The AARP Convention and Friendships Go Hand in Hand

Paarty with AARP

   Let me tell you about my friends and our fabulous four days at the AARP convention.
   The AARP convention, which was held in Washington DC this year, was an upbeat journey of celebrity presentations, mini university sessions, and a 500 vendor expo that featured amazing live entertainment each night.
   As I mingled through the crowd of 25,000 attendees, I realized it was more than a convention, it was an opportunity to meet, reconnect and in my case, rejoin old friends with the AARP as the conduit.
   For those who aren't familiar, AARP is more than an old persons organization with discount cards. AARP is a 50-year-old nonprofit organization started by a teacher who fought for benefits for retirees. Today it has 40 million members with chapters in every state. Their big push is the "Divided we Fail" campaign which wants each political party to put affordable health care and the solvency of Social Security at thetop of their agendas. To join AARP, requirements are simple; you have to be at least 50 years old. That's it.
   Each year the organization celebrates by throwing an event titled "Life at 50 Plus." It's a very informative gathering styled after many conventions, but this one is cheap! Only $25.00 gets you in for all four days. Lectures included much more than health topics and Medicare supplemental insurance info. There were personal stories of courageous career changes, community involvement, and motivational speakers encouraging the exploration of potential that you never thought you had.
   Who would think that Gene Simmons of KISS had a story that could motivate? Or Ricardo Chavira (handsome hunk of Desperate Housewives) leads huge rally's for Breast Cancer awareness.
   On opening day, AARP organizers embraced the beauty of Washington by holding the afternoon session at the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Speakers ranged from Sally Field, Buzz Aldrin, Martina Navratilova, and Dana Torres.
   While back at the convention center Shirley MacLaine, Regis, Maya Angelou, Gene Simmons, Cal Ripken Jr. and Quincy Jones filled the theaters. A non-partisan AARP even set up equal time live teleconferences with Barack Obama and John McCain.
   At the expo of more than 500 vendors you could have a consultation with Dr. Ruth, go to a seminar for hips/knees replacement, experience the interactive game of Wii, visit lots of travel booths, or attend mini lectures on every aspect of retirement as well.
   Evening entertainment included Chicago, Natalie Cole and Chaka Khan. Paul Simon closed the convention and rocked the house by inviting the entire initially timid 50 plus crowd to get up from their seats and rush the stage.
   As for my friends (Elinor, Sue and, Susan), they are a group of bright, beautiful, interesting women who I was fortunate to meet in my youth.

   We've kept in touch over the years, but it wasn't until the idea of meeting once a year with the AARP convention as our host, that we became committed to a yearly reunion. We are working women, have three husbands and two ex husbands, ten children and 14 grandchildren between us. We care for our families and our communities. We are nurses, real estate agents, artists, and entrepreneurs. We reside in three different states, share a love of beauty in art, photography, music, film, travel, and gardening. We also just happen to be old enough for our AARP membership. We love to talk and no subject is too sacred to discuss, from the Bible to presidential candidates, from something new we learned on life and love, to what was the most exciting new travel spot featured at the expo. Thanks AARP! Next year the convention will be in Las Vegas. Are we registered? You bet! Rooms reserved and all. For no matter who wins the election, or what subject dominates the news cycle, meeting with good friends remains one of our top priorities.

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