Shirley’s Post–All 60 years of me.

More than once, I have been accused of being an optimist.  I suppose I am.  After all, the alternative isn’t so pleasant and, as those of you who have read my book know, as a child of Holocaust survivors I have often felt that I am being pushed against a brick wall, by a solid and insurmountable block of fears–so do I really need to add the weight of aging to the scenario?  So in my mind I choose to remain 30, with a spirit that eagerly awaits all that is yet to come.  Yes, my body is aging, and while I don’t ignore each slight frailty that emerges almost daily, and fight the good fight by trying to eat healthy and exercising, nor do I dwell on these problems.  Despite the occasional and frustrating bouts of forgetfulness (who was the one who played Shirley on the sitcom Laverne and Shirley???), the dependence on my one-dollar eyeglasses whenever I order from the menu at the diner, and the reliance on my son, Brad, whenever I need to program a phone or transfer photos to a disk, I have no desire to turn back time.  No, I embrace the benefits of age as well as its foibles.  And yes, even the losses I have endured.  When I turned 30, my father had a stroke, and I already had my first child.  It was a pivotal year, foreshadowing the sorrows and the joys that make up my life, all our lives, really. On August 23 of this year, I turned 60, and I have no greater intuition of what lies ahead than I did then.  But I will tell you this, I am more protective of what I have today and certainly more grateful for it.  At 60, I have the family I once yearned for, a teaching career which fulfills me each day I walk into the classroom, a strong circle of friends, the poetry, the books I always dreamed of writing.  At 60, I can also sit back and bathe in the sunlight of the accomplishments of my children, return to hand holding with my husband, speak and know that others will listen.  At 60, I still have classes I want to take, rooms to decorate, grandbabies to nurture, mountains and castles and oceans to see, books to write, to publish, a voice to give to the world.  At 60, I am twice 30, but I am also only half of the 120 years of life each parent of a Jewish child prays for.  At 60, I’m not done yet.

Do you have any thoughts on aging?  Please share them with me!  Until next time–

Shirley (60 and counting)


About shirleywachtel

Shirley Russak Wachtel is the author of The Story of Blima—A Holocaust Survivor (publ.2005), a novel which recounts the early years of her mother, Betty Weisstuch Russak. The novel s listed as a recommended novel by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. Wachtel is the author of several children's books, including a series of interactive mysteries, Charlie Wonder, Chef-Detective (2005), which includes several recipes; Brad Sureshot, Coach-Detective (2007) which details basketball skills; and Howie Rocket, World-Traveler-Detective (2009) which has handy foreign language phrases. In The Mellow Light (2009) is her first book of poetry. She is a professor of English at Middlesex County College in New Jersey. In addition, Wachtel is the co-author of Spotlight on Reading (2011), a textbook for college-level students. A mother of three sons, she resides with her husband, Arthur, in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Initially written as a doctoral dissertation for her Doctor of Letters Degree from Drew University, My Mother's Shoes , says Wachtel, is not just the novel of her life, it is the novel of her heart.
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