When I worked in the newspaper industry, the obituary page was allegedly the paper’s most popular page, which, in my younger years, I found a little curious. Now I am — ahem — a little less young, I totally get it. These days I read my news online — the Monterey County Herald and The London Times to keep it even steven on both sides of the pond. I always look at the obituaries and find myself remarking in my own mind how young or old these folks were when they passed. I also look at the birthday portion of the paper for famous people.
“Oh good,” I say to just myself. “Look, she’s 10 years older than me and still out there working and doing and being a productive human.” Why that makes me feel better, I’m not sure; but it does.
My friends and I are all going to be 60 next year. There I said it. Six decades spent on this planet. Flew by like a comet race through the universe. I don’t look 60 — well, thank you — or do I — and I certainly don’t feel 60; until I put on my glasses that is and take a good long look in the mirror; then I do wonder what happened to the babe from the old photos and I am forced to question who is that wrinkly old thing in the blurry reflection with baggy eyes and a turkey neck.
My husband has been pretty much disabled for the last couple of years now and, fortunately, I have been pretty fine, so I have become accustomed to doing most of the physical work around here. Except, that is, until I hurt myself on the ranch a couple weeks ago and ended up with bruised ribs and a bashed-up knee, able to do very little. It was then that I got some real insight into what life is like when you can no longer do all the things you formerly took for granted.
Then life is difficult, and tasks can become burdensome. Things happen slowly or not at all, the usual standards are not maintained, because you simply cannot do it. It was then, during that period of mild disability, that I realized we can’t continue to live in this place if at least one of us is not physically fit and able. Lugging hay, dragging water pipes, climbing up and down into the pig pen, dragging more hoses, more feed … that was definitely food for thought.
Now I’m pretty much recovered and can resume my duties, I have been sobered by the reality check of age — it can stop you doing the things you formerly could and force you to make choices you’d rather not. Husband talks gainfully about making the property more manageable and getting it to the stage where it requires merely some simple maintenance, but he’s dreaming, bless him.
He doesn’t want to have to relocate, none of us do; and maybe we won’t have to if I manage to stay amazingly healthy going forward; but the last several days have perhaps given me the kick in the head I needed so that, when the difficult decision is staring us in the face, it won’t come as a surprise, but merely a plan that had been simmering on the back burner.
I have friends in similar predicaments. It is cheering that we will ultimately all face the same issues, and we are all the same age. Some have property like me; they will have relocation decisions and planning challenges the way I will.
Stepping aside from any gloom and doom, because let’s face it, 60 is the new 40, (or so I heard), my friends and I have all decided that our 60th year will be the year of our content, which means that we will make entirely selfish choices that are all about us, where possible, in celebration of our six decades on the planet, with over 3/4 of that time spent in each other’s company.
I asked my friend if she wanted to go to France for her 60th birthday. “Oh no,” she responded candidly. “I’m going to spend most of the year on the water — either foiling or windsurfing; you get the picture. I want to keep doing all those things that I love while I still can.”
I asked my other friend the same question. “I think I’ll be skiing on my actual birthday,” she said. Oh. “How about we go the following month?” Yes, can do. Looks like we will be doing just that. And then I told them about the year of my content. “On my actual 60th birthday, I am going to be in Turkey. I’m going to go and visit my sister’s family, her grave, her friends and all the places we loved to go together. I’m going to swim in the Med and celebrate my wonderful life and good fortune over there in Rosie’s home, where I know I will feel her all around. You are all most welcome to come. No pressure. I’ll give you my dates and itinerary.”
And there we had it. We, the girls of ’63, prematurely, purchased our 2023 diaries and started plugging in the dates for the year of our very own content. Where she is going, where they are going, where I am going — and I am sure there will be several crossovers all over the place when we find ourselves wanting to be a part of her content, also hers and mine.
Husband and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage during the year of my content, so we will also be plugging in two weeks in my hometown by the sea at the end of that special year, where there will be likely several babes from 1963 also popping in and raising glasses to one another in a communal space that we all adore.
There’s nothing wrong with a little selfish time for us old broads, after years of raising kids and families, working and pleasing others. I think the year of our content will be a very fabulous year, dotted with all kinds of fun and fodder for the memory bank.
It’s good to celebrate milestones in this life and put markers in the sand to herald special occasions. The babes of ’63 will be doing just that next year. So much so we are planning things well ahead of time — in my case, over a year before my actual birthday, and enjoying the heck out of all the dreaming in the months ahead that, all being well, will hopefully turn into solid plans.