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The first time I visited
Ruth and Bill Porter’s
farm in Vermont, during
a rough patch in my marriage ten years ago, Ruth
and I had never spoken.
Nancy Perry Graham
Editor, AARP THE MAGAZINE
THE NEW NATALIE
life and death
within 24 hours,”
says writer Meg
of Natalie Cole,
center,with assistant art director
We had met online a year earlier,
introduced by her brother, an actor
I know in L.A., when Ruth was writing her first novel. We’d become fast
friends, e-mailing daily, first about
our love of writing, and soon about
life. She and I shared the same birthday, and I felt I’d known her forever.
So, feeling smacked down hard at
the turn of the millennium, I accepted Ruth’s invitation to retreat to her
faraway farmhouse—my 16-month-
old daughter, Jessica, in tow, in
ANIMAL AT TRACTION Relaxing on the
Porters’ farm, Graham and daughter
Taylor develop a barnyard bond.
the dead of winter—without a moment’s hesitation. I spent the month
of February sitting by Ruth and Bill’s
wood-burning stove, talking about
work, kids, love, and lessons learned.
During that month Jessica walked for
the first time, and I took steps toward
repairing my fractured life.
Nobody can tell me these friends,
whose lives have since become so
intertwined with my own, whose
farm is my sanctuary in good times
and bad, weren’t heaven sent.
This holiday issue honors
those good spirits who make our
lives better in profound ways.
Animal lovers should check out
our tribute to heroic pets, “Tails
of Love,” on page 48. You won’t
soon forget Lex, a wounded
bomb-sniffing dog who risked
his life trying to revive a stricken
soldier in Iraq.
For executive secretary
Laurette Davis, who has worked
at AARP THE MAGAZINE for
12 years, one angel in her life
was her grandfather Lawrence W.
“Happy” Davis, who worked for the
Pullman Company from 1925 through
1973. Davis was one of tens of thousands of African American men who
for nearly a century made train travel
in America a luxury. Meet some of
these proud porters on page 60.
And then there is Natalie Cole, who
shared the dramatic story of her lifesaving kidney transplant, for the first
time, with our entertainment editor
at large, Meg Grant (page 42). Grant,
a veteran journalist who joined AARP
THE MAGAZINE in 2008, says Cole and
her son, Robbie Yancy, believe the
events were divinely inspired.
Cole is a survivor: she has a sign on
her computer that says “Encourage
Yourself”—a reminder of advice she
received as a child to be her own best
friend. If you read our story about
resilience, on page 34, you’ll see that
positive, flexible people turn misfortune into opportunities and learn to
grow from their grief.
I hope 2010 brings you the opportunity to enjoy the people who enrich
your life the most. Happy Holidays!