Sunday, June 27, 2010


Have you asked yourself – what would you’d be doing if you had the chance to celebrate your 80th birthday?

Well, if you happen to be Rita Gerona-Adkins, you’d be partying – taking on dares, talking for nearly four straight hours (you’d have to be there to see how she does it), enjoying Bing and Bill Branigin’s sumptuous feast, annoying her friends, laughing her heart out, and throwing her audience in stitches as well.

Growing old is mandatory, but it takes a certain talent doing it well.

We’ve always looked at aging with much trepidation.

The body inevitably succumbs to biology and physics, and the law of averages, Murphy’s law and about a dozen other “laws” that all boil down to a nagging suspicion that after so many good years behind us, life is bound to catch up.

“Old age,” Trotsky once said, “is the most unexpected of all things that happen to a man.”

It’s good to see Rita. She’s evidence life still swings at 80.

She tells friends she actually has two birthdays (incidentally, that’s a trait only one other woman has – Queen Elizabeth II).

Agatha Christie observed that “happy people are failures because they are on such good terms with themselves they don’t give a damn.”

Rita is unapologetically and unabashedly enjoying life.

She lives alone, something that often worries her friends. Age is just a number, she points out, a state of mind.

She still hunts down stories in the heat of summer as well as the cold of winter; she still haunts her favorite bookstore; and savors the tastes of life (a proper woman, Rita proclaimed in one of her soliloquies, moans only for good food and good sex).

Perhaps the elixir of youth is simply the freedom to make the choices we want in our life.

So here’s to the next 80, Rita!

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