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Emails to my Therapist

Beloved Spouse Turns Eighty-Two

Dear Nicholas,  Beloved husband Bob Dick just had a birthday and is now eighty-two and a day. Being seven years younger than he is keeps me thinking I’m pretty young. But the numbers are getting increasingly impressive for both of us.

Some years ago, when I was maybe forty or fifty, we were invited to a neighbor’s eightieth birthday party.


For some reason, at that age, I found the idea of an eightieth birthday party hilarious. Maybe it was the idea that it was something to celebrate. Or imagining such an ancient blowing out candles. Well, it no longer seems funny and it seems well worth celebrating.

When I turn eighty–my God, the number is shocking–I’ll consider celebration entirely appropriate. Fireworks and parade will be fine.

Who Lives Longest?

Actuarially speaking, Bob will likely die before I do, a thought that is of course painful to me.  Because we have had forty happy years together so far, Bob once predicted for the surviving spouse, “One of us is going to suffer horribly and I certainly hope it’s you.” The man has a sense of humor.

We’ve already had seven years that feel like a bonus, because in December of 2016 he came within a hair of dying. His aorta broke open at the worst possible spot. The luck of timing, a talented surgeon and–I am convinced–Bob’s own remarkable resilience brought him back to health.

Doctor, Doctor

There have been other medical adventures since. I recently saw a New Yorker cartoon in which a man is welcomed into his sixties “and more medical appointments than you will believe possible.” Or something approximately like that.

Aging isn’t always a turbulent river of doctor visits. Out of pure luck, I’ve dodged that so far, but this good fortune might not last forever. For both of us and a bunch of other folks, I’m immensely grateful for all the cures now available. And I’m counting on research to keep coming up with more good stuff.

Bob likes ecological wrapping paper–well-used and patched together.

When a beloved spouse turns eighty-something, it’s a big event. Yesterday Bob got lots of presents he liked, declared it “a hell of a birthday.”

I wish him many, many, countless more.










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  • February 5, 2024 at 2:23 pm Reply

    Peggy, please convey this 81-year-old’s belated Happy Birthday wishes to the psych therapist who helped me so very, very much some 30-odd years ago. I remain indebted, and lovingly thankful.

    And please forgive me for having dropped out from quite a few of your posts lately. When we were in southern France a few months ago, our rental car was broken into and all of our carry-on luggage (small enough for the thieves to extract through the smashed window) were taken. All of our prescription meds were in them, not to mention our iPads and noise-cancelling headphones. And much else. We are only now, finally, receiving checks from our homeowners insurance company.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2024 at 3:07 pm Reply

      So sorry about the theft, Morris. I would be devastated to lose all that, especially the computers. And the meds!

      I’ll convey the Happy Birthday to Bob. Thanks.

    • Bob
      February 6, 2024 at 4:38 am Reply

      Thanks for your birthday greeting Morris, Glad you made such good use of our contacts.And I’m So sorry about the break-in, & your losses were terrible. I hope you it was manageable & tnothing irreplaceable was lost. I’d hate someone violating my boundaries & stealin’ my valuable elertonics. Money can’t make it good, & I hope you get appropriate compensation. Warmly, bob

      • February 6, 2024 at 12:51 pm Reply

        My pleasure, Bob. My pleasure to experience a world you too still inhabit (alive, I mean, rather than in a casket or as ash). About the losses from the car-smash: right, money can’t make it good. A person might receive insurance money to buy a replacement for items, but the original items are gone and no longer in one’s life, little items that WERE in one’s life and a part of it. So…one lets it go, accepts it, deriving what good might remain, especially a promising topic to write about, as I am doing now. Writers need stuff to write about, right? (Right, Writer Peggy?) Our (your and my) “contacts” were more than contacts, Bob; they were serious provocations to look more deeply inward and to repair my faults, especially to improve my “cognitive behavior” (including abandoning what Zig Ziglar termed “stinking thinking”). HAPPY TUESDAY!

        • Peggy Payne
          February 6, 2024 at 6:16 pm Reply

          Right, Moristotle!

        • Bob
          February 9, 2024 at 3:15 am Reply

          Hey Morris, I remember you with fondness and pleasure, & I too am glad we still share being alive on the planet. Warm regards to you, and take good care of yourself, bob

    • March 13, 2024 at 1:59 am Reply

      What a terrible piece of bad luck Morris – if it’s possible, I hope the scoundrels who stole ya’all’s stuff get no pleasure from their crime, and are caught & punished by the justice system, however inlikely that may be. Perhaps you two can transform the meaning of this unpleasance into something neutral or positive. bob

  • Henry Scott
    February 5, 2024 at 3:36 pm Reply

    Peggy, what a wonderful acknowledgment of Bob’s 82nd birthday. This septuagenarian is 10 years away, and I hope to make it. Meanwhile, I am trying to make the most of every day I have left.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2024 at 4:11 pm Reply

      Gosh, you’re so young, Henry! I had no idea. Well, you obviously have lots of days left. I’m glad you’re making the most of them.

    • Ron Perkinson
      February 5, 2024 at 8:12 pm Reply

      My limited research tells me that about one and a half percent of all males now alive make up the number of males over the age of eighty. In broad terms, this would mean that ninety eight and one-half percent of all males hope they make it to Bob’s age. I would not presume to speak for Bob, but I am not certain I have ever had any attribute for which 98.5 percent of my guys are envious. Yaaaay for Bob!

      • Peggy Payne
        February 5, 2024 at 8:50 pm Reply

        That’s some nice arithmetic, RonPerk. I’ll tell Bob about this distinction. At the same time, I wish a lot more men were lasting longer. At my recent college reunion, there was one man at the gathering of my dorm friends. So many husbands had died.

      • March 13, 2024 at 2:02 am Reply

        What a terrible piece of bad luck Morris – if it’s possible, I hope the scoundrels who stole ya’all’s stuff get no pleasure from their crime, and are caught & punished by the justice system, however inlikely that may be. Perhaps you two can transform the meaning of this unpleasance into something neutral or positive. bob

        And Thanks a lot, Ron, bob

  • February 5, 2024 at 4:12 pm Reply

    As one who only recently turned 83, I applaud Bob and wish him a belated happy birthday! 81 is an advanced age by any standards , but I hope you and he will have many more to celebrate( both birthdays and anniversaries! Stay healthy and make that a reality!

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2024 at 4:22 pm Reply

      Thanks, Kenju. And the same to you!

  • February 5, 2024 at 4:14 pm Reply

    I meant to say 82, but my comment has disappeared.

  • February 5, 2024 at 4:24 pm Reply

    Ah, there it is.

  • Nicholas Stratas
    February 5, 2024 at 5:15 pm Reply

    And many more in good health, spirits and well being!!!

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2024 at 6:51 pm Reply

      Thank you, Penpal Nicholas! Those three items–unnervingly relevant, as it happens–really cover it all. I wish you the same: good health, spirits, and well being!!!

  • Lee Grohse
    February 5, 2024 at 5:53 pm Reply

    How wonderful! I feel very fortunate to have known this beloved husband of yours for 48 of those 82 years. Happy Birthday to Bob, and well done to you for throwing him a festive celebration with good gifts. This month my beloved husband will turn 77, a nice, balanced number. l can hardly imagine him this old! I feel very fortunate for our good health and fortune, but more and more frequently anxieties about the future creep in, and, unlike most anxieties, these are about things that are actually highly likely to happen. Lots of need to focus on the enjoyment of the present. So as a couple just a few years behind you guys in this aging thing, I congratulate you two on the many great years you’ve had, wish you plenty more, and celebrate the current good times with you!

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2024 at 6:57 pm Reply

      Have passed on to Bob your happy birthday, Lee. Thanks. And you’ve known him longer than I have. I know a woman whose husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer the week after their honeymoon. At the funeral she said to the gathered crowd, “Some of you knew him better than I did.” That comment really stuck with me–so sad. I feel very fortunate that Bob and I have had so long, so far. Also, BTW, I do want that true crime conversation. I keep thinking things will calm down. Probably shouldn’t wait for that.

    • March 13, 2024 at 2:05 am Reply

      And a Very Happy Birthday to your fine husband Peter! bob

  • Judy Wall Burroughs
    February 5, 2024 at 7:48 pm Reply

    My husband and I are getting ready to celebrate our 33rd anniversary on Valentine’s Day. He is 81 and I am 73. He is in good health and gets around doing things very well. We are so fortunate. Happy Birthday to your spouse!
    – Judy B.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2024 at 8:48 pm Reply

      Thanks, Judy, and congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. Nice choice to get married on Valentine’s Day. I’m glad your spouse is doing so well.

      • March 13, 2024 at 2:08 am Reply

        And a Very Happy Birthday to your fine husband Peter! bob. And Thanks, Judy – same to ya.. bob

  • February 5, 2024 at 8:42 pm Reply

    Oh, Peggy, this is too funny not to report here. In my comment above, I referred to my psych therapy with Bob (it was 1990). The “occasion” was a depressed period I was suffering through following a mania of the preceding year, when I was convinced that I would win the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes. I called that period of mania “Youie Summer.” (Youie was the name of the Einsteinian god I called Universal Intelligent Energy [U.I.E.]) Well, to get to the punch line, I was just remembering Youie Summer to a nephew of mine and seconds after I sent my text to him, I got a spam telephone call from: THE PUBLISHERS CLEARINGHOUSE. The caller told me I had just won $2.5 million! Unlike myself of 1989, I told him I didn’t believe him, I was going to hang up, and please don’t call me again.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2024 at 8:53 pm Reply

      That’s quite a story and punchline, Moristotle. Congratulations on enormous progress since 1989. And the PC ought not to go around getting our hopes up like that.

      • Anonymous
        February 5, 2024 at 9:03 pm Reply

        Ha-ha. I’m sure the caller was really from the PC!

        • Peggy Payne
          February 5, 2024 at 9:06 pm Reply

          I no longer know who’s calling, Anon. I got scammed by a guy who sounded so warm and legit. Now I question everything.

    • Bob
      March 13, 2024 at 2:10 am Reply

      I’m glad to’ve known you Morris, and very pleased to’ve helped you – thanks fro lettin’ me know. Warmly, bob

  • February 5, 2024 at 9:07 pm Reply

    Peggy, I just noticed that the timestamp on my last comment says 8:42 p.m., but it is only 4:06 pm as I submit this comment now, about 20 minutes after to the “8:42 p.m.” comment.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2024 at 9:09 pm Reply

      The time on my car clock keeps changing too, Morris. Things are just in a general state of confusion.

  • February 5, 2024 at 9:19 pm Reply

    Peggy, are you driving (and blogging, not to mention still celebrating Bob’s birthday) in Iceland? That might explain the 5-hour discrepancy.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2024 at 9:33 pm Reply

      Not in Iceland just now, Morris. But I’d love to go back. Those people read and buy books at a higher rate than any other country. And their neighborhood gatherings are in hot tubs.

  • Bob McKeithan
    February 6, 2024 at 3:20 am Reply

    Hi Peggy. It was wonderful seeing you In person after so long at your book signing In Raleigh and finally meeting Bob in person after hearing you talk about him in your blogs. Please give him my heartfelt congratulations and best birthday wishes. At this stage in my life I realize the significance of 82 years, like I couldn’t have in younger days. Also my best belated birthday wishes for you from last month. I hope the coming years are kind to you both and bring you much joy and a few bottles of really nice wine.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 6, 2024 at 4:54 am Reply

      It was good to see you, Bob. And the Bob at my house appreciates your congratulations. Wishing you good years to come as well as the really nice wine.

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