One of our family left us. No one died. The comedy TV series Grace and Frankie (Netflix) aged out. I feel the loss.
Seven seasons involved Carolyn and me with two elder women thrown together reminiscent of The Odd Couple. The straightlaced WASP Grace Hanson (Jane Fonda) and ex-hippie Frankie Bergstein (Lili Tomlin) were forced to live together in the (stunning; it’s TV) San Diego beach house they co-owned. Their husbands, Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston), sought divorces to become a gay couple.
The show got off to a great start. A few seasons in, it became uneven. We kept watching. TV shows rarely deal with people 70 and older.
Spoiler alert: The final season tied up many loose ends but offered bittersweet notes. Grace’s (reluctant) second marriage ended. Frankie’s arthritis kept her from painting. Robert suffered the onset of dementia so Sol, who went through prostate cancer, faced an enormous challenge.
Grace and Frankie coincided with my own aging (I’m 77). I’ve had prostate cancer. I appear to be cured, but will it pop up again? I can’t worry. Also, I have a touch of arthritis in my hands. Fortunately, it’s not nearly enough to keep me from two-fingering the keyboard (my usual technique). Maybe writing keeps it from worsening.
Otherwise, I’m in good health. Still, my strength and stamina have diminished. I also have even less patience for tasks or situations with which I don’t care to be involved. I’ve always lived a plain life. I’m simplifying.
We change. That’s inevitable. The world changes, too. Also inevitable. And annoying. Not that I believe in “the good old days.” I have much to be grateful for, but I’m skeptical that today’s world is worse than the one of my childhood in the ’50s: School drills for taking cover from Soviet atomic bombs. “Colored only” water fountains down South. Hotels everywhere restricting Jews and Blacks from occupancy. Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red baiting and the Hollywood blacklist.
Then, at least, newspapers still thrived. In New York, my family’s apartment overflowed with The Times, Herald-Tribune, News, Mirror, Post, Journal-American, and World Telegram & Sun.
In San Francisco, I’ve long started breakfast with the Chronicle’s Sporting Green. (The newsprint has been dyed green for eons). The “Green” has become a ghost of its former self. The printed Chron appears to stand at the edge of the abyss.
The digital world has eviscerated or eliminated countless newspapers. People get sports and other news on their devices. Even I read the New York Times and Jerusalem Post online.
The Chronicle evidently goes to bed earlier, so the Sporting Green no longer offers next-morning coverage of games played in the West. Sunday’s revised and skimpy WEEKEND Sporting Green provides no results at all, only lame features.
I’ve said goodbye to lots of people and places (try finding pancakes and eggs in my neighborhood) but still get out of bed each morning. My biorhythm altered, I quote the late TV talk-show great Johnny Carson, “I am not a joyful riser.” But I’m adapting as best I can.
So adios, old friends. Fortunately, Carolyn and I have continuing and new shows to watch. They include the final seasons of Ozark and Better Call Saul. I’ll mourn their passing as I do Grace and Frankie’s. I’ll move on.
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