Goodbye 70 Candles, Hello 80

Ellen, Age 80

I turned 80 18 days ago, on March 10, 2021, which means I have officially reached my ninth decade. No big deal, you say? I don’t think of myself as a particularly reflective person; I’m more of a doer—always busy, even during Covid, still employed, many projects. But there is something different about 80. Even in only 18 days, I think about death now…not my own, for some reason…but the death of my loved ones, my friends, and particularly my husband’s. He is also 80—a healthy and robust 80 year old who hikes and bikes and just finished writing a book about Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath. He talks about things like artificial intelligence and dark matter and the movement of the sun and moon—topics I consider more or less above my pay grade, but topics that suggest a very good brain. So why does my brain turn to his death now that I’m 80? Because I know the stats. Because I look around and see how many age-mates have lost their spouses. I swear I just about never, maybe never at all, thought about the possibility of widowhood until 18 days ago.
What else feels different now? It’s hard to separate what’s Covid/quarantine-related, and what’s age related, so for now I’ll leave it at that: the dread of losing my husband, of a life without the guy I laugh with every day. And what will I do about this? I will cherish the present and be grateful for what I have now; I will indulge in nostalgia; I will continue to plan for our future together. And I will laugh at myself. I just ordered Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying, by Sallie Tisdale, recommended by a psychologist pal who knows me well. And I’ll probably start a new research project on this new decade to see how others are doing!!

This entry was posted in 70candles, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Death and dying, Family matters, HUMOR, Looking ahead, Men aging, Nostalgia, Sad about aging, Widows’ choices and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Goodbye 70 Candles, Hello 80

  1. Evelyn Eskin says:

    Oh, Ellen, this resonated with me! I have had similar feelings in the 3 months since I turned 80. There is a sense of treasuring each bike ride together and a worry when he’s a little later coming home than I expected. I fret when I can’t do the side planks I used to do, and when I get short of breath while walking – is it really just the mask? But I try to put these things out of my mind and focus on the good days, the things and times we enjoy together, and remember that each day is precious to us at any age. Happy birthday, and enjoy your privileged, healthy life!!

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