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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

Older, but not grown up

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When I was young, I sat at the "kid table" at family gatherings. We children were segregated in the basement family room, using piano benches and stools, seated at a card table.

The "grown ups" sat together in the dining room, around the "real" table.

I couldn't wait to sit at the "big" table.

My parents, at that time, were old - very, very old.

Thinking about my perceptions back then, I have to laugh.

Those "old" parents were about 35.

It's funny how "old" is a shifting target. When I was 9, it was 35. At 30, it's 50. At 50? Well, my parents are 76 and I don't think they're that old. My grandma, at 99? Well, I guess she's old.

I know that no one asks a real lady her age, but since my staff so considerately told the entire circulation of the Northwest Iowa Shopper my age on Saturday, that cat's out of the bag.

I'm 50.

I now qualify for AARP. I've sat at the "big people's table" longer than the kids table.

I've been married nearly as long as I was single. I've raised my son to adulthood. I graduated high school and college. I've passed many big milestones in my life.

At 20, new experiences were around every corner. With the naiveté of youth, I embraced them all.

At 40, I'd been burned a time or two. I had a child. I was more cautious, less open.

At 50?

Well, it takes more to amaze me than it did at 20. I have to look harder to find a new experience. I have to seek out adventure. And, I have to push through the cynicism that comes from seeing a lot of good and bad.

I used to joke that I would grow to be the mouthy old woman of the family, quick with a biting comment. I now remind myself often to listen more, talk less. That earlier joke was on its way to becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Age has brought the wisdom that listening well, and speaking less, is a key to happiness - in yourself and in your home.

I know you can still grow, still grow up, even as your years pile one on top of another.

And, despite the inclination to assume that I know best, I also understand I can still learn things - lots and lots of things.

I recall one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost, "A Road Less Taken." I've always been drawn to its imagery, and its message of seeking out a different path from the crowd. I used to lament that I didn't choose the less traveled road.

But I've come to realize his words don't have a timeline. You don't have to choose the path "less traveled by" at 17 or 25, or 37. And, I like to think that divergent fork in the road could still be in front of me.

Fifty isn't the "new 40, and I don't want it to be. At 50 I'm smarter, stronger, and happier than 40.

And, the path ahead looks to be filled with exciting twists and turns.


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Wonderful article---I am 68 so I can say a double ditto to most of the above!!!

-- Posted by iowagirl on Tue, Oct 30, 2012, at 10:44 AM


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Paula Buenger
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