Summing up a life

Nancy,  Age 81
I just found your blog accidentally, and am delighted! Just read a story, and feel as if I am with good friends, even though you all are somewhat younger than I….as I am 81. But am in decent health, actually biked 18 (flat) miles the other day, and go to a trainer once a week. Music is my delight, and this afternoon I played quartets (viola da gamba….a Renaissance cello-like instrument) with old friends for the afternoon. Lucky me!

My husband is at a basketball game right now, and we go to U of A games during the season. He’s a sports nut. Married 58 years…..in 1958 actually. Both from a little town on Long Island, met in 7th grade. But it hasn’t been all bliss….whose life has? But we soldiered onward, despite many years leading quite independent lives. We still do, but have come to terms with our differences and have come to depend on each other as time goes on, giving thanks for decent health and a love of books, movies and talking with each other early in the morning. We both like to think about things.

So much in life is luck, I think. You don’t realize you are balancing on a tightrope: you think you’re safe and on flat ground, until something upends you. We lost a baby many years ago,and soon after our marriage both fathers died suddenly. The suddenness was what still surprises me. I was so absolutely (fill in the blank): innocent, stupid, unthinking. I had no idea when I heard the phrase: “the inherent sadness of life”, that death and death of loved ones looms. Oh, so that’s the secret! That’s what it’s all about? I still have trouble realizing that I am one step away….for example (if my bike tips over, or I fall,) from a walker. Don’t be so cocky, I say to myself. Just enjoy your present good fortune and give thanks.

What makes me very happy though is connections to others….husband.my kids, grandkids, friends. I’m an only child, spoiled rotten by two devoted parents. So lucky, but also very ill equipped to handle obstacles in life…..like house cleaning!
Doesn’t that seem crazy? I never had to do “chores”, growing up. I sent my soiled clothes from college home to have them washed, pressed and returned! (That was really before washing machines were available at college, I do believe though.) Fortunately, I have learned a little, I like to make things pretty and that way I seem to force myself to do unpleasant tasks, with the “pretty” in mind.

I did accidentally get a neat job….as a radio announcer for a classical music station……and became, in a small way, sort of famous (briefly) with picture on billboards etc. It was good for my ego, which needed some help at that time in my life, and brought me into a community of supportive music lovers. My Mother was dying (again, I didn’t realize the end was coming…..is that stupid, or what?) and I was arranging round the clock nurses, thinking she would recover. The job helped with the pain, but I feel guilt that I kept the job as this all was happening. But I was so so stupid. I still don’t understand why I didn’t realize my Mother’s death wasn’t far away. If I could relive that time of my life, I’d give anything to do it, and better.

Yes, if had my life to live over again, knowing things I now know, I would do many things differently. But even with my mistakes, it seems to have turned out pretty amazingly. I find I am always for the underdog, am a political junkie, want to change the world so that there aren’t so many wealthy people, and many more helped. A different and more equitable tax code for starters. My husband volunteers for Mobile Meals and his “clients” are so often isolated, impoverished and helpless to change their lives. I wish our society somehow could embrace and help these people better than it’s set up to do right now and try to do small things to effect that change.

Thanks for giving me a chance to think about the summing up of my life.

This entry was posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, Caretaking, Family matters, Grandparenting, Gratitude and Spirituality, Older women connecting, Resilience, Share your story, What do we do with our time? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Summing up a life

  1. Blog Mavens says:

    Nancy,
    You ask, “Can I be part of you all at my age?” and the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

    Your “summing up” is indeed inspirational, and will be appreciated by our 70Candles! Women, for you demonstrate ‘resilience,’ and beyond ‘luck, you have created the breadth and depth of your interesting life.

    Thank you for sharing this,
    Jane and Ellen

  2. Ellen says:

    And I, Ellen, want to add my personal two cents. THANK YOU for your beautiful story. I’ve now re-read it several times. What strikes me most is your confirmation of what women have told us over and over again–the meaningfulness of our connections with family and friends. My two favorite quotes these days are: “Other people matter” (Chris Peterson) and “Old is the most beautiful word in the English language” (I may have made that up myself). Warm wishes, Ellen

  3. Mary Lou says:

    Nancy, It’s such a joy to read of the vitality of those who have reached the 80 mark and still moving forward with hope and resilience. I’m turning 75 this month and here I am …….. feeling similar and enjoying the ride. Life is beautiful even with the struggles. 🙂 Thank you! Mary Lou
    https://meinthemiddlewrites.com/2017/02/10/me-in-the-middle-turning-75/

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