Over the weekend, I turned seventy.

As I pondered the beginning of my eighth decade, Paul Simon’s lyric “How terribly strange to be seventy” played in my head. It’s not the first time his songs from the 60s have colored my memories of adolescence. Or that I’ve thought about aging.

The lyric is from Simon & Garfunkel’s song “Old Friends,” recorded for their Bookends album released in 1968, and dovetailing with the title song. Simon was in his mid-20s; I was a junior in high school. His career had taken off; I didn’t have a clue what was ahead for me. Perhaps neither of us knew how unpredictable and precarious life would or could be.

I wonder what Paul Simon thinks about “Old Friends” now that he’s on the cusp of his ninth decade.

Like bookends

When Keith and I met in person for the first time, we enjoyed a sumptuous meal of oysters, salad, and grilled salmon. We talked about our families, missions and values, finances and health—spiritual, intellectual, physical—and discovered a common resilience. At the age of two, Keith had contracted polio, which compromised his right leg as opposed to my clubfooted left. He was a left-handed to my right. Walking side-by-side with our good legs and dominant hands to the outside, we looked like bookends.

On Saturday night, Keith took me to dinner at the farm-to-table restaurant Zynodoa on E Beverley Street in Staunton. We enjoyed a sumptuous meal of chicken pate, New York strip steak with whipped potatoes, green beans, and sautéed mushrooms, and a chilled blueberry confection for dessert. In this picture, sitting side-by-side with our good legs and hands to the outside, we look like bookends.

Because for one another, we are.

Preserve your memories

I received many good wishes from friends and family over the weekend. My children sent me these flowers. On Saturday, we Skyped and texted. My daughter sent a video of our granddaughter. 

Memories.

“They’re all that’s left you.” In earthly terms, Paul Simon had that about right. 

Can you imagine us years from today?

Later this week, a group of us same-year friends, fellow 1951-ners, will gather for lunch at Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton. I don’t think any of us could have imagined ourselves here, all these years later. But we probably could have predicted that there’d be no park-bench sitting for us. No newspapers blowing around our round toes. No waiting for sunsets. No dust settling on our shoulders. No silently sharing fears—we laugh a lot and share our faith.

Except in 1968, I never would have imagined the faith part. But here I am, praising God for the beauty of His creation, and upon each sunrise saying, “Thank you, Lord. What is Your will for me today?”

It’s not so terribly strange to be seventy. I lived all of those years. And look who I am today. 

16 Comments

  1. Gary Fultz

    Well you guys are making 70 look good.

    Reply
    • Carole Duff

      Ah, thank you, Gary!

      Reply
  2. Sarah Myers

    Lovely! Thanks so much for the memories.

    Reply
    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, my friend!

      Reply
  3. Sharon Grace

    Beautifully written, Carole. You quoted from one of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song. You and Keith are perfect together-just like bookends!

    Reply
    • Carole Duff

      Ah, dear Sharon, how kind of you! -C.D.

      Reply
  4. barefootlilylady

    My hubby is a 1951-er who makes 70 look less intimidating too. It sounds like your birthday was well-celebrated. Let me add my best wishes too. I love your book-end description of how the Lord made you and Keith each perfectly suited for one another.

    Reply
    • Carole Duff

      Hi Cindie – SO good to hear from you! Thank you for your kind wishes, and congratulations to you and your 1951 husband! We are blessed.

      Reply
  5. vonettayoung

    A delightful post! Happy birthday, Carole!

    Reply
    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, thank you, Vonetta! -C.D.

      Reply
  6. Beverly Hudson

    Great picture of contentment and joy. 70 myself and five years a widow, finding my way on a new journey indeed. If you would be so kind, would you share the books you shared from Richard Rohr in today’s Perennial Glen posting? Falling upward I have. Thanks Carole. Blessings to you on your journey together. Looking forward to the book you are working on.
    Beverly in Texas

    Reply
    • Carole Duff

      Hello Beverly –

      I’m sad to hear of your loss but delighted you are finding your way. Other than Falling Upward, my quotes from Richard Rohr in today’s Perennial Gen post are from his daily reflections, which I’ve been following for years – highly recommend, a good way to start the day. Here is the link to the September 14, 2020 reflection, posted on the Center for Action and Contemplation site: https://cac.org/god-uses-everything-2020-09-14/. Hope this helps.

      Thank you for reading my posts. Praying to find a publisher for my faith memoir, a journey in itself.

      I wish you God’s Peace.

      -C.D.

      Reply
  7. bigskybuckeye

    Carole, you and Keith certainly define the blessed meaning of bookends. God has indeed brought both of you His love and happiness. God’s peace.

    Reply
    • Carole Duff

      Yes, we are blessed, and thank God every single day for bringing us together, for the love that we share, and for our family, friends, and neighbors… all of them, including you! -C.D.

      Reply
      • bigskybuckeye

        Your story is a precious one. I appreciate your thoughtful words.

        Reply
        • Carole Duff

          Ah, thank you, Richard. -C.D.

          Reply

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