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Thursday, 08 March 2012

My Eightieth Year

By Lyn Burnstine

Lyn Burnstine at 79

On January 5, I embarked on a journey - my 80th year. It probably feels more monumental than it will next January when I turn 80. I found that to be true of the past birthdays: 29 was more ominous than 30, 39 more than 40, and on until now. By the time I turned the corner into the next decade, I was already used to and accepting of its reality.

Turning 50 was somewhat daunting because I was still looking for Mr. Wonderful and I knew that age was a limiting factor. In the early 1980s' version of eHarmony – singles ads and dating services like Singles Music Lovers – you had to list your age first.

I knew men were still attracted to me when they met me but few of the ad writers were willing to look past the big five-o. In fact, most of the men I met and dated on my own were younger than me which just proved that the ad guys were being short-sighted.

When I was rejected on paper on the basis of being over 50, I wanted to do a little nya-nya-nya-nya nya dance aimed in their clueless direction.

Sixty was good. I was no longer interested in looking for Mr. Right and was happily anticipating an easier time of semi-retirement and moving into subsidized housing in the near future. In spite of pain and health issues, I was still very active and independently pursuing my passions (men no longer being one of them, however.)

Seventy, marked by the best party of all time, proved to be more of a turning point than I realized. Although I had been given a heads-up by TV’s Dr. Phil about the accelerated aging in one’s seventies, neither I nor my same-age friends were prepared for it.

We now sit and puzzle over this. Perhaps because in so many ways, 80 is the new 70 – or even 60 – in terms of activity levels and ways of presenting oneself, we have been lulled into thinking we can avoid aging.

But aging is aging, and no amount of exercise, good nutrition, youthful attitude and stylish appearance can completely forestall its inevitable process. Your body is still going to thumb its nose at you eventually. Aging is the deterioration of the body and nobody is immune. Unless you die young.

Most of us wouldn’t have lived to see our 70s in the old days – the pre-antibiotics, pre-insulin, pre-bypass surgery days. So this is bonus time, and I want to remember that.

It’s not easy. Some days are so damn hard. I want to be honest about that with myself and with you. You are going to need to tighten your seat belts for a bumpy ride, as am I. But the bumps mean that you’re still alive.

I was reminded recently that you can be 80 and still have 10 or more years to enjoy your dear ones and your passions, or you can be 51 and have only one day left. My friend, Martha, died suddenly two weeks ago with less than a week of warning. She was 11 days older than me; she never reached her 80th year.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Marvelous post. Thanks for lighting the path, I'm turning 70 next week. Every day is bonus time, thank you.

Lynn, your smile lights up my LIFE!!! What an awesome post. I have so much to look forward to!! *slight hint of sarcasm here...*

You are the person we all wish we could have for a next door neighbor...

Well you and I have the same birth month, and I did not realize I am in my 80th year til you pointed that out. Well good for me, and good for you. My mom lived to 96 and I cared for her the last 15 years. I have to say, she did not age during that time, unbelievable. She more or less just "was" and had no bad health issues. So maybe you will enter your "golden" 80's. Good story!! When she was 96 she said it was not fun anymore and she died two months later. Keep on havin' fun!!!

Beautiful picture and post. Congratulations, lovely lady.

You set a good example for those of us trailing behind you. Intellectually, I tell myself, you must take your turn. One day it will be your turn to die, to make room for a new life. I appreciate your honesty.

"Life is much too short for some folks
For other folks it just drags on" Jesse Winchester
It seems like I've been dragging for as long as I can remember. Your attitude is your treasure, I'm glad for you!

You are just gorgeous!!! Inside as we know from reading your prose, and outside as I can clearly see now!

For the first time I've hit a birthday that has snared my attention -- 65. I've noticed that I'm growing stuff where none grew before, and not growing stuff where it used to grow. There are a few more aches and pains. Now I learn from you that this is but preparation for my 70s. I had better practice. I enjoyed your post.

Dear Lyn,
It still seems strange to me that I too did not "feel old" until I was about 73. My body has held up pretty well if I ignore a few aches and pains. Periodically I have had problems with memory and at one point depression of sorts. It seemed my brain and heart adjusted and learned to compensate for the losses so that I can still function. In fact, as the compensation strategies become almost automatic, it does not seem like my disabilities are as bad as they used to be. There is an old saying from somewhere that says, "If you think you are crazy, you probably are not. It's when you know that you are NOT crazy, you should begin to worry." Hopefully, at 76 I am not the latter yet even though I already stated I don't think I am as bad as I used to be.
Loved your story.
Michigan Grandma

Well, Welcome to your 80th year,Lyn. You'll love it because you have a wonderful attitude and that will make you enjoy every minute.

Write your stories,take your pictures and love your friends. What more could you ask for?

Lyn - Great piece!

Although I am a bit wary of the Dr. Phil quote about, "accelerating aging in ones seventies." You don't look a day over 60! - Sandy

Thank you all so much for your lovely, caring comments. Thanks for taking the time to write them--I so enjoy making the new friends from blogging, and hearing from old friends. Ronni has talked a lot about how great social media is for those of us whose abilities to get out and around are being increasingly cicumscribed by age. This is really exhibit A: I got to visit with 12 of you today, while sitting at my desk. I love it.

Yes - it's great to be alive, pretty fit and mostly healthy - but it certainly helps to be reminded by someone like you Lyn, thanks for the wake up call.

Thanks for the memories. I didn't feel old until my mid 70's and then my body began to slow down. Now I that I am nearly 87 the process is speeding up. I forget words more often and have more strange aches and pains, but life is still wonderful.

Welcome to the club.

And you, Darlene, are my inspiration. I just put you on my blog list, and when I have time, I intend to read all your past blogs. I just got new glasses-- I can now see the monitor with no strain, so I can
catch up on reading.

Enjoyed your post. Thank you.

I am almost 85 and an agnostic and I can't help thinking - if one has a life as wonderful as mine has been and then die, without any part of me surviving in any way, what the hell is the point of it all? On the other hand, so much of life and what people do with theirs makes no sense as far as I can see, maybe the idea of there being anything after death makes no sense either. I had a dream a while back - a black sheet was being drawn over me and I said "Thank you, God, for everything." Somehow that has made me less afraid of dying. (Yes, I pray to God and thank him even thogh I don't know whether he exists or not, because I feel grateful to someone or something for my life.) Thanks for your musings.

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