Thirty years ago, after a slow, inexorable two-year decline, my mother died of brain cancer. She died a few weeks after her sixty-ninth birthday. I was thirty-nine.
Between then and now, which is to say, for the past thirty years, I’ve heard a slow, steady ticking in the back of my psyche. I’d assumed – quite wrongly, as it’s turned out — that, being a lot like my mother (physically, at least), my life would come to an end at about the same age as hers. For this reason, I pushed myself to accomplish certain life goals “in time.” My bucket list included such items as starting my own business (check), joining the Peace Corps (check), doing some world travel (check), learning French (check), writing more books (check), getting an MFA (check), and teaching at the college level (check), among others. I also made all the proper end-of-life preparations — Will, Living Will, Health Directives – and even paid for my funeral arrangements, in full.
My own sixty-ninth birthday has just come and gone. I’m still alive, and it appears in impressively good health (for which I’m thankful).
But — need I point out — I hadn’t planned on this?
Where do I go from here?
I now find myself scrambling around, looking for guides on this new road called Old Age. I’ve just thrown out that ticking timepiece, whose alarm I felt sure would go off the minute it struck 69-o’clock; and I’m seeking wisdom from older women so I can go forward creatively, purposefully, and productively.
My Mom, who, to tell the truth, always rebelled mightily against the idea of aging, forever trying to pass for younger than her years (to the extent of falsifying her birth date on her drivers license), is long gone. I seem to be going on. Therefore, I’m now on a quest for role models for admirable aging. This “WOW Factor” blog is my launch pad, my entryway into wise older women’s lives. I need such women in my life.
And I wonder: Don’t we all?