May 5 – Age Is Only a Number?

by Laura Strathman Hulka

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

Today I turn sixty. Six-O. For some reason, in our society, the “0” birthdays (with, perhaps, the exception of 18 and 21) are the biggies. I vaguely remember 30 – I had two toddlers, so wasn’t too interested in tracking my life through age! 40, yeah, that was sort of a big deal. To me the top of “that” hill we all talk about going over. 50. Hmmm. No, not really a big deal, but a lot was going on in my life at 50, 51… first grandchild, born when I was 49. My mother moving in with us. Major surgery (total knee replacement, x 2) my husband’s bout with Prostate Cancer. I didn’t care about turning 50 as a number – was more concerned about SURVIVING 50!

Now I am turning 60. My children and grandchildren see me as “old.” I don’t remember thinking about my mother that way when she was 60 – my mother always seemed vivid and vital and alive. I thought when I turned 60, my life would be mellow, laid back, easier… NOT! There have been great changes in my life in the last 5 years. A major move back to my home-state, my own struggle with Endometrial Cancer. I have always been aware of human frailty, and my own mortality. I really believed that Mark Twain was right about age.

So what is different in this day? Is the sky any less blue? My love for my husband of 38 years any less true? No, of course not. Life is a lot harder than I expected it to be; less money, mediocre health, fewer contacts with my grown children… And yet, somehow, Life is a lot easier than I expected it to be as well; fewer highs and lows, more dedication to hobbies and activities I enjoy, greater enthusiasm for each dawn, and each sunset.

I have learned to embrace the cliches – roll with the punches, not to let the little things bother me, to forgive and, hopefully forget, to sing in the rain and dance (at least metaphorically) with the fairies in the garden. I have learned to appreciate the friends that have stuck with me on this journey, and let go of the friends that couldn’t grow old with me. I have learned that perhaps my greatest gift to myself, and to others, is the ability to laugh at the good, the bad, and the ugly.I am a rather curious person.I like finding out about new things, meeting new people, exploring new ideas.

And I have discovered that there is richness in 60… from the gentle touch of lavender in my garden, with its wafting scent, to a smile from my husband, for no reason at all except because. Happy Birthday to Me!

Laura describes herself: “In a nutshell: Curious, funny, reader, writer, Momma, Nana, happily married 38 years, baker, crafter, volunteer, pacifist, spiritual feminist, Rubenesque! Life’s an adventure!”

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11 responses to “May 5 – Age Is Only a Number?

  1. Laura, I’m nearing that next one in a couple of years. Sixty begins a great decade. Happy Birthday, welcome, and enjoy!

  2. Hey Laura- you once said that you’re a reader, not a writer- this is beautiful!! You’ve proven yourself wrong. Thanks so much for sharing, you’re an amazing lady…

  3. Welcome to ‘my’ decade, Laura. It’s one of life’s best kept secrets. I find each year past 60 is better and better. Well, as you say, the physical needs its tweeks, opportunities to increase income can be less available – but it’s great and I look forward to more of your reflections on the process as the illusion of] time goes by. Your grandchildren are very lucky to have a nana of such richness.

  4. Pamela Parker

    Laura; I agree you are quite the writer; not just a reader. I can only hope that I can put into words my journey at 60 that you have written today. Beautiful and thank you so very much for letting us into your heart, life and soul.

  5. Thank you! You are the sisters of my heart. I should have mentioned how lucky I am to be involved with SCN and SCBR!

  6. Thank you! You are the sisters of my mind! I should have mentioned how lucky I am to be involved with SCN and SCBR!

  7. Next year I’ll turn 50 and it don’t mean a thing. Other than my environment being less than what I hoped for, my mind and heart are as young as ever. This whole age thing confuses me I guess. People joke and tease about getting “old”, but it really is a state of mind. That ‘s not to say you can’t be mature and still have a youthful mindset. I rate “old” jokes with battle of the sexes humor. People will believe the damnedest things. Life is to be celebrated, without all these mile markers. Happy Birthday Wench!

  8. Diana Waldman

    Happy Birthday, Lo!!!!!! Yep, we know stuff, don’t we?

  9. Happy Birthday Laura — you took the words right out of my mouth, and made them better!

  10. Follette Buzzelle

    Happy birthday! I love you Lala. You are forever always my sister at heart and oldest friend. Wish we lived closer to share time as it marches by. On my retirement list of things I’m going to do, spending time together is right at the top!

  11. Enjoyed reading your piece. I’m reading Anna Quindlen’s memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake which I recommend. She just turned 60 as well.
    Fran S

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