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Menopause Journal: My Mother, My Menopausal Mentor

Lessons from Mom

My cousin said she takes something too. Her friends took them so she asked the doctor if he thought she should. Apparently he did.

For me the hormone question is worrisome.

My mother continued, "As far as menopause interfering with sex, that's nonsense. You don't mess with birth control. It can be the best of your sex life."

She told a joke about a girl asking her mother when women got tired of sex. The mother said she didn't know, she should ask her grandmother. Her grandmother said she didn't know, she should ask her great-grandmother. Her great-grandmother said she didn't know.

My mom felt the need to explain, "In other words women don't get tired of sex."

"Some women get tired of sex." I argued. "I've heard people say, 'enough is enough.'"

My cousin added, "I've heard 'enough is too much.'"

My mother scowled. "I wonder if they have nice husbands."

"Some women don't even have husbands," said my cousin.

That didn't phase my mother. "And keep yourself in good health."

Well, yeah.

And that's the problem with her advice. She oversimplifies and figures if she can do it, anyone can. If it's not her experience, it's probably "nonsense."

By her own assessment, she's a fortunate woman. She had loving parents, an education, a good marriage and four children who are alive and well today. It wasn't perfect: my sister had open-heart surgery at age 6 and my dad is dead now. Last year, my mom survived surgery for a broken neck . Perhaps an act of will.

She believes in free will and doesn't give much credence to genetic predisposition or misfortune. She has little sympathy for the Allen gene or other weaknesses. She's self-disciplined. She doesn't eat ice cream for breakfast. She watches her cholesterol, walks every day and puts things in order. She's sensible and cautious. If her car were falling apart, she certainly wouldn't buy a boat.

She added, "And keep busy doing interesting things." Good, something we can agree on. My mom followed opportunities that opened up for her in her 50s. That's when she studied with Dr. Suzuki and started her own violin studio. Likewise, my friends and I are busy doing interesting, sometimes difficult things. Even sailing and painting qualify.

I admire my mother's example and her success is hard to ignore. I even like my mother, but I have trouble following her advice. She oversimplifies complex situations, and she's too blatantly sensible. But I sure hope I inherit a little of her genetic material.