Six years ago I wrote a blog post about turning sixty. About how turning sixty was somewhat cathartic for me. A sort of reality check. All my life I had seemed to lurch from one stage of my life to another, with no perceptible change in between. I’m a kid, and then suddenly, almost overnight, a teenager. I’m a confident, experienced teacher in my thirties, and then in a moment I’ve become a sad, sagging, middle-aged, menopausal woman.
Or at least that’s how it felt one day back when I was fifty-one and I caught sight of my face in my car’s rear-view mirror. A big jolt of sagging, menopausal reality. When had I gotten so old? Tears and self-flagellation followed. And then subsided. By the time I finished relating the event to my friend the next day, I was laughing about it. But all hyperbole aside, it took me days to get over the shock that I was no longer young. And then I was back to normal. Just in a new phase of my life.
Turning sixty was another reality check. Thankfully less of a dramatic one than that day when I was fifty-one.
But for the past few days, I’ve begun to think that sixty-six is the new fifty-one. Life has been a bumpy ride lately, my friends. And I think I am due for a big reality check.
Let me take you back to the other morning. Hubby and I were readying our tent trailer for our camping trip this upcoming week. It was a beautiful, sunny, breezy, not too hot June morning.
The birds were madly twittering in the trees behind the shed. The yellow primroses were blooming. Out on the river, all was calm beauty. Sunlight glinted off the water. Two fisherman sat companionably in a small boat, lines in the water, talking in low voices, occasionally jogging their rod up and down, as one does to check that the lure has not become tangled in weeds. A breeze blew the leaves in the big maple tree at our backdoor. On the lawn, Hubby was unpacking the screened tent we have recently purchased so we could do a trial set-up.
And me… I was on my hands and knees in the trailer cleaning. Vacuuming. Wiping down surfaces. Scrubbing the floor. And bawling my head off.
Seriously. As I shoved the vacuum nozzle into crevices, rammed my wet cloth into corners, and shifted cushions and mattresses to get at the dirt that had accumulated over the winter, big tears rolled down my face. I cursed under my breath… well, mostly under my breath. And felt sorry for myself. “I hate frigging cleaning. And I really hate cleaning this frigging tent trailer,” I muttered. “I hate all the damned effort it takes to pack for this trip. I hate all the rain and bugs and dirt that is camping. Why the hell am I still doing this at age 66? We never have any fun. And I’m old.”
Then I sat on the floor in the trailer and sobbed. I snuffled and blew my nose on a thick wad of paper towel. Quietly. So Hubby wouldn’t hear. Because… I mean, really… how could I ever explain this latest drama? Despite my over-the-top emotions I still knew that they were over-the-top. And when I had dried my face, I sat there glumly, thoroughly disgusted with myself.
Turning sixty had been easy compared to this. I’d been almost sanguine about sixty. And looking back now I realize that’s partly because I looked the same as I had in my fifties. In fact, I think I looked pretty good for sixty. The folds and wrinkles I had noticed at age fifty-one were now just a part of who I was. And I was okay with that. Overall I felt great. Life was good.
I had settled into retirement. Hubby and I had weathered the rocky years of his numerous surgeries and health scares. We’d been travelling. The year before we’d had a wonderful month in France. We’d spent two lovely weeks in the Carolinas in the spring, hiking and eating shrimp and grits. I had planned a couple of short trips that summer and fall with a girlfriend. And Hubby was mapping out our big adventure to South America coming up in the winter of 2017. As I said, life was good. My reality check, turning sixty and acknowledging that fact, was easy peasy. As it always is when reality itself is easy peasy.
But this year, and in particular this past week, has not been so easy peasy. On the surface our charmed life continues apace. We are both healthy, for the most part. We have not caught Covid. Mum is well cared for and happy. Hubby and I are financially stable. The roof hasn’t caved in, nor has the basement flooded.
But despite all my good fortune, I’ve had days when I have been so restless, so dissatisfied with life and with myself, and some days so sad, that I am brought up short. “What the hell?” This year my reality check has taken the wind out of my sails. And I’ve been trying to analyse why that is.
I think that the fault lies in the fact that this year for the first time I truly feel as if I am IN my sixties. Kind of how the twentieth century didn’t really start until 1919, after World War I ended. My sixties did not begin when I turned sixty. But this year, there’s no pussy-footing around it, I am a senior citizen. And I have the white hair to prove it.
When I embarked on my white hair adventure back in 2020 it was a lark. Why not just let my hair go au natural since I wasn’t able to get to the hairdresser anyway? I could have purchased home-dye kits at the drugstore, I guess. But I didn’t want to start messing around with all that. And I have not regretted my white hair decision. I like my hair. Most of the time. But let’s face it, white hair does make me look older.
“And so what?” someone, somewhere who is reading this might be saying. I am older. I should stop whining, be grateful, and remember that I am lucky to be healthy, and privileged to be growing old. And I am grateful. Most of the time.
Except for lately. Lately I have been feeling old. And not feeling sanguine about it. So I’ve been trying to distract myself by focussing on how I can change up my style to reflect my changing body and my new colouring. And when I get dressed up and do my hair and make-up I feel good. Strong, confident, more like my old self. Not my OLD self, my normal self. Ha. I’ve been concentrating on eating healthier. And changing up my exercise routine. Which is all good. But, you know, this whole thing, it’s about more than positive or negative body image. It’s about more than how I look.
It’s really about the whole idea of growing old. Growing old is not something that rose-coloured glasses, and chirpy, positive self-talk can magic away.
Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m not old. Yet. But unlike when I was in my forties or fifties, I have begun to see that my time is not unlimited. Our time is not unlimited. And the two years we have spent waiting for the pandemic to be over are two years we’ll never get back. The pandemic threw a big monkey-wrench into all Hubby’s and my plans. Into everyone’s plans, I know. And lately I’ve been dwelling, perhaps too much, on the fact that Hubby and I are running out of time together. Remember he is a decade ahead of me age-wise, if not activity-wise.
So maybe all my angst about my hair and my changing body, my restlessness and dissatisfaction, my profane muttering, and whining about how we never have any fun, is just my fear talking. And maybe realizing that fact is my biggest reality check yet.
That’s it for me, folks, for another week. As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, Hubby and I are off camping tomorrow. Pray for sunshine and no bugs, please. I know that once we are set up, the campfire is crackling, and the wine has been poured, I’ll forget all about my tantrum. Some toasted marshmallows and a paddle down the Little Bonnechere River will restore my perspective. It always does.
P.S. In case you’re interested, here’s a link to one of my posts about our trip to the Carolinas in 2016. A couple from our trip to 2015 France here and here. And a couple from that 2017 South America trip here and here. These are older posts so the photos only show up when you click on them.
71 thoughts on “Reality Check 66”
Oh yes, I can relate to everything here, although my tears don’t flow inside a camper. And for me, it’s not so much looking older (or just plain old!), but feeling it and too often questioning how much/whether I matter or whether anything I do or have done has value. I’m often shocked at how forcefully those nasty voices can speak up, saying things I’d reject if I heard them from anyone else, but they’re only saying things about old women that we’ve all absorbed from so many sources for centuries, millennia. Hard to silence on THOSE days! Never would have anticipated this, and can usually muster what it takes to get up, stop the tears, and get on with whatever. But in the very early hours of a day, although both Paul and I are healthy and fit, I can’t help think that I’m exactly the age, this year, that my mother was when my dad died. . . I suppose that’s all the more reason to press pause on the crying and take advantage of the time we have. As you’ll be doing “in your frigging tent trailer” amid “all the rain and bugs and dirt.” And — you know it — having a great time and forgetting for those moments that you’re 66. Thanks for a post that I needed to read right now — it’s not only me, always a relief! xoxo
Yes. I am 65 next month and that just does not seem possible. Plus, 65 is a year that is weighted with old age definitions, much more OAP then Senior. Sod that. As for the physical signs…I have always liked my hair so going grey does not worry me at all but the way my skin has decided to turn to crepe paper and to hang….it did it very suddenly and left me amazed. But I refuse to cover it up and hide in the sunshine because literally nobody but me even gives it a second thought and that is exactly what it gets from me – two thoughts. I do think that the past 2.5 years has impacted on all of us in ways we could not possibly imagine and most of us are still dealing with that, even if we have got away with it lightly so far. It is all about the process. I have been pondering this a lot recently and it may well warrant a blog post when the pondering has settled. I shall imagine you sitting by the crackling fire with a large glass of wine, under the starry night skies, frigging bugs and all.
Thank you so much for articulating what I feel. I am so glad you shared this sudden fall into the abyss. I’d never thought about my age until at 65, my work and the government kept calling me a senior and urging me to claim social security and medicare. Even then, I fought off the numbers. But the Covid lockdowns of 2020 did me in, with the British gov. telling me I was vulnerable–but also expendable. Not to mention the home haircut and bad dye. I’m still struggling to crawl out of this abyss–it didn’t help that I had retired in 2019, so I had no purpose, no reason to go out, no socializing, no volunteer work. A haircut has helped but I am conscious of how old I look now and how stiff I feel. I cannot make myself go thru the efforts of hair, makeup, fashion if I don’t go out into the world. By chance, I also read this blog today: https://aeon.co/essays/simone-de-beauvoir-on-facing-old-age-and-avoiding-bad-faith
Yes, I understand how you are feeling. Many years ago, as my father-in-law went on and on, telling stories of the past, I thought how sad, that all his good times, good memories were in the past. I thought that he had nothing to look forward to in the waning years of his life. Now, I often find myself thinking the same thing. And, then, I realize that, though the big, exciting life milestones may be past, there are small joys every day. Perhaps, in these twilight years, if we cannot look forward to big things, we must learn to savor those small, everyday moments. Enjoy your trip.
So, I woke up at 3:00 this morning and started worrying, life and all its little problems weighing heavily on my mind. I looked up your blog, knowing you published on Sunday morning, and hoping your writing might keep me company as I sipped a tea in the wee hours. Its subject was not quite the fashion or book musings that usually entertain me, but a sober and touching outpouring of your heart, and it truly resonated. I have six years on you, and those feelings of mortality you describe are frequent companions these days, especially as family and acquaintances begin to slip away.
However, when I went back to bed, I fell into a deep sleep, and had a lovely dream in which I met a very stylish you on a train to who knows where. You were dressed in a lovely sheath, teal and burgundy, and wore a beautiful wrap around your shoulders. You were accompanied by a dear friend of mine, who has had a falling out with me recently, and whose company I miss. She is also a style icon. Anyway, we had a lovely adventure together, walking through some narrow cobblestone streets and under umber coloured arches. We discussed fashion and had coffee. We laughed and chatted. It was a beautiful dream, and probably means that I shouldn’t sneak a Tim Tam to eat with my mid night cup of tea.
Have a lovely restful camping trip, enjoy Nature’s beauty, and I hope it brings you peace.
I was there with you Cosette!!!
Recently I saw a former student who was polite and asked how I was. Being the witty person I told him I had gotten older before I was ready for it! I think that sums up most of the comments of your following. Covid did not help either for the shutdown. The other afternoon I told my husband if I knew how to Zoom, I would have a Zoom pity party!Here I am with all this experience(No one wants!),old,physically useless(health is the most important of all)/everything fell apart-so now what do I do! (any and all suggestions welcome and appreciated). So now I read blogs! And comment!
“I had gotten older before I was ready for it.” Oh, YES!!!
It sounds trite, but it has greatly helped me through the most extremely challenging circumstances of my life: focus on being grateful for what you have had, and for what you now have, in your life.
Hilarious, Susan Kelley! And so true! Brava!
Well I’m a bit ahead of you , I’m 72, and honestly don’t feel it, people tell me they don’t believe I am that age, not sure if they’re being kind, there are plenty of wrinkles and crepe-y skin as evidence.
But hubby is 5 years older, and I see the difference that makes, he’s really slowing down, doesn’t have the stamina he had . I get impatient sometimes, but I think it’s born out of fear, that it’s downhill from now on, we can’t rely on having good health, strength, mobility.
Another thing is the frustration, anger even, that time is running out for the fulfilment of dreams, in my case travel to all those places still on my list. Covid certainly hasn’t helped with that ! Perhaps the only answer is acceptance that it is what it is. Zen.
Forgot to say, enjoy your trip !
The lack of stamina is really frustrating. Good health is so very important. That seem to be my biggest issue right now. I do not have the energy I once did,so getting excited about anything seems out of reach. I hope that will change over time.I see my husband changing almost in front of
me as he tries to take care of me . Health is the greatest gift which we don’t appreciate as we should. Take care of each other! (and ourselves!)Best to all. Happy camping!
I hear you ! I just turned 65 and will get that OAS soon. The thing that has given me a new lease on life is that last month my brother donated his kidney to me and we are both doing great. Now I can make plans again. However hubby is having a health scare which we don’t know the cause yet. Just have to take it one day at a time. Hope your camping is good. I gave it up when I turned 40.
I really understand your feelings and share them. I am 74 and this year I’ve finally understood that I am older and have to work harder at staying healthy and energized. I cannot function on less sleep and need to pace my physical activity. Physically I feel great but I cannot ignore the years that I have been on this earth. I am trying to be grateful for each day and enjoy it. This is a lesson that I was not prepared to learn! Thanks for this post.- Mary Lou
Wow, Sue. Thanks for this post… I rarely comment but felt compelled to do so this morning. You see, I too have lived a “charmed life” with a husband whose main goal in life was to take care of me and he did a fine job of it. Until…he couldn’t. Two weeks ago he was killed in a motorcycle accident (a hobby we loved and did together – I wasn’t riding with him this time however). I wish you and I could sit down and have a chat. Me, a Texan through and through and you, a lovely Canadian friend… One of my husbands acts of love to me was to leave me “The Notebook” – yes, a nod to the book and movie – as a last love letter which includes all of the details of “…if ever there is a day that I’m not a part of…” So I guess my point is to encourage you and Stew to enjoy life and to put together a notebook. It’s been one of my lifesavers during the last two weeks (along with our two grown children who live on the same block – yes, we are a close family). Enjoy your trip. I’m 64 and seeing that same skin and bat wings…ugh. That’s a worry for another day. In the meantime, I’m looking toward heaven and able to put one foot in front of the other by the prayers of others. And we are one day closer to someday….
Merri Lynn, I am so sorry for your sudden loss…please accept my heartfelt condolences. Having suddenly become a widow without “The Notebook” or grown children living closeby, I am very glad that you have both. And thank you for “we are one day closer to someday….”
I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that your children and the notebook continue to help you through this very difficult time.
I will be 65 in September and I can relate to everything in your blog post . Since the New year I have been really thinking about this birthday and dreading it. 65 was the traditional retirement age, the start of old age and decline. I had to retire at 50 due to back problems so it’s not retirement that’s irking me, so it must be the thought of old age. To reinforce that thought, I was in the waiting area of my Dr’s surgery last Monday and a younger lady offered me her chair and my immediate thought was do I look that old! I have been having a discussion with some friends recently about how women are seen or rather not seen in our older years. The years advance and old age comes whether we like it or not. There are no classes to learn how to cope or adjust. So it’s one foot in front of the other and keep learning as we go. Happy camping Sue.
Oh how I relate to this. I’m exactly 10 years older than you and my reality check came when I turned 75. When I was 66 I was well and fit and looked good, and didn’t feel any different to 46 and that continued for several years. But when I turned 70 things just started to stack up and now I can’t deny the advancing years. Do you know what, I absolutely hate it when people say, ‘age is just a number’, because they’re usually younger than me and I think You.Have.No. Idea!
And I agree that the pandemic took two precious years away from us. But two weeks on from my 76th birthday I am resolved to be defiant, face the reality and then enjoy every moment I have. So enjoy your camping trip (sounds a lot of hard work though) then dress up when you get back, put on that lippie and onwards and upwards.
But I am with every word you’ve written for this blog.
Oh my gosh, get outta my head! I was working in the yard yesterday, trimming bushes. Angry that I feel I am getting too old to do this anymore and trying to calm myself at the same time. Round and round I go. Also trying to remember when I trimmed those bushes last. I cannot remember. Where does the time go? Anyhoo, I love your blog – the fashion, the travel and the book recommendations – as well as your ruminations on aging. Thank you and keep up the good work.
We’re all thinking along the same lines here . At 74 I’m three years older than my mum when she died . I was seriously ill three years ago & thought that was it but I came out of it pretty fine & it taught me a little lesson . I’m not overly concerned with the grey hair & wrinkles . I can cope with the aches & pains for now , regular exercises help . I recently cut out all sugar , cakes , chocolate etc on Doctor’s orders & found it surprisingly easy considering my lifelong sweet tooth . I absolutely don’t have the same energy I had in my sixties but I know my limits & give myself some slack . I do all the things I’ve always enjoyed but not for as long . I don’t yearn to bungy jump , paddle board or tick off a bucket list . Hubbie is a few months younger than me , has always been very active & still is . He has to wait around for me on our walks these days . Sometimes it’s annoying to be this age , sometimes it’s ridiculous & quite often it’s funny . Especially when I trip on a walk & the dog runs over to look down on me in puzzlement – why is she lying down now ? I understand how you feel but you are lucky . You have inherited a great sense of humour & we really need that in life . Enjoy your camping .
This is spot on to how I’m feeling this summer and I haven’t been able to put my finger on why. Like you, I have much to be grateful for, and yet this year is feeling difficult. I have a BD this week, too — 69 — and I’m in the doldrums. I don’t think it is the number per se, although next year is looming (ha!), but just a general lack of enthusiasm. My DH is also quite a bit older than I am, and I do think fear is part of it. He had a fainting event that frightened me enough to call an ambulance (luckily, nothing significant found) and now I’m watching him differently. Add that to the two years we’ve been in the pandemic, the general sense of dis-ease in the country, the war in E. Europe, etc.etc.etc. Some days it’s just a lot. I hope you enjoy camping and it takes you to a happier mood quickly.
SO timely as I just celebrated my 70th on Thursday. My brain still thinks I’m 48 so eases the sting somewhat. I joke that my husband (74) and I are ‘junior’ seniors and not senior seniors! Most of us don’t have the courage or eloquence to express our feelings and fears as you have so thank you.
I always enjoy your posts Sue but today you knocked it out of the park! You’ve just put into words what most of us are feeling on any given day. I have been feeling restless and somewhat down the last few weeks. I couldn’t really tell you why, as like you, I live a charmed life and I have absolutely nothing to complain about
I am turning 71 next month and this fact always makes me shake my head. How did this happen and how did it happen so quickly? I feel a little cheated to have lost two years to this darn pandemic and we are still not comfortable traveling so we stay home. Sigh! Not having something to look forward to probably has a lot to do with my mood. I am also aware of the fact that there may come a point where traveling will not be an option due to age and health concerns.
Anyway, thank you for this as it does help that I am not alone in this thing called old age. I really look forward to your Sunday post as it is always entertaining and well written. Enjoy your camping trip and making new memories!
Such a great post today. I think the pandemic has played havoc with us all, can’t help but think time has been “stolen” from us a bit. What has helped me is getting back out into the world and spending May in Greece. We knew it would be an outdoor type of vacation and we felt safe as we reconnected with one of our favourite vacation spots. Made such a difference to be back to our “real” selves doing what we love again.
I can totally relate to this. I will be 68 this yr and I can’t believe it. The downward slide from 65 is real. No denying the advancing age. There is something sad about it even if you are supposed to think how lucky you are that this or that hasn’t happened to you or your loved ones , like illness, financial woes, etc. I have a 24 yr old daughter and am sad that I will have less yrs with her given our age difference. But I have a good sense of humor and high school friends to laugh and commiserate with. It’s not over yet and hopefully some travels and good times are in our future. I also think that taking an anti depressant has really helped me not wallow in the glass being half empty, or worrying excessively, or being more melancholy than not. Finally, be glad you have your mom. My mom was an older mom, like me, but at least lived to 96. In her 80s, I was working full time and raising a young child and couldn’t see her as much as I would have liked. I miss her every day. Sorry this post seems so sad. I actually am thankful to be here! We just can’t escape the feelings we have all the time.
You write about lots of things we old women have to ruminate upon. Only feeling “old” when turning 80, I am now 82…my mother died at 82 & 11 months old. However, she was an alcoholic most of her life, overweight, and in her few last years she had a series of strokes.
I had to work until I was 68 as I was raising 3 children and worked at low paying jobs until I could spread my wings, and return to college to earn an M.A. degree to get into a more lucrative profession.
Also I am very lucky to have my husband of 26 years who is 9 months younger than I am as he almost died 9 years ago after a cardiac arrest. He is in excellent shape and exercises like he is 60 according to his cardiologist.
I still walk every day, work in my huge yard watering and weeding and I think that has kept me healthy all these years. I had to exercise to keep my depression in check and it still works for me. When I do feel down and tired at the end of the day I tell myself I will feel much better after a good nights sleep.
We no longer tent camp but we are going to the sierras next week with hotel reservations where we can return to all the comforts of home after hiking outdoors and breathing in all the good ions from the pine trees. Being in nature is a great healer even if preparing for the road trip is a chore.
Enjoy your camping trip, Sue, it sounds glorious to me, and your white hair does not make you look older, it makes you look beautiful.
I haven’t commented in a while but this post has really hit the spot. Since I turned 70 things have really changed for me in many ways and my feelings are reiterated in your post and the comments as well. I love your white hair and think it looks fabulous and chic. Let your camping trip recharge your batteries and put a spring in your step.
I thought I was the only one feeling bad about myself. Like you I have everything going , life is good, I’m in good health, still very active.
It just sucks to get older. I’m sure you will have a lovely time camping.
It resonates with me Sue,very much!
Tears as well,although not in a camper (as Frances said :)).
As I find it,age itself,but especially connected with last two and a half years, ask specific questions, if we were conscious about it or not. One feels robbed of time,experiences,physical and emotional things……one feels vulnerable for oneself and people we love…..
Life is unpredictable,so there is hope and faith for beautiful things than could be in front of us…..
I’m sure that you are having wonderful time right now,you are such an amazing couple
Thank you for sharing this very personal post. It is comforting to realize that so many of us are dealing with the daily angst associated with aging. I know that I am blessed in this life, and try my best to remind myself of that fact, but truth is, I feel I have no purpose, and am not needed. Sure, I tend to my husband and home, and see my children (all who live some distance from me), whenever possible, but it’s just not enough. It doesn’t help that travel plans had to be put on hold. I think it’s that lack of things to plan for and look forward to that has made matters worse. And watching an elderly mother in her last years was an eye opener.
Maybe we should be going camping. Some dirt, a few bugs and a leaky tent just might put things into perspective.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to get all that off my chest. I feel better already.
Enjoy your camping. I look forward to reading all about it.
Thank you for talking about aging in such an honest and companionable way.
I am 70 years old, and have struggled each day of the last 11 years to get out of bed in the morning, since my then-54-years-young extremely fit devastatingly handsome husband was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer to which he succumbed after a mere seven months, weighing 80 pounds in excruciating physical and emotional pain.
We were each other’s everything, our entire big tiny family of two. Both of us had no family. We were childless by choice. Both of us had very intensely social careers, and chose not to socialize outside of work as it took us away from each other and the joy we found in each other’s company. Together we were very athletic, physically active, and totally non-competitive with one another——running, beach paddleball, tennis, biking, hiking, rollerblading, dancing, yoga, body boarding, kayaking, cross-country and backcountry skiing.
Imagine growing old without a soft place to land, without your very own person who knows and shares your history and your bed, and whose only daily goal is to make you happy, who tells you to “hurry up, get dressed before I leave for work because I want to be able to see you in my mind’s eye looking so beautiful as you go about your day” . . . without the most cherished friend to play with, take a run with, share a midnight snack with, plan a trip with, debate world affairs with, discuss home maintenance concerns with (emergency repairs/replacement and remodeling for pleasure), accompany you to appointments with the dentist, physician, car mechanic, and financial advisor . . .
What I would give to sit on the couch, age possibly/probably limiting many of our historical physical activities, caressing my husband’s face, showering him with kisses, regaling him with sly and silly observations to make him laugh, making big plans for trips, and then having to take naps after such exertions.
Poet Donald Hall wrote of the death by cancer of his precious smart, funny, and talent fellow poet Jane Kenyon is his book “Without: Poems.”
Aging alone, without a beloved spouse is to be invisible.
Aging alone, without a beloved spouse is Without.
Not being the most important person in the world to anyone has been a profound shock to me, after 45 years of marriage to my late and very beloved husband. I understand far too well the yearning you express in your last paragraph, and the lines from Donald Hall resonate with me completely. But each of us has had the profound and enduring joy of truly loving and truly being loved by our partner, and for that I am forever grateful.
Your and your gorgeous hair look great! I remember CELEBRATING when I turned 70. A picture of me by a friend remind me I still looked great….completing 70 years on this planet.
In 3 weeks I celebrate that passing of 80 years. Grateful to still have hubby (3 yrs older) and we are pretty healthy. But I DO NOT WANT my picture taken. I take care of my skin, but as always a smiler,,,oh no. But I have my own style, always were wonderful hats summer and winter (a gaucho beaver) and I get people stopping me to say Wow. I have a very small winter closet and a very small summer closet (for the desert) and I feel great from get up to go to bed. (not including the new aches and pains and thin-ing hair. Hats always complete an outfit.
So happy 66! 60’s and even into the 70’s can be wonderful despite loosing our apartment in Paris for the month of September. We are blessed like you to be surrounded by nature.
let us be grateful that as yet we are not ‘without’.
I can also relate to everything here. I’m 70 soon to turn 71 and the age my mother was when she was slowly dying of breast cancer. I’m healthy after a couple of serious scares, and my husband who is 3 years older is super healthy. I know we lost at least two years to COVID and still feel out of place and not sure what to do next. I’m frightened about what is happening politically in the US and what the future holds for my country…especially in my state which, to say the least, is reactionary. We may decide to move, but that means leaving our most vulnerable adult child so not an easy decision. For now I’m not worried about how I look – like my father I look 10 years younger than I am, but I know that will change. I did not expect to have so many difficult decisions in my later years, but here we are. I’m lucky to have my family and general good health.
“Perspective is everything.” So very, very true! The whole year that I was 59, I fretted about turning 60. 60 sounded so old! How had I got there so quickly? Then came 60 and it wasn’t so bad after all! Before I turned 61, I was diagnosed with cancer and within a year, a second unrelated one. Talk about a change in perspective! Suddenly, I was thankful for every day, every month, every year. Now, still with one incurable cancer, but stable and feeling 100%, I’ll be 70 on my next birthday and I’m actually excited about it! It feels like a victory! I totally identify with the feeling that the pandemic has robbed us of time that we’ll never get back though. We’re still living carefully and not planning any major trips just yet. I do look forward to lots of camping this summer though. We upgraded from tent trailer to a full sized, albeit small, trailer a few years ago and I’m so glad we did. It’s so much easier to pack and we don’t have to put it up and down. Best of all, there’s no more nocturnal wanderings across campgrounds to find the bathrooms when nature calls! Hope you and hubby have a wonderful, relaxing time and that everything looks better when you’re sitting beside the campfire or out on the water!
A beautifully written post, Sue and resonates with so many of your readers. I just turned 70 (!) last month; I have been blessed with good health, so I do not feel or look my age as those with chronic illnesses. Just recently saw a doctor whom I had hadn’t seen in a while and she said ” You look great.” Then she looked at my chart and apparently read my age and said, “You look really great!” Why that matters, I do not know, but it did boost my morale.
Enjoy your camping trip.
PS Your silver hair is just gorgeous!
Goodness, what a moment of clarity for me. You’ve made me think that much of my frenetic shopping, cooking, decorating and garden projects are just a way of distracting myself from the fact that time is running out for my husband of 48 years and me. It’s easy enough to ignore what actuary tables predict but when I see cracks in his physical abilities, stamina and interest it’s devastating. We are seven years apart and I never really considered this reality. I know when I’m impatient it is only fear coming to the surface. Many thanks for putting this in words.
Such a relief to know that others are having these strange feelings as we try to emerge from COVID’s shadow.
Maybe it’s as Maisie said these past couple of years have brought us face-to-face with the sobering realization that, as the numbers accumulate, we can no longer depend on good health, strength, mobility, a loving spouse, nearby friends and family—in short, all those underpinnings which made an active life so fulfilling. We plan, but with contingencies, knowing that today’s “everything is fine” could be turned upside down tomorrow. Being told “age is just a number” is infuriating when you’ve just said farewell to a friend who has chosen MAID.
Lately I’ve been thinking sadness isn’t always an enemy. Gratitude and positivity are fine, but maybe it’s also OK to allow a touch of sadness and reflection to enter our day-to-day lives. Crying and laughing are actually not a bad combination.
Enjoy your trip!
So true re crying and laughing.
Your post today really resonated with me, Sue, as it seems to have done with many women. I have a few years on you, as I’ll be 74 in July. I’ve been finding this year that I have less energy than I used to have and that I develop aches and pains after exertion. I’m mourning the fact that two years are gone from my life due to COVID, and I’ll never get them back. I have missed being out in the world. I have definitely spent part of the past two years feeling dejected and incapable of much beyond watching endless home renovation shows.
However, when I look back I realize that I have also used those two years to start to learn Italian, cook more healthy and nutritious meals, redecorate my home, plan some renovations, deepen my relationships with family members and friends. I have continued the journey toward becoming more loving and forgiving toward myself.
I love my silver hair – and I hope that you’ll come to love your white hair. You look gorgeous! I hope that you enjoy your camping trip, and come home refreshed and renewed.
Oh Sue what an emotional piece you have written.I’m 68 and still work part-time to give me a sense of belonging and to be with people of all ages, as I work in healthcare.I was lucky to be able to continue working the last 2 years and changed any plans of retirement to actually get out of the house, away from my lockdowned area.The last two years have definitely taken their toll though and I don’t think I am the same person I was before, and maybe this has happened a bit to you too.
I have always veered towards being anxious and shy and have found it difficult at times to socialise again.Here in Melbourne there is still so much Covid around and so far I have managed to avoid it, but it’s always in the back of my mind.So much emphasis has been put on people of our age to stay safe and that we are vulnerable and it takes its toll.
I always feared dying early as my Mum passed away at 63 and my Dad at 64, and also within a year of each other.I feel like I need to keep working to feel relevant and needed even though I don’t financially need to work.I feel if I have too much time on my hands I would stay in my “cave” too much.My husband retired over two years ago and then the pandemic happened.He did not do well mentally and got depressed and felt old and out of touch with the world. He got help and is so much better now and he is socialising and pursuing his interests.
Thank you for so eloquently sharing your feelings and being so honest.Enjoy your trip and treasure the time with your beloved.
Humphrey the pug’s mum (Instagram)
hello from Geelong! Melbourne (and to a lesser extent Victoria) had such a difficult time during covid. Its no wonder we are all feeling the effects. I have also found it difficult to get back into ‘normal’ life again. I definitely resonate with your comment on ‘staying in the cave’. all the best.
In my entire life I was never bothered by a birthday the way you were on your 51st . . . . until I turned 70. Then, the world shifted on its axis. That really and truly is undeniably old and I’m still having trouble facing it nearly five years later. What concerns me more than the deterioration in my body and brain now is the fact that my time on this earth is now critically finite. That’s just plain scary as I want the world to stop so I can go on enjoying it.
I’m going to be 71 in a week. My biggest aging moment was when I was 50. I was newly divorced, living on my own for the first time and was just sad because I wasn’t where I thought I would be at that stage in my life. When I turned 60 I was ecstatic. My Dad had passed away at 59, so unconsciously reaching 60 was a milestone. Reaching 65 was another happy milestone as I retired. I have been pretty ok with getting older, until last week. I was at a girlfriend’s for coffee, had just just from the mall with a couple new dresses and was showing her my purchases. A friend of hers that I didn’t know dropped in. She had just retired and somehow we got around to our ages. My friend said “you will never guess how old S is” When I said 70 she said in a condescending manner “Well at least you are still buying fashionable clothes” Strange the things that set you off, I know I should take that in a positive manner, but it just made me feel old. I’ll snap out of it shortly…. maybe when I am out wearing my “fashionable clothes” 🙂
I became ill suddenly three years ago at age 69. My life changed dramatically. I lost more than 30 pounds, which is not a good thing to do when you are that old and about 5’1″. I’m on a no sugar diet per doctors orders. Skin sags and makes me look like a melted candle. Thank God for clothes – long sleeves and long pants! But I’ve learned to enjoy life when I’m not in pain and just chug through the bad parts. It was difficult, but still worth the work. It did take a bit for me to get my head around it, but if we don’t enjoy our life as much as we can we’re the only one who looses.
A sweet and thought provoking post.
It’s refreshing to read it. It sets your blog apart.
All your friends commenting are top notch too.
Good luck on your camping trip !
66 here too and feeling somewhat ‘weird’ after a lifetime of pretty much nonstop cheerfulness, so it feels especially strange to me. Part of it, I think, are no set plans for our last third of life (I like a plan!). But I’m sure the pandemic and the troubling state of the world, especially in my own country (US) also account for it. And I, too, worry about my husband’s health as I see him slow down right before my eyes. Trying to make myself follow every negative thought with a positive one and taking extra care to eat right and exercise help, but am basically just hoping this phase passes quickly. Fingers crossed!
You nailed it, Sue! Thank you
Hi Sue, thank you. I feel you.
I‘m on holiday in France, near Concarneau, and reading once again the wonderful Elizabeth Strout „Olive Kitteridge“. It‘s so much wisdom about getting older and how lives goes along.
Thank you for blogging dear Sue!
Sue, this post, along with Frances’ most recent offering (materfamilias), combined with the wisdom of all the comments, have served as a balm for my own restless soul.
Oh gosh Sue, where should I start? Every word that you’ve written resonates so clearly with me. As do Frances’ words and shared feelings on her blog
I can’t thank you enough for writing this post with such honesty and clarity. I so appreciate reading your words and those of all the ladies here and consequently feeling reassured that I’m not the only one who feels like this.
So as well as thanking you, I’d like to thank all the ladies who’ve commented and told their stories and shared their feelings.
I definitely feel that somehow the “lockdown” months and worries about Covid have really aged me and had an effect on how I feel about myself. I struggle to feel and act like my usual “Pollyanna” self. Which not only feels strange but has been noticed by my family.
After experiencing Covid myself a couple of months ago, which even though I’m vaccinated was an awful, draining and exhausting experience. I now become tired so easily and don’t feel at all like the person who was running 5k fairly regularly up until recently. Not a huge distance I admit but as I only began running at 63 my family encourage me to feel good about it!
Thanks again Sue for starting this conversation …
Take care and I hope you and Stu are having a wonderful and “ bug free ” camping trip! 😂 xxx
Look at all these comments — what a chord you have struck! The last two years have changed how I view the passage of time: the anxiety-inducing pandemic, the death of my father, daily involvement in my mother’s care (increasing dementia at age 92) … And now I’m staring down my 60th birthday in a couple of months. It’s not a milestone that has particularly bothered me, really, but I just find myself feeling more vulnerable in the face of all the other blows life has dealt out recently. I am also realizing that I have been quite cavalier in taking good care of myself, and incorporating more exercise into my life (you are a great example in this regard!) is something I definitely need to work on.
I hope your camping trip has been restorative. Thanks as always for sharing your life with us!
Wow, Sue! Look what you’ve started now!
An outpouring of thoughts and feelings from this amazing, beautiful, caring and deeply thoughtful group!
I thought your post struck a chord, and apparently so did so many of the women who participate in this group. I hope we all read your blog and everyone else’s comments and feel the warmth and strength and beauty of this community. We are in good company.
Yes, I thought that as well. Pleasant, isn’t it?
I never really consider my age, in fact sometimes I can’t even remember how old I am but I think I will be 67 soon! Working in a hospital for 38 years taught me that life is short and it is fleeting. I witnessed bewildered spouses making funeral arrangements and wondering why/how this happened or learning to navigate all the new territory a chronic illness would be taking them too. I saw acceptance as well and in the eyes of those who accepted whatever was handed to them, I saw peace. Life happens but so does death. Not just physical death but the loss of health, relationships or our ‘normal’. Acceptance is the key to inner peace. I see that in my 97 year old recently widowed father who is most decidedly NOT mourning his age!! I am so sad when I read about those who have difficulty’getting out of bed’ decades after the loss of a loved one. They have not accepted their reality and will never know peace until they do. I have a dear friend, widowed for over twenty years who blurted out one day that she was still angry at her husband for dying. She has not really enjoyed life since he passed when she was in her forties. That’s a lot of life to waste mourning the past, is that what the loved one would wish? Unlikely. Accepting change of any kind allows us to enjoy the present and to move forward into the future. Don’t waste your life mourning the loss of your younger self or worse, premourning the eventual loss of your spouse. (who BTW seems to be doing better than many) We make so much trouble for ourselves with conjectures and magical thinking. I don’t mean to be all ‘suck it up buttercup’ because your emotions should and need to be validated. If it’s getting you down maybe a chat with a therapist? Don’t think your problems are too small, they’re not.
Sit back and just enjoy the rest of the ride…
Thank you for your reminder to live each day. Also appreciated your comment to not premourn the passing of your spouse. I am a worrier and often get caught in that cycle until I remember to ask myself ” Does worrying help this situation?”
Thanks to all of this community of Sue’s , who have so many thoughtful and insightful comments. The isolation of the Pandemic has made it easy to feel that we are alone in our thoughts and worries. Friends are such a valuable treasure. 💖
Wow. Insightful lovely post. !
Great advice from someone whose witnessed first hand in her career.!
Sort of : Live your life , as it really is.
Enjoy what you are able to now . Sunrises. Sunsets. Coffee. Family. Friends.
Even voices from this post from one another.
Thanks Sue for bringing us together.
I never felt “my age” till I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer at the age of 67. That was one year ago, and I have had major surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible, 5 months of chemo and now a cancer inhibitor drug as long as my body will tolerate it. After surgery, I felt (and looked) 20 years older – I couldn’t even stand up straight as there were so many staples in my abdomen and pelvis area. Then I was tested for the BRCA1 mutant cancer gene and am positive. Who knew? The cancer is under control for now, but I know that I have a ticking time bomb in me. I have learned not to dwell on this, but to enjoy each day for what it is. And in a small way, fashion has helped me keep my spirits up. When I lost my hair, I invested in many scarves and hats to cover my bald head. I added lots of colour and patterns and had a 1920’s and boho vibe going on. When my hair started to grow in, it came in bright white and I sported a pixie-ish style for 2 months till it started to grow in curly. I’m enjoying the white hair and am looking forward to seeing how it will change as it gets longer. I am in the process of changing my style from classic to a bolder, edgier look and adding brighter colours in clothes and lipsticks to complement the white hair. Oh, and lots of big earrings :).
I have regained most of my energy and stamina and spend as much time as possible outdoors gardening and golfing and am just happy to be alive.
We don’t know what the future hold for us, but we should enjoy what we have now and where we are as it will eventually change.
I do enjoy your blog and look forward to reading it and all the comments every week.
Thanks for writing this.
It’s a sad but a hopeful post.
Many in this group are , have , or will be experiencing these types of changes going forward.
I hope you keep gaining in strength , hope and joy.
“Good luck “
‘ We don’t know what the future hold for us, but we should enjoy what we have now and where we are as it will eventually change.’
Brava <3 Attitude is everything and you are a shining example. Best wishes for a full & happy future.
I’m catching up with your posts and by now you are off camping. Hopefully the bugs aren’t too bad and the sun is shining.
I think that the blues can catch us by surprise and we need to gradually pull ourselves through the heavy weight that is a bit of depression. The last two years have not helped. The lost years. When we’re older and counting on the time to do some of the things that we are dreaming of, it’s tough to be locked down by a deadly virus.
I’m the same age as you and I also let my hair grow gray, so I look older too. I also put on quite a bit of weight during the Covid years and that is depressing. You look fantastic – fit and always put together.
I hope that you are feeling better and enjoying your trip.
Appreciate this post Sue and all the thoughtful comments from your readers. Looks like we are all in the same boat, to a greater or lesser degree …….still trying to get it together after two years of the pandemic and finding that things are not the same and the world has shifted on its axis a little bit. I still feel that although we are getting back to normal, normal somehow feels very different from the ‘before times’. Can’t quite get into any sort of rhythm and plans always feel uncertain and tricky. Let us hope more peaceful and settled times ahead for us all.
Thank you, Sue, for your honesty and for expressing, so eloquently, how many of us are feeling. I will be turning 67 in two months and for about six months now I have been dealing with feeling down and a general sense of malaise. This is new to me. I think it truly is due to the aging process. I have always been an average size, but this year my underarms have gotten saggier and my mid section has gotten pudgier, even though my weight hasn’t changed that much. The aging body! I am having a hard time adjusting to the new me. I feel like a whiner even typing it, because I have so very many blessings in my life. I still dye my roots and put highlights in my hair, not because I think women my age should, but because it lifts my spirits. You looks beautiful with your all-white hair but I think mine would be a dismal mix of various gray shades. I have a goal of age 70 to cease dying my hair altogether. Somehow that just seems like a marker point to make some changes. My mother has developed dementia over the last two years and that has been hard to see someone I love so much lose touch with reality. A reminder for me to keep using my still-working mind and be grateful for each and every day. Just know that you and your writing are so much appreciated. I hope your camping trip with be rejuvenating! Listen to the birds- their singing thrills me and restores joy.
^ This. All of this. I can’t thank you enough for expressing what I couldn’t express myself. And to know there’s a worldwide sisterhood who understand? Priceless
Late to the party, I know, but had to write to say that this was a fantastic post. Redolent with honesty, trepidation and pain (with or without chocolat). I’m 2 years older than you and dreading turning 70 in 18 months. Bracing stuff indeed, but as I rather unkindly observed some years ago to an older colleague whining about his birthday, the alternative to growing older is much worse than the privilege of a long life x
thank you for writing this. i have been feeling very guilty lately for feeling grumpy and dissatisfied and so bloody old! i am 63 but have recently retired and although I am busy and financially comfortable I feel as though I dont really have a purpose any more and i am fading away. i am trying to counter it by going on a fitness kick to lose the final covid kilos but it isnt really helping with the angst.
most of the time my sense of humour is still there but not always. i recently lost a much loved sister in law of exactly my age and it has made me realise that life is not infinite and more frightening of all… there is much more life behind me than ahead. hang in there I am sure you will feel better soon and cope in your usual inimitable style!
Thank you so much to everyone who commented on this post. As I mention in my next one, I was overwhelmed by the response when we returned from our camping trip. So much empathy here. For me who, let’s face it, has nothing much to complain about. And more importantly for those who have lost loved ones, suffered pain and illness, and who are soldiering on way better than me. Oddly enough hearing how someone else has coped with much heavier burdens helps me to pull up my socks and soldier on too. xox
Oh … I’m days late to arrive here, but I’ve read every single comment. I don’t have much to add except to say that this has been the most amazing experience … who knew that there was such a sisterhood! I’ll be 64 in a few weeks … still working but often wondering about the future. My husband and I have no children, just each other. We married later in life and I think this will prepare either of us to be alone if/when the time comes. LOTs to ponder here. Thank you everyone for being so frank and honest.
Sue, thank you so much. We are among the first to be digitally literate and make this journey from late middle age into early old age out loud. Just like Mom bloggers changed our cultural understanding of childrearing, posts like yours I hope will change our cultural understanding of aging. The ills and the joys, both.
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