Divorced and smiling.
Married and smiling.
BY LOIS DESOCIO
Julie and I have moved the name of the blog ahead a few years in order to catch up with us. We feel we are beyond The Write Side of 50 because we are now pushing 60. (I’ve already crossed the line.)
Indications are that we are aging out of the “middle” and are now on the precipice of “old.” So we’ve moved the start line up to 59, hence, “The Write Side of 59.” Fifty nine — an age that you may not give a hoot about nor have thought much about until it’s behind you.
Many view 60 as the beginning of “Chapter Three” in the trilogy of life. The last chapter. The end of this chapter is The End. I know I’m certainly humbled by what sociologist and psychotherapist, Lillian B. Rubin, who died last year at the age of 90, had written for Salon:
“Sure, aging is different than it was a generation or two ago and there are more possibilities now than ever before, if only because we live so much longer. It just seems to me that, whether at 60 or 80, the good news is only half the story. For it’s also true that old age — even now when old age often isn’t what it used to be — is a time of loss, decline and stigma.”
“… loss, decline and stigma.” Realities that I try to tuck away in the far reaches of my consciousness, but are certainly part of my life. Yes, bad personal news is becoming as fickle as weather — guaranteed, but only so predictable. Some bad things will not get better. A lot of good things are no longer going to happen. Illness and death are plucking people from my life.
I could go on and on with the usual platitudes that play with our heads and tell us that we can stay “young” forever — that cultural bombardment of how to defy age. You can fight your gray hairs, your wrinkles, and the desire to go to bed at 8:30. You stay physically active, and you seek out stimulation and passion.
But any routine and repose will no doubt be interrupted by bad news. Wounds — both emotional and physical — seem to cut deeper, take longer to heal and often whittle away at that blissful sense of control and immortality that the younger years allowed. There’s a new balance between: “I can handle anything,” and “Haven’t I had enough?”
If “the good news is only half the story,” that means there is a good half. If anything, aging into the 60s, 70s, and 80s will be unpredictable. And studies show that there is an “upswing” in satisfaction and happiness throughout the 60s and 70s.
And I’m guessing there will be fodder for adventurous storytelling unlike any we’ve ever had. Julie and I are among the lucky ones who have our health, our independence, our jobs. We laugh a lot. And we’re both on brand new (and different) post-59 paths.
At 59, Julie married for the first time.
At 59, I divorced after a 30-year marriage.
Julie’s parents are both alive and healthy, as are all of her siblings. She has a big extended family.
My dad died years ago, my mom has been taken away by severe dementia, and I lost a brother. I have almost no family left.
As a newly married woman, Julie has lately been living the life of a newlywed with a sense of calm and a sense of safety that comes with being a newlywed. She has a husband, Steve. She’s happily navigating being part of a married couple and all that comes with it — commitment, laying roots, love …
As a somewhat newly divorced woman (one year), I have been living in a constant state of gusto — full of risks, perils, thrills, and curiosity. I have dates. I’m happily navigating being single and all that comes with it — variety, enchantment, lovers, (danger!) …
I’m thinking the right side of 59 can be a captivating time in a devil-may-care way. Be foolhardy. Be wise. Take those risks. Look where you’re going. Mourn those losses. Salute your survival. Jump in with eyes wide open. Cry your eyes out when you feel sorry for yourself.
And try your best to stay “alive” until the day you die.