Growing Old Gracefully

We left South Dakota in the late forties after my father had spent months being bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis. A doctor in Milbank told him that he needed to live in a high, dry climate. That’s how we ended up in Bisbee, Arizona. It was definitely high and dry. The changed climate baked the arthritis right out of his system, although I suspect that working as and underground miner in a copper mine also helped.

The arthritis went away, but another problem soon reared its ugly head—allergies. A neighbor, Mrs. Whitaker, I believe, told my mother that local honey would help, and off she went to the nearest bee-keeper and came home with a vat of mesquite honey. From then on there was always a honey-pot with a spoon in it on the breakfast table. In the mornings as our dad spooned honey onto his toast or in the evenings when he treated himself to a peanut butter and honey sandwich as a bed time snack, he liked to tell us that honey was helping him grow old gracefully.

And he did, just exactly that—he and my mother both. They did a lot of traveling together and enjoyed every minute of it. My father was nearsighted, and so were all his kids. In his eighties he underwent cataract surgery and emerged with 20/20 vision. My mother was not thrilled. She had known him with glasses for the first sixty years they were married, and she didn’t care for his new glasses-free look. I think part of her reaction had to do with envy. Surgery had was able to correct his vision problem, but Evie’s issues with macular degeneration were not fixable.

They were still living in Bisbee at the time. My mother couldn’t drive for obvious reasons, so my father was at the wheel. He, however, had issues with short term memory loss. He could see to drive, but he couldn’t always remember where he was going or even how to get back home. So for years they navigated around Bisbee with him doing the driving and with her telling him where to turn. Believe me, for the sixty-eight years they were married, Norm and Evie were a matched pair.

So today I turned 77. We had pancakes for breakfast. For dinner we went to our favorite restaurant, Angelo’s. It was wonderful to be in a busy, noisy restaurant once again. What did I do in between? I walked my 10,000 steps, I went to the hearing aid place and had my volume turned up, and then I went to have the pre-op appointment for my upcoming cataract surgery which will be happening over the course of the next two weeks. Oh, and then, I stopped by the jewelry store and picked up the ring Bill had ordered for my birthday.

For those of you who have followed my “step journey,” I started six years ago when I weighed 265 pounds and had to rest after every 750 steps. Today I did 8000 in one fell swoop. Back then, I also weighed 265 pounds and wore size 26 pants. Walking helped me shed 65 pounds and my pants size is now 16. My pedometer says that as of today I have a 403-day streak of walking a minimum of 10,000 steps. Today’s total is 12,826. I had hoped to hit the 14,000,000 mark before I sent out this report, but I ran out of days. At 13,948,264, I’m a few days short. I should have 14,000,000 in the bag by the middle of next week, but with a root canal tomorrow and the cataract surgeries coming, my steps may have to take a back seat.

And speaking of that root canal, I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m glad to have it. My father grew up in South Dakota where he had limited access to fresh vegetables and good nutrition. By the time he was forty, he had dentures. Because of the care Norm and Evie lavished on their kids—all of us but one—the oldest who spent those critical formative years in vegetable-free South Dakota, still have our original teeth. That wasn’t just luck—that was parenting complete with good nutrition and regular dental care.

I’m not fond of honey, so I’m not sure I’m aging as gracefully as my dad. It was wonderful today to have birthday greetings coming in from so many of you. Thank you. And if you think that photo of the ring was bragging, it wasn’t. Because Bill wouldn’t have been able to order it, and I wouldn’t be wearing it, if it weren’t for all my loyal readers and fans.

So yes, thank you very much, I’ve had a happy 77th birthday.

And even if I don’t answer every one, I really do appreciate all those cards and letters from, as Glen Campbell would say, people I don’t even know.

97 thoughts on “Growing Old Gracefully

  1. Love your books and always ‘listen’ to the Beau books. I too was raised in SD in the small town of Armour. We now live in CO
    Although my 2 sisters are still in SD. We did have our vegetables, so I grew up liking Brussel sprouts, beans, anything but peas. Still don’t like peas. I am a avid reader and keep the library in business. Keep writing. I love the ring!!

    • Vegetable free South Dakota. . .REALLY? That has not been my experience. Our growing season is shorter than the areas you now live, but would hardly describe us as vegetable free. Your remark seems disparaging, on the surface.

  2. Happy Birthday ?? ?
    Mine is October 1
    Ring is beautiful. Best wishes for a successful root canal.

  3. I want to join the many in wishing you Belated Happy Birthday! Another reason I find, why I love and enjoy you so very much! We are shared Scorpios,same as you, my 77th is next week! We are Blessed to enjoy our golden years! And many more!

  4. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JA! What a milestone at 77. So much of what you’ve written here mirrors parts of all our lives. I’m especially thankful, too, for my parents raising my brother and I with common sense—especially the vegetable part. ? And thankfully I let my 82 year old mom know before she left me. Good parenting today is in short supply.

    Best wishes to you and your hubby!

  5. Happy Birthday J.A….So happy for you and for all the positive changes coming your way. We are so fortunate to be able to do what we can to embrace aging and to do our best to maintain our optimum health. May you enjoy a wonderful new year and many more to come. Blessings to you.

  6. I had cataract surgery over 10years ago, and like many others, I was scared. No one I knew had had the surgery.
    Surgery was performed in a tiny hospital in a tiny town in Central Alberta, Canada.
    It was a short wait, a painless and interesting surgery (I was awake the entire time so knew what was going on) and I elected to stay at the hospital for my 4-hour recovery period before taking off the bandages.
    I was free to wander the hospital, pray in the chapel, wander the grounds, before I returned for my bandage removal. Then I drove myself home.
    For the second eye, the same procedure.
    I still wear glasses but I can see far better than before the surgeries.
    It is nothing to fear.
    I wish you all the best in your surgery.

  7. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ???! I hope it is a good day for you. I love your books and have all of the Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds series. I live in Camp Verde so can relate to the Ali Reynolds location. I enjoy your blogs and forward them to my daughter in law. Keep up the good work and God bless you! Suzanne Carlson

  8. Parts of your life resembles some of mine. Guess that is why I like you & your books so much. You are not just a writer but a wonderful, loving down-to-earth woman.
    “Have a Happy”

  9. Happy birthday to a very special are Such an great example to all of us on what people ” of a certain age” can do. Enjoy your birthday and improved health and the beautiful have worked hard for all of it. And thank you for all the years of pleasure reading.

  10. I do so enjoy your writing and I’m happy to have had a part in Bill’s gift to you for your 77th birthday. Best wishes on your birthday!

  11. Good Morning
    Every week you touch a part of my heart. Your step report urges me to keep up stepping, my average is not quite as good but working on it.

    I appreciate your enjoyment of life, todays and the yesterdays. I have a few days on you but your comments bring back moments from the past to enjoy.

    I also am a reader of your books and since I have been receiving your blog I like the connections I can see to your experiences.

    Waiting for the next book and blog

  12. Happy Birthday and many more so I can continue to read your books. The ring is lovely.

  13. Contract surgery was rather painless and easy for me. My problem was making sure after second eye was done that I put the correct drops and amount in the correct eye!!! A room canal is another story!!! Praying for you!!! Happy Birthday and many more to come!!!

  14. Happy Birthday.
    I have just finished reading all of the sixteen Ali Reynolds books. I started in late July and have really enjoyed the read. I think the last two books are the best. I now know exactly where to stab a person for a quick kill, if the occasion ever arises.
    Now that I have finished reading all of your books, when will your next one be released? I hope it will be a JP Beaumont book.
    Many thanks for many hours of pleasant reading.

  15. I’m so glad you had a happy and wonderful birthday. I’m trying to figure out if that was Tuesday, the 26th, because don’t you write the blog on Tuesdays? It arrives in my mailbox on Fridays. And that’s an awesome ring! I relate to the peanut butter and honey too, as it’s all I turn to on the rare occasions I have toast (as a person with Celiac, I seldom do bread). I also relate to the cataract surgery, as I had mine this past summer. Now it’s nice not to have to reach for glasses the minute I wake up, although I do have to have separate pairs for computer, writing anything, playing an instrument….it’s a good thing they’re only $1.25 at the Dollar Store, because I now have multiple pairs littering my house. I found it interesting that the lady in Central Alberta was allowed to drive herself home after her surgery–I was required to have a driver whose signature was demanded before I could be released!

    • It was October 27. I usually write the blog on Wednesday and it posts on Fridays. Occasionally I get the jump and write it on a Tuesday.

      • I had the date wrong. I don’t know why I thought your birthday was the 24th. I’ll get it right next year!

  16. Happy belated birthday! Your ring is beautiful! I love reading your posts every week, and of course your books – a Joanna one just made the extra long drive from Phoenix to LA more bearable.

  17. Happy and blessed Belated Birthday J. At 83 not only every year but every day is a blessing. I enjoy reading your books more than any author.
    Clive Cussler is my next favorite. ? Thanks for all your Blog messages too! My daughter lives part time in Mesa. I hope to get back to Bisbee for a visit again. Prayer for you upcoming surgery. I believe you will be happy with the results. I was! ?

  18. Let us know how the cataract surgery goes. I have one in my future. I’m waiting for spring when Covid hopefully isn’t so bad here and my driver will have time to take me. My eyes aren’t too bad.

  19. Happy Birthday! Cataract surgery has come a long, long way since I started nursing in the 70’s! In and out in the same day now. Yes, I’ve had it done too. Such a big help.

  20. Happy birthday my friend, we are so glad you came into our lives. Best wishes on your special day. We hope you have a memorable celebration day followed by a blessed safe and healthy year. Hugs and Love from Don & Jan Davidson.

  21. HAPPY BIRTHDAY my friend. The Lord has richly blessed you and your family! I still can’t believe the similarities we share. I’ve had the cataract surgery and this week, my dentist put in a temporary bridge in preparation for removal of the tooth to the right of my front teeth. We had gone out to dinner and I removed a piece of steak with dental floss that took out half of that tooth! No more steak for me and no more dental floss! I’m going to try the honey routine that your dad used. My arthritis keeps me in lots of pain. So, I’m doing some knitting. I’m going to be 82 in March. Doing pretty well, actually. Your rings are gorgeous!!!! Love to you both!

  22. VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, may God bless yo now and forever.

    P. S. I am right behind you on step goal, started four years ago after complicated back surgery. At 76 I am down to 165

  23. Best wishes for your birthday. I enjoy all your books and blog. Something to look forward to each week. From the mountains in beautiful western NC , may your day be filled with love, laughter, and memory making moments. Celebrate YoU!

  24. Happy Birthday. I’m an October birthday girl too and just turned 75. Haven’t had cataract surgery yet but did have a root canal yesterday. Easy peasy. Love your books, share them with my best friend and my niece.

  25. Happy Birthday! I am so glad you are doing well health wise. I had cataract surgery a few years ago, and while I did not emerge with 20/20 vision, it was certainly an improvement. The most interesting result was the much more brilliant colors! I’m glad you had a wonderful birthday and here’s to many more! And I love Angelo’s, too!

  26. Best wishes on your 77th birthday! I turn 77 in April, need to have Cataract surgery, am housebound, so walking is out of the question, so hubby does it for me?. I have a watchful internist who has encouraged me to decrease weight from 203 pounds to 172, not an easy task for a sugar addict, and I just had a tooth extraction!

    Your birthday ring is beautiful.- what a sweet and thoughtful husband you have. I’m sure you’re grateful for each and every day, and congratulations for your ongoing walking for health!

    Have a lovely birthday and a happy, fruitful, healthy year.
    Lyn Wessman

  27. Happy Birthday! I’m right behind you at soon-to-be 71. I do eat my honey because my dad who recently passed on at 95 was a beekeeper and always ate his honey in his tea.

  28. Happiest of BELATED Birthday wishes to you! Hope your medical situation allows you to get back to your 10K walks very soon.

    I am 85 and walk my little dog daily– rain, shine, wind, etc. Hope to keep it going far into the future.

  29. A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun.
    Enjoy the trip – of course, you aren’t one that needs that reminder because you appear to wring out every drop of joy in your days and then share it with us.
    Happy Birthday!

  30. Happy belated birthday to one of my absolute favorite authors…. look forward to your new books every year.. continue with your steps you are doing great have a great year look forward to the new book

  31. Happy 77th!

    I’ll be celebrating my 77th in about two weeks, and while my knees won’t let me walk that far anymore. I’m glad that you CAN!

  32. Wishing you the happiest 77th Birthday!!! Here’s to many more. Good Luck with the root canal, cataract surgeries and the ring is BEAUTIFUL
    Your friends from MN
    Karen & Berta ??????

  33. Happy Belated birthday to my favorite author!
    I love reading your Friday blog. I had a cataract removed from my left eye 5 years ago and it was so easy. Now I laugh and say I have LED vision in on eye and incandescent in the other. Colors are so clear and clean when seen through the left eye and yellowed in the right.
    I love your books, especially the Brady series. We spend 3 months in the winter in Tucson and love seeing all the areas you describe. I am a trapshooter and when I went to a shoot at the gun club in Bisbee I think I made the other people in the car with me jump when I excitedly announced I had found High Lonesome Rd.! (It’s just off to the left of the road I turned on that led to the gun club)
    Thank you for staying in touch with all your readers!

  34. My mother’s theory about tooth health was that fluoride in the water was key. She said that there was fluoride in the water when she was pregnant with all of us girls, but not when she was carrying my brother. (We moved regularly; each of the 4 of us was born in a different state.) His teeth were incredibly cavity-prone compared to his sisters. We all got regular dental care as children, and I have kept up the visits. My hygienist says I have the teeth of a teenager, for which I am very grateful. What I didn’t realize till I was an adult was that Mom made sure we got dental care despite her own incredible fear of dentists, probably a result of her British childhood experiences, and that she didn’t see a dentist in all those years she was taking us there. She wound up with a mouth full of extractions and root canals. I have to give her credit, though, for not passing along her fears.

  35. Hi Judy,
    We remember fondly your Mom and Dad and appreciate hearing about some of their lives and trials during the SD and early Bisbee days of their lives.
    A belated Happy Birthday and still enjoying your latest endeavors.
    Duane & Marlene

  36. Happy Birthday and what a beautiful ring. I Also have early memories of our family moving from Colorado to California when my dad joined the Navy at age 33 with a family to fight in WW II. He was on a naval ship sent to the Philippines and was gone for two years. My mom raised my sister and I alone, me a baby and my sis 8 yrs. old. Both parents have passed and I turn 79 in Feb. so I’m a bid ahead of you in age.
    Good luck on your root canal and cataract surgery. Root canals are quicker and more tolerable in my experience.

  37. I want to thank you for the short essays you post on this blog site. I also wanted to wish you a very happy birthday. Thank you for being you. As we go through life one of the best gifts we can give is to touch others lives, inspire them, encourage them, and give them hope. You do all those things. Thank you for being a gift.

    The ring is beautiful, your husband has wonderful taste. I hope it made your day.

  38. Happy Birthday. Wishing you many more healthy and happy years. Get on keeping on. You are right, motion is the lotion for the bones, and every step is to be counted. Reading the A list for the second time. Good horror thriller for Halloween, what evil men do to each other, yet good wins in the end, if only in the souls, eyes, hearts, and minds of the believers, helpers, healers, and lovers

  39. Happy 77th year! You’re off to a great start with your eyes and teeth all fixed up….and soon to hit 14 million steps. Be proud of your accomplishments, and enjoy your new, gorgeous ring!

  40. Happy Birthday, and blessings for many many more wonderful years. Thank you so much for sharing your talent and gift with us.

  41. Happy birthday and many more. I have had both cataract surgery and a root canal. Cataract surgery is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It was so fast and after 12 years I am still amazed at how clear things are and how bright colors are. As for the root canal, when it was over I asked the dentist if it was done because I didn’t feel anything!
    Hope both of yours go as well and again Happy Birthday!!

  42. Happy Birthday – a bit belatedly. Birthday months are a good approach I find. Beautiful ring, beautiful hand and manicure.


  43. I too am 77 and I think we’ve earned every bling that we receive! Happy Birthday and show off that ring every chance you get. Contrary to my name (Stuart) I am a fiesty 77 year old female who greatly enjoys your books.

  44. I always enjoy your blogs. Happy birthday! You are almost exactly 1 month older than I am; this year I turn 77 on Thanksgiving day. Congrats on your weight loss! I’m trying to motivate myself to lose 20 pounds and really need someone with a cattle prod behind me.
    Thanks to an earlier blog, I read your Walker series, which somehow I had missed completely. Though it’s not my favorite, I enjoyed it and always like learning about different Indian traditions and beliefs.
    Continued good health and blessings to you. Thank you for making my reading time so interesting.

    • Yes, the Walker Family books aren’t everyone’s cup of tea–a bit on the dark side–but they’re a part of my writing career of which I’m very proud.

  45. Happy Birthday, and many more to come! I look forward to many more wonderful books from you, and enjoy getting to know you through your posts. You are an incredible woman and you & Bill are both blessed to have found each other! The ring is gorgeous and the manicure very pretty. My husband will be turning 77 in a couple of weeks.

  46. Happy Birthday!! Your ring is beautiful & I did not think you were bragging. I am catching up on a few books I have not read. I just finished Judgement Call & loved it, next one will be Down Fall.
    Good luck with your root canal & eye surgery.

  47. Wishing you the happiest of birthdays and more to come. I’ve had the cataract surgery….. Pretty much pain free! So glad I had it done. You will see a difference. Good luck!

  48. Happy Birthday!

    I’ve had cataract surgery on both eyes, but chose not to be knocked out- just a valium each time. No problem and no needles! Good luck to you. My surgeries turned out wonderfully!

  49. Best wishes with your cataract surgery. I was disappointed that I did not get 20/20. I did get rid of my astigmatism. And my sight is good enough that I no longer have a vision restriction on my DL. I did get glasses for driving. I don’t really ne them to watch TV. So I don’t complain too much.

  50. Wishing you a Happy 77th Birthday! Your rings are gorgeous.

    I have read most of your books and I enjoy them immensely. Keep writing for your avid fans.

  51. A birthday party and I missed it, again. Happy Birthday! Best of luck on all your health tweaks you are having done. You dodged a bullet when you started your walking career. Who knows what tweaks you would need had you not done that. Yea!

  52. Happy Birthday! You’ve set a valuable example in so many ways. Thank you for sharing so much of your personal life.

  53. Hang in there. The cataract surgery is a piece of cake. I had mine done by Dr. Aviles at Cochise Eye and Laser a couple of years ago. I was frightened of it but should not have been. What a blesding to not have to wear glasses after 70 years! Root canal is a different … I need full sedation.

  54. Happy Birthday, Judith! I hope the coming year is blessed with lots of graceful aging. Hugs.

  55. Happy Birthday again, and what a beautiful ring! It sounds like you had a lovely birthday with Bill- As another comments suggested, I too believe in “Birthday
    Months-” So from Oct. 27th through Nov. 27th you have every right and even obligation to celebrate and indulge- Autumn is my favorite time of year, and I hope it is beautiful now out in Seattle after the Middle-Eastern- Desert Temperatures
    you had during the summer- God Bless you and Bill-

  56. A belated happy birthday to my favorite author! Best wishes for any more and success with your upcoming medical procedures. See you in Tucson in a few months at the Book Festival!

  57. Happy birthday!

    As with your lovely necklace, Bill has shown once more that he has good taste in jewelry.

    Praying for safe and successful surgery and dental work, and for a quick and easy recovery.

    From what I’ve seen and read, you are aging very gracefully! Keep doing what you’re doing. We, your adoring fans, look forward to reading your new stories for many more years.

  58. Happy Birthday, I love your Joanna Brady books . I hope there will be more Joanna Brady books ? I’m going to read your other books.
    But like said I love the Joanna Brady ones the best. Have a great Birthday.

  59. Happy belated birthday! I pray all goes well with your root canal and cataract surgeries. I just had my left eye done Tuesday and my right one will be Nov 9th. I will be so happy to be able to see to read again. I could read 3-4 books a week, but the last year I am only able to read for about 30 minutes at a time. I have your latest books in a stack to read and catch up on.
    As I am sure you know, after your eye surgery you can’t lean over for at least a week. I have never dropped so many things on the floor in my life! I have been pushing everything over to my chair, sitting down and then pick it up from there. I am glad you have Bill there to help if you have my same problem.
    Take care and prayers for your upcoming procedures.

    Dottie Dantzler

  60. Happy Birthday to a young 77 year old. It is not that far down the road from my 71 years.
    Thank you for all the enjoyment I get reading your books. Have read all the Brady and Reynolds ones and am in the middle of Beaumont. I get so excited at the end of them and yet don’t want them to end.
    Hope there are a lot more to come.
    Your talent is remarkable.

  61. Belated Happy BD wishes to a special woman & favorite author!
    Good luck w/all the good things you’re doing & having done–you’re a good role model! Blessings,

  62. I live in Sierra Vista and had heard of the honey remedy for allergies, but never tried it. Guess I should, and my son also. Beautiful ring. You deserve it! Happy Be-lated birthday!

  63. Congratulations on your birthday. I hope it was great. Also, on all your steps. I don’t get my 10,000 in in a day, but I will get about 8,000 in. Some days I get more than 10,000 in. it is work. Still loving your books. Thanks for this blog.

  64. Good morning! I started the 10,000 steps..and then the pedometer died. Since then I have done some walking (a little challenging with a walker) and other exercises. I know I will feel better when I do what you did..even 5,000 steps would be a stretch right now, but I want to get rid of 20 pounds that I gained during Covid…well that’s my excuse…Your books thrill me over and over again. When I sink into a book I haven’t read lately, I am right there with you. Incidentally, I love Ali.She is a very educated computer geek and has taught me a lot. Thank you for your posts!

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