Two friends and I, one just a bit younger than my age of 73 and one who is 82, are going to begin to meet regularly to talk about challenges and opportunities and yes, joys of aging. Our first topic of conversation is going to be what difference the past decade has made in each of our lives.
For me, that means going from 63 to 73, from 2008 to 2018. Jerry died in 2002 when I was 56, and it took two more years to extricate myself completely from the financial planning business. They were a grueling two years, and I was in something of recovery mode — emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. I was in a new endeavor, executive coaching and consulting with senior leadership teams — working more or less full time but only on projects that interested me. That was a luxury of having sold the financial planning business and having wiggle room in terms of how much money I needed to earn. I was still living in Rochester, NY, with a mixed circle of single and couple friends and surrounded by very longtime and good neighbors. I was part of a number of social and professional groups, in a way that happens when you live in a community for over 30 years. I still had speaking gigs resulting from publication of my first book, How Much is Enough?, in 2002. Oddly enough I’d become highly popular as a keynote speaker and workshop leader on the Protestant stewardship circuit, which led to consulting gigs in individual churches. The work paid well, and these were people who cared about the moral and spiritual aspects of money — not just how to garner more of it — which was interesting to me.
The kids were independent and working in different cities, and they didn’t get back to Rochester much. I saw them when I traveled to where they lived, or when we all went to Maine to visit with Jerry’s family. Matt had met and fallen in love with Amy, and they were married that year in a wonderful family celebration in Maine. I became a mother-in-law. My mother hadn’t been a very good role model in that respect, and Jerry’s mother died the year before he and I met. I was pretty much on my own to devise how the role would work for me and for my new daughter-in-law.
I was still taking long distance group bike rides, the last one being from Bariloche, Argentina, into the Chilean Lake District — which meant going over the Andes Mountains.
My mother had died in 2007, which meant we three sisters were undergoing the kind of re-alignment in our relationships that happens when the last surviving parent is no longer there.
I was healthy, taking meds only for high cholesterol — mine spiked just after menopause in a way that my doctor said was likely genetic and not able to be reduced enough by exercise and diet. I wasn’t in another relationship, indeed hadn’t dated anyone at all since Jerry’s death in 2002. That was by choice, as I didn’t avail myself of any of the paths through which people in the their 60’s meet eligible partners. I always said I was open to another relationship, but studiously avoided doing anything to seek one out.
Tomorrow: what has changed over ten years.