“For me, there’s something so liberating about this stage of life. It’s not that you know more, necessarily; it’s that you accept not knowing and experience a different kind of ease.” Susan Sarandon, More Magazine, February 2002
People are staying healthy and living longer and the old stages of life no longer hold. According to some scientists, a woman who reaches age 52 today and remains free of cancer can expect to live to age 92. Best-selling author Gail Sheehy tells us, “People now have three adult lives to plan for; a provisional adulthood from 18 to 30; a first adulthood from about 30 to the mid-40s and a second adulthood from about 45 into the 80s.” She says that the key to mastering this passage is to do something people generally haven’t done before which is to plan for this second adulthood.
It’s heartening to know that other women have inspiring philosophical thoughts about aging. From reading and from personal experience I’ve come to realize there is a broad range of expectation, capability, and emotional experience in aging---what is true for one woman may not be true for another. The words of the women quoted below will give you an idea of the diversity of experiences and represent some of my favorites from a variety of authors on the various ages and stages of a woman’s life.
50-60 Years Old
“Old folks today are doing more than anyone ever thought they could. Why, when we were children, folks were knocking on death’s door after turning fifty. Sixty was ancient...” Sarah L. Delany, On My Own at 107 , HarperCollins, 1997
60-70 Years Old
“Sixty years bring with them the privilege of discernment and vision: a capacity to behold, in the blink of an eye, the sweeping panorama of a life fully lived.” Cathleen Rountree, On Women Turning 60: Embracing the Age of Fulfillment, (c) 1997, Harmony Books, NY
70-80 Years Old
“...when I think that I’m seventy-eight, I think--how could that be? I just don’t feel like whatever I would have thought seventy-eight would feel like. I just feel like myself.” Betty Friedan, Life So Far, Touchstone, NY (c) 2000
80-90 Years Old
“I am more and more aware of how important the framework is, what holds life together in a workable whole as one enters real old age, as I am doing. A body without bones would be a impossible mess, so a day without a steady routine would be disruptive and chaotic.” May Sarton, At Eighty: A Journal, W.W. Norton, (c) 1996
90-100+ Years Old
“I must tell you at once that I have become over ninety in the course of writing this book, and yes, being over ninety is different....I can say with all honesty, I’d rather be a very old woman than a very young one. ” Rebecca Latimer, You’re Not Old Until You’re Ninety, Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1997
“Somewhere along the line I made up my mind I’m going to live, Bessie. I guess I probably don’t have that much longer on this Earth, but I may as well make the best of it.” Sarah L. Delany, On My Own at 107, page 143, HarperCollins, 1997
Which quote do you relate to or like the best?