In November I will be 90. This is a busy time for me.
This summer and fall have been a time of funerals. Eight in the past four months. They all follow the same pattern, An M.C., religious or not, calls speakers to the podium -- spouse, children, grandchildren, a few friends. I check the crowd, speculate on how mine will compare.
The grandchildren, so integral to my late friends lives, are largely unknown to me. I ponder on how little we know of each other, on how we touch but tangentially, two slivers connecting. The notice in the paper tells us that family was uppermost. Of course. True of me too.
Behind my back, the Henry Street Settlement, GrowNYC and United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) have conspired to create a community garden named after me. It will be on the lower east side, three blocks from the first completed garden in the plant-a-lot program i helped start thirty nine years ago. Now there are over eighty. There will be a dedication ceremony. Nice, right?
Woody Allen was correct about just showing up. Adding the three organizations together, I have been showing up for 112 years.
Some people like to move around. I like to stay put. A corollary is that I like to create traditions and then hew to them. One such is dinner at Peter Luger's. This year there will be 17 of us, the most ever.
My acting class has started its fall term. My scene is two peddlers on the lower east side, a play by Murray Schisgal. It is very funny and a joy to work on.
A big event that plays to my scope and against my timidity will be my 90th birthday party. Family and many friends from the various roads I've travelled. Part of me says how great to gather them in one room. Part of me says, Richard, are you crazy? Why in God's name are you doing this?
Of course there is the election. I look forward to voting and watching the returns. If Hillary doesn't win I will be upset. Meanwhile, she is pissing me off. I can't stand the way she beams with delight despite the fact that she is despised by half the country. And that, with the emails and the shenanigans of the Clinton Foundation, she has given them good reason. How could this smart lady have played so fast and loose on the path to the presidency? Her victory, if such is the outcome, should be an unmitigated delight to a liberal Democrat like me.
Instead, it would be tainted.
That's the big picture. The little picture is me, getting littler by the month. Looking older, acting older. People have recently been giving me unneeded help getting on escalators. Photographs? I look like Rip Van Winkle 50 years after he woke up. As to walking, in a race with a tortoise, I'd bet on the guy with the shell.
On November 17 and November 20 PBS will air a film on settlement houses. It is part of their Treasures of New York series. There will be coverage of Henry Street, Lillian Wald and little old me. I can't wait.
In this busy season I consider every day a gift from the God I don't believe in.
Until the next blog, love to all.