The Third Age: It’s a Good Day

October 17, 2023

I once had a neighbor, a tiny, frail woman in her mid-90s. I’ll call her Helen. Helen’s meals were “on wheels,” and so I sometimes brought her a container of a homemade dish I thought she might enjoy. If I brought something that didn’t appeal to her, she wouldn’t hesitate to tell me and suggest what she might like more. During our last conversation, Helen confided that every night she made herself a martini. I had never had a martini, let alone made one, and so I suggested that some evening I come over and have one with her. It never happened. Soon after, Helen was transported to a nursing home, leaving behind her cat, her collection of memorabilia, her cocktail shaker, and her martinis. I worried that she would not survive without them, especially the martinis.

When, at the age of ninety-five, the Queen Mother was advised that she should skip her daily martini, I immediately thought of Helen. Her martini had been the highlight of her day, as I’m sure it had been Queen Elizabeth’s. Didn’t the monarch deserve her little pleasure? I’d say she did. These two ladies were the same age. Maybe we should all have a martini or some other preferred libation to celebrate making it through another twenty-four hours, whether we rule an empire or just our own little corner of the world. It seemed to have worked for them. The end of a good day.

Crocheting was her winter activity, and we were closing in on that dark and dreary season. 

As we age, life often gets simpler for us, and our routines bring stability and peace. Each morning when I awake, I bring my coffee to my laptop and play a game of Scrabble with a stranger. Most are younger. I can tell because many players use the year of their birth in their screen name. Thunderbird55, Punkrocker70. Pogo matches players with others of similar ability, and so, I win some, I lose some. There is a saying among older people that if they open the paper and read the obits, and their name isn’t there, it’s a good day. When I win at Scrabble, I know the wheels of my mind are still turning. It’s a good day. 

She didn’t know it came in colors.

Another neighbor, Rose, made beautiful crocheted items, but she confided that her daughter wasn’t bringing her crochet thread anymore. Crocheting was her winter activity, and we were closing in on that dark and dreary season. 

I said, “Come across the hall to my apartment. We can fix that.” I have been using computers since before there was a World Wide Web, and times like this make me grateful that my tech skills are still pretty sharp.

Rose had never used a computer, and she was overwhelmed by the selection of crochet thread available online. She didn’t know it came in colors. She had only ever used the off-white or ecru thread. I showed her how to use the mouse, scroll over the choices, and pop things into the “cart.” She worried about paying, but I said it wouldn’t appear on my credit card for a month, and she didn’t have to pay it back right away. When that Amazon package full of thread came, Rose had a really good day.

When I saw how happy Rose was, I let it be known that if anyone else wanted to buy something on Amazon, we could use my account and they could reimburse me later. I even gave a little demonstration showing some of the ladies how it would work. Because it was pre-holiday, the purchases came fast. I’m sure the USPS and other delivery drivers were perplexed by my number of “purchases.”

On Christmas morning I heard a light tapping on my door. Rose stood in the hallway with several colorful newly crocheted doilies draped over the side of her walker and a half-dead African Violet in her hand. She was about to throw the plant into her trash pail, she said, but wondered if I might like to try to save it. And she handed it and the doilies to me.

I have propagated hundreds of baby plants, sold a bunch, and given a few away. In their new homes, they continue to bring joy to their new caretakers. And when a customer emails me that their violet is doing well and blooming again, it’s a good day.

Sheila Velazquez

Sheila Velazquez is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in more than 100 print newspapers and magazines, including Grit, New Woman, the Hartford Courant, the New Haven Register, the San Antonio Express-News and Bay Area Parent. Her awards include two from the Society of Professional Journalists for a syndicated column. Sheila has contributed to online websites, including and She served as contributing editor of Organic Producer magazine and wrote biographical material for reference collections that include “Contemporary Authors,” the “Encyclopedia of International Biography” and “Notable Sports Figures.” Feel free to send her an e-mail.

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