By Arlene Appelrouth

Seventy is wormwood,

Seventy is gall

But it’s better to be seventy,

Than not alive at all.

— Phyllis McGinley

Seventy is one of those birthdays widely perceived to announce “You’re not young anymore.” As poet Phyllis McGinley implied, positive attributes aren’t associated with that age.

Jackie Granath gets chopping during her 70th birthday.

Jackie Granath gets chopping during her 70th birthday.

But Jackie Granath, a longtime Dunwoody resident, resisted that perception and invited me and 12 other close friends to a cooking and eating birthday party that demonstrated life can be an adventure even at 70.

On Sunday, July 10, those 13 friends showed up at the Kuniansky Center at the Marcus Jewish Community Center’s Zaban Park campus and were given black aprons and chef and paring knives. They also received unusual recipes for the sugar-free, gluten-free lunch they would prepare and eat together

Large ovens were preheating, and a chef and his assistant were ready to help.

Bobbi Perlstein, Granath’s former business partner, stood stirring chocolate in a stainless-steel pot. She offered tastes of the ganache to those who came to see what she was doing.

The friends, most of whom knew one another from Temple Emanu-El, chopped vegetables, laughed and tasted.

Elissa Fladell planned the party for her mother.

Elissa Fladell planned the party for her mother.

“This is like being with my sorority sisters,” one guest said.

Elissa Fladell, Granath’s daughter, organized the party and planned the menu. “It was a challenge because my mom is gluten- and sugar-free and doesn’t like fish or avocado.”

She gave a loving tribute to her mom, who shed tears of joy.

“No one in my family lived to be 70,” Granath said. “I realize this is my decade to do what I want, spend what I want, because who knows? In my next decade I might not have the energy or the desire.”

Granath is helped by a husband of 48 years, Alan, who she said is “warm and caring and provides unconditional love. He’s incredible.”

Instead of bringing gifts, the guests submitted favorite recipes, which Perlstein compiled into a cookbook with Granath’s photo on the cover, “Best Friend Classics Cook Book.” Each woman took home a copy.

But Granath said the best gift for her was the validation of her friends. “At my party, my friends acknowledged me for always being a giving friend. I was acknowledged for saying the right things and saw people really like to be with me.”