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August 11, 2022


“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

I know exactly the time and date and where it was that I realized I was aging.  

It was on my 50th birthday. I sitting at my dressing table when I discovered my first grey hair on my head. I sat for a long while, almost without breathing. That was just the beginning.

There were the birthdays after when I discovered my hands and arms were no longer smooth and wrinkle-free, and my derriere needed some support from what JC Penny’s called ‘comfort support’ pantyhose. I refused to wear a girdle.

As I write this, I realize you fellows are shaking your heads and smirking, but I do remember that at the same time my Hubby Norm asked me if he should add a ‘tad of color’ to his greying mustache, and every once in a while I noticed him looking more closely in the mirror at the hair on his head, something I had gone through years prior.

Years have passed since I first discovered that grey hair, and while I was taking out the ingredients for baked short ribs for tonight’s dinner, I thought about the ways I had always imagined my sweet Hubby and I were going to grow old together. I imagined I would have lovely soft white hair, styled into a stylish bun at the nape of my pearl-adorned neck and I would drape my somewhat—by then—plumpish body in lace and silks, and Norm’s hair around the edge would continue graying, and he would simply grow even more handsome than he already was.

And then came that dreadful day, when there was simply no more imagining, no more gentle touching nor hugs.

Three years have passed since that time, a time I spent grieving that we would no longer grow old together, thinking now that I was alone, I had no worth. I shunned friends whenever I could, believing now that I was alone, socially I would be what they call ‘a fifth wheel.’

And then something happened: I realized that Norm and I had grown old together, we had spent 43 precious years together, and we had attained that period in our lives, called Senior Citizens.

Thinking on this realization, I wondered how many other aging men and women had and were, going through what I had just come out of; lonely for our mate and, in many cases, lonely for friendships and things to do.

I began doing more volunteer work, and then when Covid-19 came about, I knew I had to keep busy and that is when I began doing what I loved best: cooking for people who were, for one reason or another, unable to cook for themselves. I began giving no-charge cooking classes to my neighbors, neighbors that I had never met before and by the end of each day, I was so tired, that I would drop into bed and sleep the night away.

One afternoon a few months ago my friend Marcie called. During the course of our conversation, she talked about having cooked for the Senior Center in Scotts Valley, something she enjoyed doing, but had to give up due to an illness. And then we talked about how much more help those centers could use, and suddenly a light went on in my brain. I went from thinking that ‘I believe’ I can help to ‘I will help.’

I have met with the Director of the Senior Center in Scotts Valley, and we have put our heads together with how to provide so much more than card games, bingo and movies, etc.

I have received over one hundred emails from older adults telling me of their needs, which range from in-home visits, emotional support from having lost their loved one, minor home repairs from light switches, leaking faucets, smoke alarm batteries replacements or a support railing installed. All small tasks, but not big enough for a business to take on.

I imagine a separate widow and widowers support group where they can come together and talk about their grief and of their problems while trying to move forward.

I imagine from this support group, friendships might be formed and afternoons might be spent going out to a lunch or an early dinner together or a community event.

I believe I can bring this about, however, not alone. I believe in those neighbors who have said they are so willing to help. I believe there are so many others willing to help in this endeavor as I go ahead. And I believe there are so many other Senior Citizens who would like to be part of this venture as we move forward.

This afternoon as I was putting the Short Ribs in the oven, I remembered Perry Como singing ‘I believe that somewhere in the darkest night, a candle glows.’

I believe!

Short Ribs

I try to pick the leanest and I rub them with a mixture of:

  • 1 Tbsp. mashed garlic cloves 
  • 1 tsp. of vegetable oil 
  • 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning.  
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

In an ovenproof pan, braise short ribs over medium heat until lightly browned.

In a 350 degree oven, roast for 30 minutes then turn down heat to 325 degrees. Add ¼ cup of water to pan, and roast for an additional hour or until meat is falling off the bones. Remove ribs from pan.

Cut two carrots, one large potato and one stalk of celery into 2-inch pieces. Then add small boiling onions left whole.

Add ½ cup water and roast 45 minutes at 325 degrees or until fork tender.

Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

Colly Gruczelak
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected]



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