Turning 100, But Who’s Counting? (not Frances)

Dec. 15, 2017—If Frances Kolarek were still blogging for Collington—a Kendal community in metro Washington, D.C.—she’d probably have a thing or two to share with readers about turning 100.

“This body, this machine we inhabit, works 24/7 and it gets worn out and mine is showing serious signs of wear,” says Frances, adding with a laugh, “I’m into old.”

Frances turned 100 Nov. 18 and celebrated the milestone with her daughter, Mary, and about 50 friends.

“I didn’t do anything to get here, it just kind of got dumped on me,” she says, adding “We have several people living here who are 100.”

The former reporter quit writing “A Celebration of Age” blog about two years ago. She still writes articles for the monthly Collingtonian and remains a voracious reader.

The New York Times and Washington Post are at my door every morning. I spend most of the morning reading the papers and working crossword puzzles,” she says.

Afternoons, she catches up on emails, orders groceries online and runs errands in her scooter. Around 4:30 she heads to the bar and enjoys a glass of pinot grigio and music with friends. She either eats dinner in the dining hall or takes it home, but regardless she’s in front of the TV by 7:30 p.m.

“I’m devoted to Jeopardy,” she says.

Then she’s off to bed with a Bruno mystery (by Martin Walker) or another favorite book.

Frances has lived a fourth of her life at Collington, moving there after the death of her husband, Joe. The two met at the Times-Herald newspaper in D.C., where Frances was a reporter and Joe a copy editor.

The couple relocated to New York when the Office of War Information hired Joe. Frances got a job at Time magazine as a researcher/reporter, then as a stringer in Prague, where Joe was stationed.

“But after Joe was named Press Attaché, Ambassador Steinhardt suggested a conflict of interest, and I quit,” she wrote.

After stays in Guinea, West Africa, and Bonn, Germany, and other foreign cities, the couple moved back to the United States, and later retired to an island in the Chesapeake Bay.

Once settled at Collington, Frances thought she’d write a book about aging. She began gathering material from newspaper clippings and books, but decided that the “whole aging picture” was changing so fast her book would be outdated the minute it was published.

So, she started blogging.

She wrote a couple of blogs about sex. “Medical authorities who study the effects of sexual intercourse assure us that it offers only benefits. The danger of stroke during sex is minimal, they say, and it’s good for your heart. Yes. Good for your heart physically and emotionally.”

And more than a couple about the benefits of laughter, including aging issues.

“I am deaf. And it’s a huge pain in the neck. And that other four-letter place,” she wrote. “When I suggested to a fellow resident that hearing aids might be a good idea, he said, ‘Oh, but they make you LOOK so old.’ This from a person wearing trifocals and carrying a HurryCane. Look old? Get out your abacus and count. You ARE old. And, you are not ‘hard of hearing.’ You are deaf.”

She also advocates the joy of growing old at a retirement community like Collington. “Note to prospective residents: Come while you still have the energy to move, adapt and to enjoy this place,” she wrote.

Nowadays, Frances has no interest in blogging.

“I live by two things—keep it simple and less is more,” she says.