I think when you experience death at an early age, it profoundly changes your perspective on aging.
When I was newly married, starting a new career, and in the final semester of my master’s program, I came home one night from class to find my husband waiting for me in our garage. My family was in our small condo, but he’d wanted me to hear it alone, from him. “Your father died.”
He was 54.
In my mid-20s, I still believed moms and dads lived forever. I was just getting to know him as an adult. He wasn’t supposed to die.
He wouldn’t be there to see me graduate – the first to get a masters degree. He wouldn’t be there to meet his grandchild. He wouldn’t see me grow and change. It all came to a screeching halt.
And suddenly, all of my questions changed. Because I suddenly had an end date. What if MY life was over at 54?
He’d died of a massive heart attack. So of course, I went looking for an explanation.
And very slowly, the new me started emerging.
This year, I’ll celebrate my 54th birthday. I write about it quite frequently.
Am I obsessed with the date? Maybe. It’s difficult to not think about age as it inches closer each year.
But I’m different – oh, so different. In so many ways.
Because back then, you didn’t question. You just did.
He ate steak and potatoes because that’s what he liked. He’d spent half a lifetime smoking … just because. Exercise? Nope, he didn’t do a lot of that either.
But through reading and researching, I knew there was a “cure” for heart disease. I’d found it over and over again. In the books I read. On the websites I visited. In the classes I took.
And I took all the information to heart. Quite literally.
Aging – we do it every second of every day of our lives. I can’t wish it away – and why would I? Aging is by far the most wonderful, thrilling, and adventurous thing I do. Its created me … ME! Exactly who I am right here, today.
Gracefully – to do so in the most elegant and dignified way. I can think of many times I fell down and couldn’t get up. I can remember the worst days of my life. But even at my worst, I was creating me. I was creating my own character – I was developing every aspect of me. To live every day to the best of my ability.
Every second of every day for the past 54 years, I’ve been a work at progress.
I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t been born to a newly married couple who landed in Colorado as a part of my father’s military career.
I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t lived a middle-class life in a middle-class suburb, going to a middle-class school.
I wouldn’t be me if my mother hadn’t pushed me to go for the degree.
I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t won that award, or chosen that job, or made that friend, or said yes to that trip, or fallen down the stairs at that exact moment, or bought that particular dress, or moved to that house, or eaten that exact meal, or become a vegetarian, or started that business, or sold that website, or jumped on that particular train, or moved to that location …
All of it – every last second – had made me ME!
There is absolutely no one else like me. A puzzle that’s slowly taken form.
That’s why everything I do today is so powerful. Why my passion, my desires, my business, my writing – it’s all built on what I’ve learned, including from my father, not so long ago.
Aging gracefully. Each piece has its place. Without the one before it, the one today wouldn’t have the same meaning.
Each piece has helped me be my best. To live strong. To learn. To thrive.
And only then will I have the opportunity to turn it all around and share it. With a friend. With a reader. With a total stranger.
To impact everyone I touch.
Just imagine what this world could be.
I love reading stories about real women as they age and move into their
40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond. I wrote this as a response to an article
I recently read on Aging Gracefully … this is my response. What’s yours?