Newest Blog Entries


Single Serving

May 29, 2015 Margaret Crane

Single Serving

As a widow, I had to take entertaining into my own hands. Two years after the death of my husband, I was ripe to have new adventures as a single. Top on the list was throwing my first ever formal dinner party—certainly not black tie but hors d’oeuvres, a three-course meal,  real silver, good china and lots of wine. For the most part during my 42-year marriage, our social life was pretty routine. We went to movies in groups, ate dinner at restaurants with many of the same couples, had them over sporadically, and they invited us back. Nothing fancy....


How to Help an Aging Parent

May 22, 2015 Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

How to Help an Aging Parent

Life alone in your 80s and certainly 90s can be tough on our parents as well as on sandwiched kids, as we’ve found. We’ve gradually learned many do’s and don’ts that depend, of course, on a parent’s condition, physically, mentally, and financially. Here are our tips: 1. Most want to remain independent and retain their dignity. Don’t automatically do stuff for them, engage them in choices when possible, and ask if it’s OK unless it has to do with their safety or they’re so incapacitated mentally or physically. They need to exert their free will, so they feel in control....


Helping a Mother Age Gracefully

May 15, 2015 Barbara Ballinger

Helping a Mother Age Gracefully

When I divorced, my mother went through her own stages of grief, disbelief, and shame. Few in her family had divorced; fewer of her friends’ children were. She was of the generation that considered it a maternal failing, along the lines of a daughter’s lackluster housekeeping or poor cooking.   Though she was angry, she felt compassion for me as well. I remember her telling me in the parking lot of a grocery store when we visited my older daughter at college that I was dragging the divorce on for too long. She didn’t know that I had begged my...


Mothering My 92-Year Old Mother

May 05, 2015 Margaret Crane

Mothering My 92-Year Old Mother

I’m a middle-aged kid in the middle, sandwiched between parenting my three adult children sporadically and much more frequently my 92-year-old widowed mother. I’m not alone, but part of a cohort of reportedly 43.5 million family caregivers, many of whom are aged 50+, according to a 2012 report by the Alzheimer’s Association. I know I’m very fortunate still to have a parent alive.   About two years after my husband passed away four years ago, I started to construct a new life. I was about as happy as I could be under the sad circumstances. I had grieved in groups and one-on-one...


Welcome to Life Lessons at 50 Plus

April 28, 2015 Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

Welcome to Life Lessons at 50 Plus

Yes, we’re both 50+ and proud of it. We’re also proud of our long-term friendship and writing partnership of 35 years. We’ve led parallel lives–raised five children collectively to be independent and self-supporting, tended to aging moms now in their 90s, continued to pursue our writing and speaking careers, tried to squeeze in time to travel, read, cook, exercise, entertain, and after losing our spouses, carve out new lives and find romance again. Our lives have been derailed drastically. Barbara’s happened almost 15 years ago, after she was married for 31 years, then dumped. Margaret, “Meg,” was married even longer....