May 26, 2024
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May 26, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A beautiful blue sky. Breezes wafting from across the water. Old friends laughing and reminiscing as we enjoyed lunch at the lakeside café. What could be better than that?

The four of us had been friends and neighbors since our early days in our New Jersey town; sharing playgroups and carpools, Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim together, watching our children grow up and marry. We had once sat together in a circle, resting on our Adirondack chairs in the same bungalow colony, sipping coffee and eating Danish from the bakery truck. We had become as close as sisters as we shared in life’s milestones and transitions, happy and sad.

Over the past few years, feeling nostalgic, we had started a new tradition. For a few days each July, no matter how hectic our lives, how busy our schedules, we made sure to set aside a few days each summer just for the “girls,” as we liked to think of ourselves. We sent our husbands home on Sunday night just like we used to all those summers ago, and we got together in my summer home to  revisit old times and old haunts, and to enjoy each other’s company. My house was certainly much bigger than our bungalows had been, and we were now empty nesters and grandmothers, yet when we joined each other under the beautiful Catskills sky we still felt and acted like the youngsters we had once been.

Until that afternoon, that is. There we were, having lunch at the crowded lakeside café when we struck up a conversation with the attractive young women sitting at an adjacent table. We asked them what they were ordering and as we discussed the various menu options, I remember thinking, what lovely young women. They remind me so much of how we used to be.

Since we were enjoying our lunch and giggling over some funny story about one of our grandchildren, we didn’t really notice when the young women got up to leave. Then suddenly, there they were, hovering over our table and beaming down at us. The one with the long blond shaitel and perfect makeup spoke first.

We just want to say how impressed my friends and I are with all of you.”

We looked up, not knowing what was going to come next. What had we done that was so impressive?

She continued on, in her sweet, innocent voice.

“It’s just so wonderful to see people of your age, looking so put together.”

Then her friend with the short hair took over, “And to see older people going out and having lunch with friends and having so much fun, it’s just sooo nice.”

I started to ask, “Just how old do you think we are, honey?” But my friend Carol poked me as she thanked them for their good wishes.  They walked away secure in their knowledge that they had made our day.

People of your age. Older people having fun. So put together. Were they impressed because we were able to feed ourselves? Walk to our chairs unaided? Weren’t wearing aprons? What was wrong with those girls? Did we look like their mothers? Their grandmothers? Their great-grandmothers? Weren’t we the same people we had always been? I couldn’t stop talking and thinking about their comments all day long.

It’s taken me a few days of reflection to come to a different conclusion. B”H my friends and I are women of a certain age, there’s no denying that, but also women who have lived many years and have accomplished a great deal during those years. We have raised families and have wonderful marriages. We have had successful careers and we work for chesed organizations and our communities. We still take classes and read and discuss books. We care about how we look.  All of us have faced illness and loss with courage and faith. So, I guess those young women were not so thoughtless, after all. They may not have been tactful, but they reminded me to appreciate how wonderful it indeed is that I can visit with my “old” friends, and to continue to laugh and enjoy the good times in life together, hopefully for a long time to come.

Estelle Glass is a retired educator and Teaneck resident,  who is now happily writing her own essays.

By Estelle Glass

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