Andrea's column: Redefining "old age"Earlier this week I celebrated my 65th birthday. My husband took the day off from work and went to a garden store right after breakfast. I had told him all I wanted for my big day was a big pot of bright pink begonias for the deck.
Earlier this week I celebrated my 65th birthday. My husband took the day off from work and went to a garden store right after breakfast. I had told him all I wanted for my big day was a big pot of bright pink begonias for the deck.
We have a lot of flowers out there already but there was one bare pot that I always saw when I looked up from washing the dishes or slicing vegetables. It needed a burst of color and my husband was happy to fulfill my request.
After the garden center, he went to the local food co-op to pick up lunch — egg salad from the deli department and rosemary and olive oil gluten-free crackers — something to eat while we watched a rerun of The Closer.
Later that day, my husband drove to Saint Paul to watch one of our grandchildren play baseball. He left the game early, though, so he could get home to watch a new episode of the same TV show. Since we were still celebrating the day I was born, we had cheese and crackers (red wine, too) while we watched deputy chief Brenda Leigh Johnson and her crew solve a case.
In between meals, friends and family members called to offer congratulations on my milestone occasion. During one conversation a friend mentioned Jane Fonda’s book, Prime Time. She went on to tell me Fonda wrote about life being in chapters; that we are in the third which covers the years between 50 and 75.
I looked up that description on the Internet. Fonda isn’t the only one to write about this. Sociologist Sara Gordon-Lightfoot wrote an entire book on the subject, The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50. Amazon.com sums up the author’s work with, “new opportunities for creativity and self-fulfillment await men and women between the ages of 50 and 75.”
One review for Gordon-Lightfoot’s says it is “a biography of the new lifestage emerging between the end of the middle years and the arrival of old age.” Another says it is about redefining our lives in the “post-career” years.
Being in this third chapter means I am old enough to remember the days when a 65th birthday meant a worker — bank president, welder or secretary — faced mandatory retirement. The old heave-ho. Clean out your desk, collect your gold watch if you’re lucky and be put out to pasture.
Many of the men I worked with in the car business didn’t know what to do with themselves when they retired. Some passed away not long after. It’s too bad they didn’t know about this third chapter angle.
Now that I know about it, my first step will be to read the two books I mentioned. Passion, risk, adventure? I’m game. Stay tuned: Egg salad and a television rerun might be too tame for this old girl next year.