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Lea Lane

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Looking Back With Pride On The Fullness Of My 60s

Posted: 08/31/2012 9:18 am

I may not look it and I definitely don't feel it, but I just turned 70, which makes me old by just about any standards. "Young" old perhaps, but aware of time's passage as never before.

Which makes me remember how I felt when I turned 60, and even when I turned 50. I complained, "I'm old!" And throughout those years I didn't usually mention my age unless I had no choice.

I was lucky enough to have my health and my wits. I was in full bloom, but didn't always have the sense to realize it.

Most of us waste time thinking negatively about growing older. And we often don't realize the grace and privilege of maturity until we're moving into the next decade and look back in wonder at the accomplishments we didn't appreciate while we were living them.

I made a list on my 70th birthday, a day of celebration, to help me reflect on a few of the memorable things -- good and bad -- that happened while I was in my 60s. For example, I:

Became a widow a few months before turning 60. It was especially challenging, as we had just moved to Miami three months before my beloved husband died. I had left my life and my friends in New York, so I really was starting over, and had to accomplish things by myself that I had never done before.

Bought a cat, right after my husband died. I learned to gain an animal's trust as a solo companion, and enjoyed making her life comfortable and happy. She has given me back pure affection.

Fought for my rights when my stepsons challenged their father's will. It took three years, and much emotional stress, but fairness prevailed. I found an inner strength I didn't realize I had.

Was mother of the groom at my older son's wedding in 2002. I went alone and it was tough, but it was a beautiful experience.

Dealt with an income tax audit. I sorted through details and dreaded the outcome, but came through with the government owing me money!

Sold a home. For awhile I maintained the home north of New York City that I had lived in for over 30 years. But then I chose a realtor, sold it, moved out, sorted the goods and downsized my life.

Bought a condo near my former home, and close to my family; I sold it five years later at a loss. I picked myself up, fixed up the condo in Florida and nested there permanently.

Wrote a book called "Solo Traveler" in 2005, which sold well. I then founded a website for single women, spoke on panels, was interviewed on TV and became a spokeswoman for single life.

Was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of 2006, a total surprise, as I had never smoked. It was caught early, by chance. I dealt with it alone, but I survived.

Traveled to dozens of countries, including Antarctica and Greenland within six weeks of each other -- I'm probably the only 60-something woman on earth lucky and crazy enough to be "bi-polar" in that short turnaround in 2008.

Dated younger men, strange men, even some normal men.

Cut back drastically after I lost a good portion of my savings in the 2008 economic crash. I budgeted, freelanced, did without and made it through.

Watched my sons prosper. My younger one worked toward his PhD, became a college professor and appeared in major museum shows in New York. The older son lost his publishing company in the crash, wrote a book about it and eventually became editor of Forbes magazine.

Became a grandmother. Twice. For me it's the nicest part of growing older.

Got married again! At 67, to a great, age-appropriate guy who works full time and writes me love notes every morning. And I wasn't even looking: A friend fixed us up.

Survived complications from another major operation. I'm fine now but was nourished through a tube for a couple of months in 2011. (Alas, I gained back the weight.)

Enjoyed adventures. Zipped on a line in the jungle, rafted in white-water, raced in a Formula One car at 150 mph (as a passenger, but that still counts!).

Learned things. I saw scores of movies, concerts, plays, shows; I read, listened, discussed. And somehow, things seemed to make more sense than they used to.

Made new friends, online and off. I pruned negative ones, strengthened old ones and worked on volunteer projects to find like-minded souls.

Wrote hundred of blogs, a few of which even became viral.

This synopsis of my 60s was a revelation to me: so many highs and lows, challenges and accomplishments. I made it through certainly wiser. Minus some parts, but still moving forward. Intact with my family. Loving more deeply.

I just wish I hadn't worried so much about being older, and realized more the fullness of my life as I was living it.

This new seventh decade of mine will hold interesting challenges, joys and sorrows. I understand the fragility ahead, but I know that I'm privileged to celebrate membership in the club of three-score and 10.

And I intend to appreciate the coming years, proud of my age.

 

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