71 – Looking for a purpose

Barb, Age 71

Looking at many web sites re women and aging. Just found yours. Maybe some insight will follow.

My story is probably similar to some. Born the first of 3 children in 1947. I was the pretty child. Not the sharpest in the box but attractiveness was important to my Mom and her family. Became a registered nurse, married the love of my life and had 2 sons. Stayed home for 6 years when my boys were babies and then went back to nursing. Started taking Intensive Care and Cardiac care courses so that I could work in ICU/CCU. Eventually became a permanent charge nurse in ICU. Enjoyed my job. Loved being a Mom and wife. Very involved with my boys, their hockey, their school, cubs etc. Also took extra courses for work. Constantly upgrading my skills and knowledge.

Long story short, my husband died at 55 from cancer, boys grew up, married, have children. Two years later, severely damaged my spine downhill skiing and could no longer work. Remarried 3 years later. And then went through a horrid breakdown. Thought that my life was over as my career was over, my boys were raised and really did not need me, and my first husband was gone. My reasons for living were gone. And, I had completed my goals of getting married, having children, being a nurse. I was done and why was I still here?

I turned 71 this year. Some days are difficult but I have had a lot of help mentally and physically. Feeling lost, drifting, the invisible senior does get to me some days. I attempt to golf, yoga, walking, beading, sewing, reading. Active with my grandchildren. Love them unconditionally. But no longer queen bee as their parents are, especially Moms. It should be that way. Maybe a daughter would have made it easier.

Always looking for a purpose, something meaningful. My current husband has been ill off and on since marriage. He has cancer and heart issues.

Sorry if this sounds like a downer but looking for answers, opinions and ideas.

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7 Responses to 71 – Looking for a purpose

  1. Hi Barb,

    I will turn 71 in January. So we are about the same age. I have been a professional with a few career changes – PhD chemist Mom for 7 years, part time professor, economic development manager and finally running my dream chocolate business in 2 countries. Always following my husband…

    Children grew up and moved out far in the US. After selling my business for a good sum, I followed husband to Mexico, where I did not work for 2 years. Now back to the US, and trying to grasp reality: I am a Gypsy.

    Here is what I want to do: an online occupation. So I am not tied down to the locations. Still researching. Cancer hit my family a year ago. Caretaking just made the mobile occupation case stronger for me.

    While researching opportunities, I found one attractive one: building a local and online community for caretaker women. Cancer strikes you: feeling alone, isolated and not getting quickly enough the nutritional, medical and emotional support made me think: wish I was retired nurse or nutritionist or counselor.

    You are a former nurse. You write quite well. I would go to the local hospital, and ask if they have a one-on-one or group support for the caretaker. In the discussion, you might see what need needs to be fulfilled.

    First I would offer my “services” at a nominal fee, then via testimonials increase it later. But the best thing is to create a purpose in life! Opens your social life, and feels really good!

    I am working on my concept, which will be a bit different, as I am more of a social extrovert, who LOVES people. I will be open about my website, when I finish it. I think I found my purpose. Toom me 2 years!

    Give it as much time as you need. Share the idea when you meet someone in the medical waiting room. You won’t believe, how many people like it!

    Wish you to find your purpose. If you want to talk, send an email to me – maybe our lovely organizers allow that?


  2. Go to your local Senior Center. Eat lunch with agemates. Talk. Dance.

    Come spring, plant flowers…

    Write your autobiography. Involve your grandchildren in the technical aspects….. that might hook them (her, him) into knowing you are not a dinosaur after all.

    Take a Road Scholar trip. Take your husband along…. or go with a girlfriend.


  3. Bob Coulson says:

    Welcome to Elderhood!
    Congratulations on raising successful families and kudos for being a faithful caregiver. Your passions are your purpose. Now is the time to explore and do your life review, repair and reframe and prep an intentional legacy…move from aging to Sage-ing.
    Google Franklin Covey mission builder and create basic statements, Google Sage-ing International, and Expert Called You. The book Caregiver for the Genius is a good resource too. Pursue wisdom, wellness and wholeness to live your good, better and best life, regardless of circumstances. I hope these are helpful in your journey.

  4. Jean, Age 77

    Your story could have been written by me. I was going to college for nursing. My mother in law owned a real estate business and I went into that profession. My husband died from cancer at the age of 40. I remarried a few years later, but continued working until the age of 65. Volunteer work, church, exercise and grand parenting is what I have done. My husband was diagnosed with a serious cancer situation two years ago and that has changed our lives, also I lost my twin sister.

    My grandchildren are older now and I did feel so alone. Everything in my prior life has changed. It was a very dark period in my life, with no real purpose. I just decided that the only redeeming solution was to accept my situation and get on to my life. I have reached out to my kids, my yoga and exercising friends. I have to keep myself happy and positive. We never had to struggle like this in our younger years, but now we do. We are in a situation where it is up to us to find some purpose. Never did I think this was such a challenge.

  5. Today’s Thanksgiving and I needed to read all these ‘feet planted firmly on the ground’ comments. Yes, this is elderhood with lots of changes and sadness in letting go. Also lots to be grateful for. Each of us has something that lifts us up or brings us down. Feel the joy and feel the sadness. It’s life!

  6. Barb, something that has helped me throughout my life is Merlin’s advice to King Arthur when he was depressed after Guinevere left him for Lancelot: he said, “Study something.” I always found there is healing and a sense of continuum in studying something and it becomes more and more meaningful the more you study.

  7. Barb,
    I think so many of us in our seventies are looking for a renewed purpose after a lifetime of giving to others in our careers and as parents. We represent a huge, pretty untapped amalgam of wisdom, specialized knowledge, empathy, and love. With so many local, regional and worldwide problems, where can we find our calling?

    Is there a group you belong to that you can start with to brainstorm? Is there a particular local problem that bothers you that you have some ideas to fix? Could you contact the mayor of your town and ask her (or him) to set up an idea group? Do you have some younger friends or relatives to discuss this with?

    Take one small step and let us all know what happens.

    I am meeting with one of my church’s leaders in January to discuss expanding our mission work. Have no idea where this is going to lead, but it is my one small step!

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