[A new story, Crabby Old Lady Gets Grumpy, has been posted at blogher.org this morning.]
[EDITOR’S NOTE: It often has been noted here that people age at dramatically different rates. We all get old, but how healthy we are or not at a particular age is different for each of us. An 81-year-old can be and often is as vibrant as a 65-year-old, or two people even at those widely separated ages could be physically limited in a similar way - all depending on individual genes, health and plain, dumb luck.
What is not variable, however, is the experience of years. When we are children, five years is a long, long time. By mid-life, five years between the ages of two people makes little noticeable difference in how they relate to one another. So, superficially, it would seem to follow that after about age 60, ten or 12 or 16 years shouldn’t be much of a separation.
But 16 years is nearly a generation. The childhood and adolescence of one person born in 1925 – the sensibility and zeitgeist of those times that we drag along with us throughout life – is nowhere near the same as another person born in 1941.
Millie Garfield of My Mom’s Blog sometimes makes mention that at age 81, she has done a great deal more living than I have yet at age 65. She’s right, you know, and so I invited her to write a guest blog here about…well, I’ll let Millie tell you.]
Ronni has honored me by asking me to be guest blogger on Time Goes By. The question she posed to me went something like this, "How have you changed, how has your life changed, how has your daily life changed in the past 16 years?"
What huge questions! Ronni picked sixteen years because she just turned 65. The answer, in a nutshell, is that my life is totally different now at 81 than it was back when I was 65. I'm a different person in many ways. Life happens, you need to adjust and to accept those things that you cannot change and go on with your life.
Many wives complain about having their husbands under their feet when they stop working. In my case, we had no problem, he did his thing, I did mine and then there were times we did things together, that way we made life interesting for both of us.
Soon after my husband retired we started spending the winter months in Florida.
We took advantage of the many activities that our complex offered. Like my mother taught me, "If you don't go out, nothing will happen." So I went out and things happened.
It was an opportunity for me to meet people who had different backgrounds and different ideas than my own. It wasn't difficult meeting new people to spend time with. It's not hard for me because I listen when most people talk.
I had to learn how to deal with people that were nothing like my good old friends from up north.
What I quickly realized was that you have a history with your old friends that is irreplaceable. There's a comfort level that is built up over years of shared experiences. I've been coming down to Florida for 18 years and have made a lot of friends, but only a handful of them approach the closeness and comfort of those old friendships.
Ah- losses, those were hard times - I lost my husband when I was 68, he was 74. Five months later his sister died, after that other family members and friends passed away.
It was during those days I realized how strong I had become. My husband had always encouraged me to do things for myself. If it weren't for him I wouldn't be driving today. So many husbands say to their wives, "honey, I'll take you wherever you want to go." They take care of all the financial matters and when "push comes to shove" the wives are helpless. Not so in my case.
For some reason I always have trouble spelling the word "decision." I think it's because I have had trouble in the past when it comes to making an important decision but as time goes by it's not as difficult as it once was. Experience is a good teacher.
After my husband died I knew it was time to sell the house. The friends that I had were all married, had lives of their own and I had to make a new life for myself. What to do, where to go? I gave it a great deal of thought, thought about it and thought about it. I almost made a mistake by considering a development where two of my dearest married friends lived. What a mistake that would have been! They were supportive but I needed to be where I could meet other widows and single ladies.
Fortunately for me, in that case, I moved very slowly and finally found a development where I knew a few single ladies. It took me three years to do "the deed" but it paid off because the day I moved in I knew it was the right place for me. The neighbors were welcoming and I fit right it.
Challenges of a New Life
Another big decision I had to make was, "Do I stop going to Florida for the winter." Even though I had been going to Florida for years with my husband, this was different - could I do everything that had to be done to get ready, I would be alone and have to make new friends, it would be a totally new life.
I sat on that for a while and then a light bulb went on, "if I wasn't happy, I could always come back home." At that point I was strong enough to realize that's what I had to do. If I hadn't gone that winter I wouldn't have been going all these years.
How Have I Changed?
Another big question. I'm more confident, assertive and independent. I'm more selective about how I spend my time, I'd rather read a good book or be on the computer than spend it doing something I wouldn't enjoy.
When I was 65 I did not think about age, my health was good, I baked, I cooked and had family and friends over for dinner, Now at 81, no more baking, very little cooking and very little housekeeping, I move a lot slower now but what needs to get done, gets done today, if not there is always tomorrow.
At the age of 77 I started blogging. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it would enrich my life the way it has. When I was a child I was this shy little girl and look at me now! I've been on TV, been written up in newspapers and made speeches!! This all came about because when I asked my son, "What is Blogging?" I took the challenge and started a whole new chapter in my life.
There's a lot of living to do between 65 and 81, there are bumps and pot holes in the road, but they can be repaired and life can be beautiful!