The sobering thing for me about turning 76 is that I’m getting closer than ever to 80. Eighty! My head tells me I’m 29, my body says 99 on some days, and the me that’s hanging around between these two ages is now on the way to 80.

The most joyful thing about turning 76 is that the song from The Music Man, Seventy-Six Trombones, comes to mind whenever I say the number. I never saw the musical, but a professor was trying to inspire a town that they could have a large band. The lyrics and marching band do inspire! Enjoy here. I have a hunch the tune may linger in my head as I march through this year.

The least joyful thing about turning 76 is thinking about what inevitably will change for the worst. Phone calls, emails, and the news every day signal those changes. Did you hear…?

I try not to ponder negatives; I have much for which to be thankful: a warm home in this arctic Midwest winter, plenty of food, friends and family who care, the ability to walk, and the ability to appreciate all my senses…I can read my favorite books, listen to classical (or country!) music, enjoy chocolate chip cookies, identify aromas coming from the oven, and differentiate a nickel from a quarter when placed in my hands…all things I’ve taken for granted in the past, but now not so much.

Mostly, I’m thankful for new friends. You may recall that before we moved to Sioux Falls from Chicago a year and a half ago, my granddaughter, then 6, when I told her we were moving to live near her, asked, “But what about your friends?” I thought that question was perceptive at her young age. I’d told her that leaving my friends in Chicago would be the hardest part of our move.

Well, last night, I was babysitting this now 8-year-old, and she asked, while we were concentrating on a 200-piece puzzle, “Do you have friends now, Grandma?” I was taken aback, so I asked if she remembered our talk from before. She said yes because “It’s important to have friends.” Her 6-year-old brother chimed in, “It’s hard to make friends. Yes, it is.”

In my answer, I didn’t launch into what I did to make some friends, but I know she would understand that you have to work at it. People do not show up at your door and ask you to be their friend. Especially not in a small city where many people are related and/or have friends from childhood.

mom and daughter

But now between OLLI classes, church contacts, and neighbors, plus, of course, our daughter and family, I have met lots of people and both my husband and I are feeling more and more like Sioux Falls is home. So, on turning 76 (trombones...), I can say I’m grateful to be here. And trust that God will continue to, in the words of a favorite song, lead me, guide me, along the way on this road toward 80.