I have a sister-in-law who at age 85 took a round-the-world cruise. As she entered the boarding area, she saw long lines of passengers snaking around to the clerks. Over to one side a small group of people entered a different gate. She joined that one. When it was her turn, she stepped up, lay her umbrella on the counter and said, “I am traveling steerage, but now that I am nearer 90, I don’t stand in lines. Can you help me?” It worked. She was escorted on board as though she were traveling first class.
That’s my idea of living well. We must ask. We must remember that we are not invisible. At a cross-walk, I take one step out and cars stop. I wave and the drivers wave back, roll down their windows, and call out a greeting. I get the sense that they are surprised to see someone of my vintage out there walking around in the sunshine. Maybe I give them courage to face advanced years with a spring in their step.
I don’t like the word, “retirement.” It sounds as though just because George and Georgie no longer go to a usual job-for-money, they are tired, useless, over, done. We are defined by more than our jobs. In my late 50s, I closed my tutoring center for dyslexic students and joined the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament. In nine months, we walked from Los Angeles to New York City to Washington, DC. Within three years, with others, I walked 5,000 in the United States and in Russia. I didn’t feel retired!
Since my 80th birthday I have written and published four books. The first, Tell Me a Story, is a memoir in a collection of short stories for my families. The second one, To Make the House Complete, is about four houses (two in Mexico, one on a farm in Oregon, and the cottage in Capitola) and a marriage, all of which needed a lot of work,. The third, Walking for Our Lives, covers the adventures of the peace walks and how a proper, passive 1950s homemaker grew to become a passionate peace maker. The most recent title is DRIVING for Walking for Our Lives, a 20-day book tour of the Pacific Northwest my publisher and I did in May of 2012.
I am not unique. There are many vibrant ol’ ladies about. In the meetings of Crones, here in Santa Cruz and inter-nationally, post-menopausal women gather to celebrate their years, their wisdom, with stories and songs, dancing and drumming. It’s all in our attitude.
With an “attitude of gratitude,” eight glasses of water and a walk in the sun each day, we in our “advanced years,” will never feel retired because we have the keys to the kingdom.