Staying Young While Growing Older -by Jane Everham

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I have a confession to make. At the age of 16, my two best friends and I made a pact – when we turned 65, no matter where we were, we would come together and . . . commit suicide.After all, we reasoned, life would be over if we indeed did reach that ancient age of 65. At sixteen, we were fully into

drama, writing morose (and bad) poetry, nurturing dark thoughts, and conjuring such nonsense as a “suicide pact.”

Well, age 65 passed a few years ago, and I am happy to report not only are we still here (we called off the pact), but we are active, engaged, and leading vibrant lives. We’ve slowed down some by retiring but are now almost as busy in the world of volunteering.

Twice in the last month I have thanked two friends for revealing that they were 75 while not looking nor acting a day over 60. I was inspired by them. I am active and busy and loving life, but my joints ache some, my short-term memory takes unannounced vacations (without me), and I do worry that “old” will arrive soon. Knowing that folks older than I are still going strong is a relief. In fact, I just had lunch with a 93-year-old spitfire. She admits she didn’t take care of her body as she should have, and declining physicality is a hinderance now, but her mind is fully intact, still brewing with thoughts; she keeps me on my toes by challenging my thinking with probing questions and encouraging my many endeavors.

I’ve always heard that old age is not for sissies, but the last of the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers are really pushing the bar up and away when old age arrives. I used to joke that I would live to be 104, whether I wanted to or not. The fantasy of relaxing in a rocker on my front porch watching life go by had some appeal in middle age. Not any more. Life is too precious— so many interesting people to know, books to read, podcasts to hear. There are opportunities to serve, to give back for all the blessings I have received. Life is fragile, and no one knows when the end will come. My life has not been perfect, and I would redo some things if I could, but overall, I have no regrets. I will take what I am given but would really like to “die alive,” giving at least a small kick “for more” regardless of my age.

 
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Jane  grew up in the Chicago suburbs in the 50's and 60's. She moved to Colorado to attend Denver University. . After earning an Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology at UNC, she worked for 34 years in the public schools in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Fort Collins. After retirement in 2011, she has spent her time volunteering with the Larimer League of Women Voters, Foothills Unitarian Church, and progressive politics. She loves to have lunch with friends, reads voraciously, and travels.