Sunday, March 1, 2009

Threescore and Ten

I remember when I was a kid, and I would say to someone, "I'll [fill in the blank] for the rest of my life!" That connoted endlessness, in other words, "for the rest of my life" was considered to be forever. And it is, actually, since when one's life ends, forever ends too. Doesn't it?

As I got older, I realized that the phrase is not endless; I learned that the considered span of an average life is "threescore and ten" (70 years). Well, now that I'm 66, that's right around the corner! Does "the rest of my life" means four more years? Since that is an average, I assume now that I'm older it doesn't apply to me. I don't use the phrase "the rest of my life" any more, because I'm quickly entering into the era where anything after the next four years is gravy, not to be expected.

Today, I read that Paul Harvey died at the age of 90. I remember hearing him on the radio decades ago (not that I was a fan, but he did come on the strongest radio signal in Texas when I was living there in the 1960s), so I would hear him at noon. He told a narrative every day he called "The Rest of the Story" that would tell of somebody's situation, and at the end he would add a twist that made me remember the story for a long time. He signed a contract for ten years with a radio station at the age of 82 -- and he almost made it to the end. I guess for him it was his wife who died the year before that sort of took the joy of living with her. Funny how often I read about long-time couples dying within a year of each other. He also lived two decades longer than "average."

I can understand it a lot better now, because I have a partner who shares most of my day with me, and although we live very different lives, it's the sharing of our lives that gives a level of meaning to it that really adds flavor and significance to my daily life. I read this paragraph last night in my latest book by Jhumpa Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth):
As my parents approached their old age, she and my father had grown fond of each other, out of habit if nothing else. I believe my absence from the house, once I left for college, had something to do with this, because over the years, when I visited, I noticed a warmth between my parents that had not been there before, a quiet teasing, a solidarity, a concern when one of them fell ill.
This is written from the point of view of the daughter of a Bengali arranged marriage of two people very different from one other who moved to the United States and made a life together. I thought of my own partner, who is so different from me that it strained credibility that we would be together, much less happily together. He is on the far end of the Bell curve of introversion, and I am on the other end of extroversion. His car is neat as a pin, with nothing in the back seat or the trunk. I use my car as my extended backpack, which is also none too neat. I go to bed early; he goes to bed late.

But what he does have is the ability to analyze and examine in detail, and our conversations often go on for hours as we take stock of assumptions and discuss our differences. I think we have helped to enlarge the other's life in ways someone who is more similar in approach would be unable to accomplish. We are a good complement to one another.

As I age, I am finding it easier to let go of things I thought were part of me: sexual attractiveness, well-toned arms, a firm chin. I watch myself in the mirror as I work out (along with the other dozens of people of all ages and sizes) at the Y, and I think I look pretty good for my age. But that's the difference: now I add those last three words in my mind: for my age.


  1. and there you have it..."for our age". Yes, you do look very good for your age and you can be proud of that. The results are great but I suppose what you can be more proud of is the fact that you take the trouble to do it. Well done! My problem is that when I look in the mirror, I don't see what I think is me. In my mind I look different and better. Perhaps I should get rid of the mirrors in the house? I have noticed that the mirrors have been getting smaller, as I have aged!
    Blessings, Star

  2. I just posted a comment on your latest picture, and then I came here and discovered your comment! I guess I should subscribe to my comments thread, I'll do that now.

    Getting older has benefits, not the least of which is that you get to retire (usually, anyway) and we moved away from our home town, which helped immensely. I also notice that there must be some internal mechanism that allows you to let go if you become willing. And what is more poignant than some older woman dressing (and acting) twenty or thirty years younger than she is??

  3. Hello, I am writing this in response to your comment left on my blog about today's posting about Paul Harvey.
    I just love this post ! I feel as if you hvae taken the words right out of my mouth, we are akin, in our relationships with our husbands/partners, and in our personalities...
    I smiled throughtout the entire read;)


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