or so. Maybe, it will help you in Scrabble or impress your friends and family!

Go outside and look for crocus. They are peeking out from under the soil now waiting to welcome the Spring equinox and the time change.

Weather really does matter! Be happy when the sun is shining.

As always, enjoy the ride

x0x Barclay & Joy

If Only…

It happened again the other day. I heard about someone who had switched careers and was now working in early intervention, visiting families to provide services to newly diagnosed babies. She was doing this amid raising her own children and during a pandemic. Rather than being inquisitive, I began to chide myself — If only YOU had pursued this career. Why aren’t YOU visiting families? Too busy binge watching Bridgerton?? I became both victim and bully, a feat that one can perfect when one is retired and sitting on one’s bed watching a frigid snow globe out the window. (I am also practiced in the art of becoming my dear mother, whose approval was never quite attainable, just one tennis trophy away, one number on the scale too far.)

We all have our If Only’s – self-generated voices citing regrets. If only you had applied yourself in school, gone to a better school, gone to school, written a book, exercised more, eaten less, not said those words, said those words, forgiven someone, forgiven yourself, asked for forgiveness, taken more risks, loved more, compared less.

What is the anecdote to this If-Only cycle of regret – the epitome of unproductive thinking? This time of isolation offers us opportunity to take a step back and sift the practical from the impractical and identify what we CAN do in our baby boomer years. First, we are probably not going to embark on a medical career; we won’t be sharing our research with Dr. Fauci or stumble on the cure for cancer. In fact, we will not be embarking on ANY career. That time has passed. We should come to terms with the fact that we will not be on the next flight to Mars, or be seeded at the next Wimbledon.

Those If Only’s need to disperse and find younger folks in the dreaming stage of mid-stream. We are nearing the water’s edge, soon to be propelled to an ocean’s merging. We have to take inventory of the time we have left, the days fully in our purview. There is potential in the word NOW. It implies a second chance, a rising up with the energy of an espresso and a new morning brewing.

We can’t play on Wimbledon’s grassy stage, but we can dream about sitting in the stands. We won’t be visiting a family to provide therapy, but we can pray for babies and dream about holding them while their harried, young parents deal with untold stresses. We can’t work side by side with amazing Dr. Fauci, but we can help an elderly person secure an elusive vaccine appointment, or bring a fruit basket to those suffering the ravages of Covid. We likely won’t write a best selling children’s book, but we can buy one and volunteer at the local school, or if we are blessed to have them, read to our grand babies.

It is said that to whom much is given, much is expected. Many of us have been given much. So instead of saying, If only, we should be saying, “If only today…” In other words, let’s live life as if THIS is the only day we have.

All that said, if you were to accidentally refer to me as Dr. Marcell, I may not correct you. And as for Bridgerton, let’s be grateful we were not born into the British Regency era with its confining corsets and unyielding caste system, irrespective of that impossibly handsome duke. And don’t you dare think, If only… 🙂

Joy here with my two-cents contribution to today’s post, which was originally intended to be light and airy —

I watched Bridgerton in three sittings, definitely fitting the binge description. For three afternoons, breaking my no-tv-during-the-day retirement rule, I was swept away to a period of opulence, debauchery, elegance, ridiculous over the top social stratification and objectification of women (Gloria Steinem would be screaming!) I loved every morsel, every crumb, but in this bleak winter of snow, bitter cold, and smashing records of every kind, I was transported to a fairy tale land of gorgeous people, exquisite settings, and sumptuous costumes. So no profound thoughts. My wonderful writing partner has taken care of those earlier in this post, but just a pure unadulterated confession that sometimes, escaping to a magical place, whether in literature, film, or tv is okay.

Today’s Takeaways-

-NOW is telling you to take a walk, between those eight foot snow drifts and be grateful you have legs to support you.

-Make it a prayer walk. Covid is still raging.

-Your Duke may be the one you are currently sharing your life with.

Enjoy the ride!


Joy and Barclay

How Joy Ends Up at The Jersey Shore in January!

Most people do not spend the winter on the Jersey Shore They retreat to warm climes like Florida, Arizona, or in our case, Mexico. Parts of Jersey are absolutely beautiful and not at all what my brain visualizes. As with many people, my vision was based on the popular TV program of 2009-2012 (did it really run that long?!!) with characters like Snooki and JWoww portraying a stereotypical Italian family of beach vacationers. I watched the show once. Not being a reality TV fan, it wasn’t my bag. I digress…

This was to be my husband’s and my fifth winter in Ajijic, our little ex-pat home in Mexico. Two weeks before the departure date, as David went to pack, he noticed (quite to his surprise – make that, disbelief!) that his passport had expired in November!!! It was almost 11:30 on a Friday night, so after a series of expletives left my lips, we realized we had to come up with a solution to our new-found predicament.

Why do problems always arise on a weekend?! I scoured blog after blog and the entire U.S State Department’s website looking for information detailing what a renewal of a passport means in the time of Covid. Expedite takes on a totally new meaning. Everything I read indicated the renewal would take between four to six weeks, rather than the 72 hours it used to take if you paid extra and went directly to a passport office. Oh so long ago! Covid has turned everything on its head.

Monday morning, we found out that everything I had read was indeed the case, so after filling out the application and taking the requisite photo, as well as paying an additional fee, there wasn’t much we could do but wait it out. Me, being an action driven person, knew I had to figure out a back-up plan. Small detail, we had rented out our primary residence for the first time ever and those people had given up their lease to move to our house the following week.

Thank God I am blessed with wonderful friends and family members. I made several frantic calls explaining our soon to be homeless situation. Lesson to be learned, always make friends with beach houses! You never know when they might come in handy. We wound up with several choices, all excellent, but my good friend A suggested waiting out the passport delay at her place on the Jersey Shore – Long Beach Island, or LBI for those in the know. Not a bad option!

So, dog in tow and bags packed with sweaters instead of bathing suits and shorts, we wait for the passport. With vaccinations rolling out for us “elderly” folk, we hope to be inoculated before leaving the United States for what might not be winter by the time we get there!

Life throws us curves constantly. We must be ready to catch them, pivot, go with the flow. If we don’t, we will be miserable and grumpy, a state of being I can’t be with a name like “joy”! So much pressure.

So, this morning as I walked the dog on the beach with the sun rising over the beautiful Atlantic, I thought to myself, how lucky am I? Winter at the Jersey Shore, a wonderful surprise!

Today’s Takeaway.s..

-Be flexible. Go with the flow. Embrace what life tosses your way.

-As my daughter, Dana, said to me when learning of the passport fiasco, “No one died. No one has Covid. You will or you won’t get to winter in the Mexican sunshine this year.” Not so terrible. For sure, first world problems!!

Again, thank you, A, for being our savior!

Enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joy

2020, Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

Barclay here.

My bangs were too long and refused to be swept to the side. It was time to show them the scissors. Now in the past, this has resulted in short, uneven locks, so before chopping, I decided to consult an online expert. I found a cheerful YouTuber with a confident air and perfect, wispy bangs. Her first bit of bang-cutting wisdom? Don’t go near the scissors if you are drunk. She was quite serious about this. She said that this past year many people tried to cut their own hair during and after happy hour and the results were not pretty. Isn’t that so 2020? Cocktails have been starting earlier and earlier, bringing with them the temptation to create a new you, forgetting the small fact that you were not a rising star in cosmetology school, for the simple reason that you did not attend one.

I took the YouTuber’s sage wisdom to heart. But I still wound up with non-wispy bangs.

2020 has brought us not only uneven hair, but also a nostalgia for former days when we did not have to scurry across the street at the sight of another dog walker heading our way, or glare at that Costco shopper whose mask kept slipping below his nose as he drifted into our six feet of space. We are yearning for normalcy. We are ready to welcome 2021 to the stage and boot 2020 out the door. Here at Revisionist Retirement, we wish for you –

Family get-togethers where old gripes have dimmed because you are so appreciative of seeing each other in person and not as postage stamps on your laptop screen.

Dining and shopping inside, flashing your teeth as you smile broadly at pure strangers, sparking conversations, just pleased that your smile is visible.

Walking in the company of more than one person, side by side, not separated by the entire street and not having to yell through a mask.

Freedom from fear. Not thinking a sneeze is a straight shot to hospitalization and a ventilator.

Seeing a movie. In a theatre. With people around, munching greasy popcorn.

Attending church in person, sweating through a yoga class, gabbing with your hairdresser. Traveling to see friends and family for big turkey dinners and lazy TV watching.

And a deeper faith in your God who sees it all – the scary sneezes, the tired dogs, and the choppy bangs.


Joy here.

On the hair note, let me add, that I’d never seen that much grey in my hair. In May when I began to see it glaring back at me, I texted my good friend, Bruce, for help. He styles and colors hair for a living and has for decades. He very sweetly came upstate, over two- and- a half hours away to rescue me from old age! Outside in the fresh air with accoutrements packed neatly, he restored my youth! Boy, was I thankful for having a colorist as a friend!

2020 also meant not seeing my family. I missed my older daughter who was in lockdown abroad. I hadn’t seen her in nine months – the longest I had ever gone without seeing her. My heart ached for a hug, a smile, a Zoom-less get together. As for my younger daughter, she was hunkered down for three months in California learning to adjust to living with her boyfriend. (If that isn’t a way to speed up a relationship or destroy it, I don’t know what is!)

The pandemic taunted us and played with our emotions. Would I get it? Would my friends or loved ones get it? How could we, who are now considered “elderly” (only chronologically!), protect ourselves from something that seemed to stymie even the most brilliant scientists and research?

Barclay and I are looking forward to 2021 which represents a light at the end of this long dark road. We anxiously await hugs upon hugs. Kisses too. Human touch. (Please don’t make hand shakes a thing of the past.) We find peace knowing that we have not gone through this alone, but have been surrounded by so many who share our state of mind. Eventually, the vaccine will be given to all who want it, whether you are next in line or 20 groups behind. There is hope that this too shall pass and enter the annals of history, as did the 1918 Spanish flu, SARS, MERS, H1N1, and Ebola.

So, good-bye 2020. We don’t love you; we only knew you for a couple of short months before you turned ugly. But thank you for reminding us to be grateful for people, family, and faith.

We wish you, our readers, our loyal followers and those who have just read us for the first time, peace, joy, good health and, of course, perfect bangs!

Enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joy

A Shortage of Christmas Trees? And it’s not because of the Grinch!

I began to notice people carting away Christmas trees this year right after Thanksgiving. It was very noticeable. It was as though they were waiting for that last piece of pumpkin pie to be digested so that they could get to the tree lot.

Many people have moved up to the Hudson Valley these last few months, the part of New York state that I live in for half the year. With a change in demographics, a big bump up in population, I thought this might be a problem. I just had no idea that the trees would be virtually gone by the first weekend in December. Traditionally, I don’t put up our tree until the middle of the month, being in no rush to take the time to position the thing in the stand (always a fight waiting to happen as to whether it’s straight or not!) Then there’s the decorating, the lights, the wrapping of presents. Even though I have two grown daughters and no grand children, I take on Christmas the same way I always have. I revel in it’s traditions, I love the smell of pine when you first bring the tree into the house, the aroma of cookies baking in the oven and candles lit on the mantle.

Back to the Christmas trees. I thought about why there should be a shortage of trees so early in the season and the reason became clear. People were seeking something, anything to bring joy into their lives. The cover of Time magazine was recently entitled “The Power of JOYElevate your life. Finding Joy in Trying Times. A Spiritual Peak. If that didn’t say it all, I don’t know what did. We are social creatures, we want and need connection. We yearn to interact, to celebrate, to entertain, to be surrounded by people we care about, especially at holiday time, most especially now in this year of all years!

The buying of the Christmas trees so early was just what people needed to do and they did it early and in big numbers. Lots and farm stores told me that they were having their best year in decades! They only wished they had more trees to sell.

An article in The Wall Street Journal talked about eight foot Christmast trees in Hong Kong going for as much as $2,167 a pop. Who knew this phenomena was global! At that price, I’d go fake!

Apparently, a Christmas tree takes between 8-12 years to grow says an owner of one such farm in Oregon. He estimated that the smaller supply had increased prices by 30% over the last four years. So, it’s not in your imagination. These Christmas trees have become a luxury not all can afford.

With that in mind, after exhausting ACE Hardware and Loew’s, last ditch effort, I persuaded my very reluctant husband to go chopping with me in the Berkshires. On a beautiful Sunday, mid 50’s in temperature, incredibly mild for mid December, with saw in hand we climbed a hill and found our perfect tree. It was befitting of a Norman Rockwell scene. An experience to remember and a tree that will grace our home for the next couple of weeks until I sadly have to take it down.

Today’s Takeaway…

Be resilient. Be creative. Don’t let the economics of Christmas trees ruin your holiday.

For once, it wasn’t the Grinch who had anything to do with this scarcity. It was simply people searching early for “joy” ( I ought to know. I’ve been living with this name for a lot of years!

Enjoy the ride

xox Barclay & Joy

What is This Rainbow Bridge and Why Must Our Furry Friends Cross it?

Our family dog Colby passed away almost two years ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to write about it until now.

My dear friend and blogging partner lost her precious Kasie yesterday so as homage to all of us who have ever loved a pet (cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, …) I am moved to write.

Colby was almost 18 years old when he was put to sleep, March of 2019. He was a Schnoodle that we rescued from a Schnauzer rescue organization in NJ. Maybe, there aren’t enough Schnoodles in the New York area to rescue to warrant their own non profit!

After being interviewed as though we were adopting a child, driving from Westchester to Northern New Jersey to meet the dog in a vet’s office to be screened and vetted, and supplying references from friends and family, we were deemed worthy of Colby.

He was black in color and three years old at the time, feisty, a little shy (who wouldn’t be if they had been taken back to the pet store twice!) and slightly mistrusting. Did you know that black dogs are the hardest to place because of their color? True. Dogs are smart. They know who loves them and wants them. They size people up pretty quickly and their 6th sense is pretty darn good.

We picked him up at the Vince Lombardi gas stop right after you enter into NJ. He hopped out of the van he was brought in to say hello, spunky and curious about what was to come. He came with a stuffed dog, which we dubbed “Vince”, in honor of the place we met and where his new life began.

My older daughter was in her last year of high school at the time and my younger daughter three years her junior. Colby really became’ daughter #2’s best friend and my husband, who was by then doing a lot of work from home, his buddy too. I was working in the city and commuting so got to know Colby at a slower pace. I grew to love him as much as I had any other dog we had owned in the past (two before him, one who lived to almost 18 and the other almost 16)

As the years went by, our love grew stronger and our family bond with Colby was cemented for life. We took him on vacations, snuck him into hotel rooms where we knew he wasn’t allowed, dressed him up for Halloween, and made him chopped liver or steak for his birthday once a year.

Fast forward many years and I look back on him as our friend, consoler, therapist. confidante, and wise old soul.

Dogs provide us with enduring love, ask so little from us, and return so much. As with anything else in life, the decision to let go is very hard. It must be clear cut to you that it is time, not anyone else’s. You know your pet best.

Though he was almost blind, had evident signs of dementia, and walked very slowly, no longer interested in walks on a leash, he was not ready until that March of 2019. We were away for the winter and gave him many days of warm sunshine on those old bones rather than a winter of snow and cold. The weekend he stopped eating we knew. What “they” say is true. You know when it is time.

My husband and I brought him to our local vet wrapped in his favorite blanket. We knew in our hearts that it was time. We caressed him, kissed him, told him how much we loved him. We looked away for a split second and the shot had already been administered. Our vet was wonderful and allowed us as much time as we needed to cry. I hugged him for being the person he was, understanding completely the love a family has for a pet.

So to my dear friend, I know how much it hurts, how your heart feels ripped out, how a flood of memories keep going through your head, and how the house feels empty. You have Cody and I’m glad you do. Each dog or cat is unique and brings its own personality into the family. Cherish the time you had with Kacie. Rest in peace sweet thing.


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”-Anatole France

Enjoy the Ride-bumps and all

x0x Barclay & Joy

The Perspective of a US Census Taker

usa flag waving on white metal pole
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Last fall I filled out an application to be a U.S Census taker. I was newly retired and had the time. But mainly, I felt it was my civic duty. In prior decades, I had been a Vietnam protester, a women’s lib advocate, an outspoken New Yorker born in the shadow of Columbia University and fully identifying with the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) of the 1970s.

Now I saw a country more divided than ever, with racial tensions heightening, and unemployment surging. Could I actually make a difference  for those whom the Census affected – the underrepresented, the marginalized, the uncounted? My 1970s self applauded!

But I soon discovered that becoming a Census taker was more than hopping in my car with a clipboard in hand and patriotic zeal in my heart. 

I had to attend a training class followed by a comprehensive nine-hour module on how to be an exemplary “enumerator”. This is the first time that technology has been used in the Census. The interview process would be prompted by questions on a government issued phone with software prompting you from one screen to the next based on answers to questions. You are capturing data that will be submitted for analysis by our government. And with over 170,000 Covid related deaths, the demographic changes in our country have been profound and dollars need to be allocated in the best way possible – for senior centers, hospitals, and schools.

After completing the module and taking a quiz covering the basic material, I was deemed ready to hit the road and be in the field. And my particular field turned out to be mostly just that. I was assigned the rural countryside of Columbia County in upstate New York.

My first case on my first day showed exactly how rural my territory was. My GPS led me to a corn field where it announced with great satisfaction that I had arrived. I stared at the wide open space, my patriotic zeal a bit dampened. I soon discovered that addresses were often incorrect, that many houses had no numbers, and that there were residents of trailer parks and RVs who wanted to remain off the grid.

But I also learned that whether rural or urban, people are more alike than they are different. And everyone has a story. I am a definitive type A personality, and I relished the opportunity to learn these stories – people’s names, their ages and origin, who they live with, and how many were under the same roof. It was like being an investigator without having the background for it.

Some of the kindest, sweetest people I met were missing teeth and eating cheese doodles for dinner. In this socially distanced, Covid world, most people seemed to want to connect, to interact with another human being. I saw how many lonely people there were out there, pandemic or no pandemic.

One woman I met was just pulling  into her dusty, dirt driveway. After I identified myself, she asked if I could wait a moment while she checked on her three kids and her mom. I discovered she was in her 40s, single, and had just moved back into her childhood home. At the end of the interview, I thought she would have asked me to stay for dinner if not for Covid.  We were probably on complete opposite sides politically, but we had connected – and all while filling out Census forms!

Then there have been times when I realized I was enumerating an actual celebrity. Once I spoke to a famous movie director/producer and did not let on that I knew who he was. It was an experience I will treasure and it never would have happened had I not been wearing my U.S Census badge!

I have also encountered those who did not take kindly to a stranger approaching their home, regardless of the clearly visible credentials. Once a hostile property owner appeared out of nowhere at a multi unit complex, telling me I was soliciting and that he was going to call the police. I calmly told him I was with the U.S Census Bureau, doing my job, and to please go ahead and call them. I stood my ground. I then heard him mutter under his breath, “f ing bitch” followed by a louder pronouncement that I had three minutes to leave the property. (I took my sweet time!)

As a 2020 Census Taker, I never know what to expect when I get into my car. But that’s the joy of it!  Everyone has a story and the hours fly by. Before I know it, I have gone through 25-30 cases and completed my required interviews. I have driven past corn fields and have heard cases that would break your heart. But I have also witnessed our nation’s diversity and resiliency, as well as our need to connect, and yes, even unite.

This is my small part in being an American and, whatever good comes from getting this Census right, I know I have contributed.

Ode to Olivia

Last week the world became a little less colorful as my first cousin, Olivia, slipped away and entered a permanent place in heaven.

She was not supposed to die at her age, not quite 64, oh so young by today’s standards. She was unwell, and dealt with the side effects from chemotherapy for many years as she battled cancer. She had neuropathy, heart issues, depression, anxiety, and a host of other ailments, in addition to just pain and discomfort. She suffered from conditions more common in later years.

I reconnected with Olivia about ten years ago through the effort of her step sister, my cousin, Fran Lisa. She very thoughtfully initiated a reunion, which brought Olivia and me back together, women now well past middle aged. I had had a hiatus of 20 years where we hadn’t communicated. No reason, just the usual drifting of family, particularly when one is an East coaster and one a West coaster. I owe a debt of gratitude to Fran Lisa for this special rekindling.

Olivia had lived quite a life as a true love child, leaving home at 18 never to return again. She followed her heart and her passion for music and art. She wrote poems and designed greeting cards expressing a oneness with nature. She even had praying mantises as pets, in addition to dogs and cats.

She was a real groupie, following Bob Dylan around the country, writing to him, composing poetry, and painting him. She once waited for him in front of the men’s room so she could personally hand him a piece of her art. He told her to stick to her poetry!

Olivia was also a weed distributor way before Mary Louise Parker ever smelled pot! Based out of tony Marin County, she had a client list of writers and Hollywood folk (maybe B or C list, but nevertheless!!) who counted on her for her quality product. She knew everything there was to know about cannibis before I ever smoked a joint.

I was a goody two shoes who always did what was expected. As little girls, she brought the mischief out in me. I looked upon Olivia as a sister since we were very close in age. We shared secrets. She complained to me about her family, asked for advice, bounced ideas off me. It was a special bond.

Olivia wore a hibiscus in her hair, bright stenciled designs like butterflies on her red polished nails, and had Sharon Osbourne hair. You couldn’t miss her if you tried! She leaves two grown daughters, a grand child, and a husband who loved her for the unique character she was. They were partners for 20 years before marrying only seven years ago. Better late than never.

So, Olivia, as you are laid to rest today, Sunday, the day that would have been your birthday, know that you left your mark. You touched people’s lives, made many people smile. You, who lost your mother at the tender age of two, will be reunited with her, alongside your dad, and grand parents.

May Bob Dylan be singing Blowin’ In The Wind to you as a serenade and flowers come to life everywhere.

Rest in peace.

Love forever from Cousin Joy.


-My cousin. is the first close family member I have lost and it hit me as a little too close to home. I am fortunate to have not lost any dear friends to disease or accidents. I know that this will be the first of many more to come as I age and those around me as well.

-We need to reach out to family and friends that we may have disconnected from.