I'm still not sure I want to write this. I'm not sure what I want to say; or even what I think.
I recently had my 60th birthday - the "Big Six-Oh". When I turned 40, I told myself that I was aging as a good brandy does: mellowing, improving with age. It helped that I got married again that same year; nothing like a good love affair to give one confidence! I suppose I can still say that, but there's less confidence behind it. And yet: I don't look 60. My hair isn't gray (just the occasional silver thread; I get that from Dad's side of the family). My face isn't especially wrinkled (lots of expensive moisturizer, religiously used!). Since my first knee replacement, I've exercised regularly; I haven't been in shape this good for years (still overweight, though). I don't think I act 60, whatever that means. Why am I so unsettled?
I look at people and wonder how old they are - and I suddenly realize they may be younger than me. This is very unsettling. I was the oldest child of the youngest son of a large family, so I was usually the youngest person in the room (except my sister); I skipped the first grade because I could read, so I was always the youngest person in the class. I'm used to thinking of myself as the youngest person - although the last few years working with 20 and 30 something computer kids has gone some way toward curing me of that! How did I get to be older than so many people?
What have I done with the time? I didn't have children; too late for that now. Not for me the thousands of dollars and months of discomfort, trying desperately to beat the biological clock. It was already too late with my second marriage, I didn't want to have a teenager in my fifties. That means, whatever happens at the end, it's up to me to cope. Not having children seemed like the right decision at the time; these decisions always seem right at the time. One doesn't always see through to the end; maybe one gets through by deliberately not seeing through to the end. I took care of my mother in her last years; who will take care of me? My husband is eight years younger than I am; does that mean he'll be around to do it? Is that fair to him? And anyway, just having kids doesn't mean they'll take care of you when you're old.
I've had two careers; I've done the best I could at them, still working on the second one. People tell me they think I'm good at what I do. I've recently gone back to singing, and I know I'm good at that - not solo quality because of the asthma, but a good solid choral singer, able to hold the part and keep the beat, and anchor weaker singers. I'm beginning to think perhaps I can write. I don't feel I've made a difference; the world isn't necessarily a better place because of what I've done. On the other hand, I don't think it's a worse place. Maybe that's enough. But what do I do next? When I retire (and when do I retire?), then what? I don't have an answer yet.
The time - where does it go? The older you get, the faster it goes by; I don't think anyone under 50 really understands the lyrics to Harry Belafonte's "Turn Around", or to "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof. I just turned around and it's May; wasn't it January yesterday? Where did it go? And the the less you have left, the faster it goes. We only get so much. No matter how you measure it, more than half of mine is gone. Now what?
"But, Mother of God, where are they then? And where are the snows of yesteryear?" Francois Villon, 15th century.