A few weeks ago my mother turned 90 years young. Amazing that you spend your whole life with someone, and you don’t realize that time is ticking away. One day you wake up, and you’re celebrating a life that has truly been lived.
My father passed away, after 43 years of marriage, and when my mom was 66. They had just begun to make plans. Plans to travel. Plans to play. They had moved to the Oregon coast so my dad, a long time charter fisherman, could be a deckhand on a boat. He died of a heart attack on that boat a few years later.
Some people would have been tempted to hang it up and get through the next years alone—putting aside the things they planned. Mom didn’t get that memo—she did everything but that. She moved back closer to my sister and I, and learned to ballroom dance at 70. She met and married a wonderful man, Wally, and they began to travel. Washington D.C., the Caribbean, Tahiti, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska. It seemed they were always off on some cruise, some adventure.
We lost Wally seven years ago. Mom was 83. And again, many people would have stopped making plans. But my mother did not. She joined a senior singing group that she still belongs to. They practice every Monday, and sing at retirement homes every Thursday. She hosts Bunko twice a month. She gambles every other week. And she married Bob.
One of the many things I admire about my mother is her ability to reinvent herself. When you look at her, you wouldn’t suspect this ability to not only survive, but to thrive, resides inside her. She has a quiet determination that doesn’t generally get expressed in words. But she lives it. Defining life in her way, and no one else’s. The lesson I take from this is that moving, learning, creating, living—it is always a choice. One that may need to be made more than once or twice in a lifetime. But a choice only we have the power to make.
I remind myself of this as I begin my new re-adventure in writing. I am surrounded by a lot of youth in the writing industry, and wonder if at 51 if I am relevant. If my choice to create is going to be embraced. Reigniting this dream takes a little determination, but I think of those who found themselves later in life—Betty White, Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Gardner—just to name a few. And my Mom.
I asked her recently if she felt her age. She said that she still feels the same as she did when she was a young girl. Only the reflection has changed.
So my question to you is: What is it that you have always wanted to do, but thought it was too late?
P.S. The picture is of my beautiful Mom and her husband, Bob. We were out on the Mt. Hood Railway taking in the sites of Hood River, Oregon.