"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: longevity

longevity. . .

Wikipedia ginkgo leaf photo

Before Christmas and the visits with my children and granddaughters, I found that I had been moping around about aging and fatalistic about how long I would live and what I might do with the time I have left. The culture we live in bombards us with how to stay young, how to look and feel better, exercise, eat more healthy foods. But not much is said about the quality of our lives in the context of purpose, as we go from our 60’s to being 70. And then from 70 on to 80. And, if you’re lucky, I guess, even beyond that.

I had made a book for my family that contained a number of my posts describing my life along with photos of the family that I gave to them on my birthday, which comes a few days after Christmas every year. I had in mind that it was especially meant for my granddaughters, Anna and Josie because they will have a chance to know me, as Read the rest of this entry »


‘autumn of our years’ . . .

I’ve been hearing lately that “40 is the new 30!”, “60 is the new 40!” We seem to be healthier and staying viable for (much) longer than our parents’ generation. What is the new 70, the “new 55?” or renegotiate at 80? Then there’s U.S. News and World Report’s special edition of “How to live to be 100”!! So when a comment for ‘Uncommon Hours’ talks about the ‘autumn of our years’ when the kids are grown and have left home, our parents have passed on and now we are free to live (finally) for ourselves, when is that exactly? And how long will it last before winter sets in?

Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, especially in New England. In fact, it’s my personal favorite time–memories of getting ready for school to start, the beauty of leaves changing color in October, crisp morning air, picking apples and heating up cider with cinnamon and nutmeg. Winter doesn’t have to be cold and lonely either. At least, that’s not my plan.

I think of winter as one of my favorite times, having cozy breakfasts while the snow falls outside my window. Tea set out in the afternoon and maybe a cookie or two. Roasts in the oven with grilled vegetables, apple pie and ice cream for dessert. What I mean to say is that we may want to hold on to Autumn for awhile because we’re afraid what being older will mean, edging into the winter of our years. Every season has its virtues, so that one will too. It occurred to me that if we still have two seasons left, that’s still almost half of our lives to go, right?

“life is long” . . .

thankful every day

“Life is long”. . . a woman speaker told us at one of the Wednesday morning assemblies when I was a scholarship student at Smith College in the ’60′s. She talked about how important this idea was because as women, we might have to put the care of others ahead of ourselves. And that there might still be a chance to do something or be something that was really important to us. Later on.

It was a turbulent time. Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and others sang to protest the Vietnam War. Women’s Lib was at its peak, American astronauts walked on the moon, and the Beatles rocked everyone, singing “I Want to Hold Your H-A-N-D…” Being somewhat shy, I was too naïve to know what I really wanted out of life, never mind whether life was short, or whether it was long.

My first marriage lasted for over a quarter of a century and the best thing that came out of it was our children. The one thing we did well together was raising them to be independent, to be curious and to give them experiences and tools to find their way in life.

Preferences in the way he and I wanted to live were in stark contrast to each other: he wanted to travel the world and live in exotic cultures–the Wanderer. All I wanted to do was to be at home. In my own home in comfort of my own making: to read, play the piano, knit, cook meals, listen to music. We couldn’t have been farther apart in terms of what we each wanted to do at the middle-aged period in our lives.

The divorce was lengthy and painful, lots of to- and fro-ing. Worries about finances. I moved three times in two years, including cleaning out the Victorian house that our children grew up in for twenty-two years, virtually by myself. The first week in my new apartment, the family dog slipped out from the back yard, even though the iron gates looked secure. When I searched but could not find her, I found solace in the I-Ching reading which said, “peace.” I figured that either I should chill out because she would turn up, or that she was already at peace. The next morning, the phone rang and a dog Samaritan said she found Bridget on the causeway in the next town. Two degrees  of separation, the Vet’s number on Bridget’s rabies tag and my new phone number left with the Vet during the move coincided to reunite us once again. I didn’t have a job at the time, although by then, I had worked for seven years in a biotech start-up and had a track record for making decent money. Three months later, I got a call that led me to a new biotech start-up company sixty miles away.

The movers, in their haste, forgot to tighten the lyre on my Steinway grand piano. I looked in the phone book for someone specializing in Steinways to come and take care of it. That person turned out to be my future husband. We were friends for four years when we decided to marry. This year, we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and have been together now for almost twenty years. I never thought this might happen during the turbulent unsettled time in my life.

We are both pianists, grateful that we are together to share our lives. Whenever I say that I should have left my first marriage earlier given all the trials and tribulations, my husband quickly disagrees. He feels that had even one thing been different in our pasts, we might not have met each other at all. Timing is everything, it seems, even if it takes awhile.

As a postscript, my ex-husband married within a year of our divorce being finalized. He and his wife travel and live all over the world. All’s well that ends well, it seems.

That’s how I came to understand what I heard when life was still innocent and full of promise, “Life is long.”