Every summer gets a little harder when you reach your nineties — all those wonderful fundraisers and parties and art openings, not to mention the fireworks and Illumination Night and the four-day Agricultural Fair right down the road from my home. Even if your mind holds up and wants to attend all, or some of these fun events, oftentimes your body doesn’t.

This year was the second time since 1948 that I didn’t attend the Fair. It’s a tradition and a habit that I have given up.

I also gave up the Potters’ Bowl at Featherstone, which I loved until it got too popular (i.e., crowded) and my rollator doesn’t do well on a grassy field and I can no longer stand in a line. I enjoyed it for several years and really have enough bowls now anyway.

I gave up the Oak Bluffs fireworks and Illumination Night years ago, and gradually gave up the art openings on Sunday evenings when I could no longer walk around to look at the art. My activities have become limited, little by little, but every now and then I attend a function so enjoyable that I don’t mind missing all the others.

The week that made the summer for me saw two celebrations, one on a Monday and the other on a Saturday, with five days to recover from the first and rest up for the second. Oh, and two trips to the hairdresser so I would look nice for them both.

On the Monday night, we attended the annual Hospice fundraiser at Farm Neck. Round tables for over 300 people were set up under a huge tent, with a smaller tent holding objects for the silent auction. Hospice is my favorite charity, and though I never felt I could afford any of the big money summer fundraisers, I am outliving so many of my friends that instead of sending a small donation when each one died, I decided to make one grand donation in August for all those who had died during the year. So, farewell Charlie and Lucille, Eleanor, Bob, Howie, Jane and Ron — I will raise a toast to you all at the Hospice dinner.

It was a lovely affair — a chance to dress up and be with friends around a table for nine and close to the buffet table so I wouldn’t have to go so far to fill my plate. We shared our table with the same people we shared it with last year and enjoyed a delicious meal and the live auction. On the way out I was approached by Noel Bagnall, who had been one of my students when she was 13. I hadn’t seen her in over 40 years, and it is always special when I meet a former student.

The following Saturday began with rain, but turned into the most perfect sunny afternoon and evening. Deborah, my daughter and caregiver, accompanies me to most functions, and we left at 5:30 p.m. to attend the 80th birthday party of Patricia Carlet, my friend and colleague at the Edgartown School for many years. Her husband David and I share the same birthday 18 years apart — and for more than 20 years we have celebrated April 27 together with dinner at the Black Dog.

Pat and David live in Vineyard Haven in an area called Pilot Hill. We turned off the Lambert’s Cove Road and followed the dirt road to their home. In the large field adjacent to it was a huge tent. We had been told to drive right up to it so I wouldn’t have to walk up the hill from the parking area. Right inside the tent were two comfortable wicker cushioned chairs alongside a table with a “Reserved” sign on it. Our honored place.

The party was catered with a bar table, a cheese table and a raw bar. Waiters and waitresses passed among us with little lobster sandwiches, chicken satay on sticks and other small delights. Then the Mike Benjamin band took its place on the long side of the tent and began to play their foot tapping music. People came up to greet me — neighbors and friends, former teachers I had worked with, as I can no longer browse or mingle. On my right was Ben, a longtime West Tisbury neighbor and well-known architect, but now deep into Alzheimer’s. On my left was his loving wife, Paddy.

There were many people on the dance floor. And then a strange man whom I didn’t know approached me and said: “You should be out there dancing.” As I started to protest that I could barely walk, he took both my hands and pulled me to my feet. He had a grizzled beard and sported a funny hat — and he was insistent that we get to the dance floor. I stumbled along with him and we stopped in front of the band and I began to shuffle my feet which felt very heavy. My friend Debby M. came up and supported me on one side and I felt more secure. And so we shuffled and swayed and I prayed I wouldn’t fall over and embarrass my partners — and myself. And I didn’t. I arrived back into my comfortable chair feeling exhilarated and so grateful to this stranger who had somehow known how frustrating it was for me to be in a room filled with happy people dancing, when I couldn’t any more, and celebrating my friend who has now entered the world of the “very old” but doesn’t look it or show it.

But this stranger, by his actions, had made me happy.

It was a real blessing.

Gazette contributor Shirley Mayhew lives in West Tisbury.