On Turning 60 Part I…


I turned 60 years old this month. I’m having a hard time getting my brain around this. How the heck did I get here? I was just 40 about a month and a half ago. I still remember puberty, but now require my Waze app to go places I’ve been dozens of times.

A colleague referred to me as “middle age” this week. If I am middle age, then I can expect to live to 120. I’m not middle age. My daughter just turned 40. She is middle age, my son is not far behind her. I have a middle aged child, and I still feel I need to mother and give advice when she asks. Sometimes I ask myself “given all the troubles you have gone through in life, how can you dare give advice?” But, those troubles qualify me to dare. One can’t really give advice to someone if one lacks the experience. I have 40 + years in the work force, raising kids, domestic conflict, and driving in traffic. My areas of expertise include making a meal from whatever is in the pantry, over-analyzing everything, and the difference between a freckle and a future melanoma.

I have grandchildren. I am a grandmother. The very word “grandmother” indicates I am no longer middle age. I have gray hair. I stopped coloring it during Covid. Some days my silver locks say “natural free spirit,” some days they say “just old.”

My beloved Charles sat down on the hearth one day last month, his daily ritual when putting on his socks and shoes. “So…” he said, which generally means he’s going to ask me a question that he’s been pondering for a bit and isn’t quite sure how I will take it. I looked up from what I was doing… cooking something… and waited for the question.

“I need some advice,” he said. “You are turning 60 in a few weeks. How do you see that going? How do you want to celebrate that?”

“We are going to Ireland,” I said. “That was my request for my 60th birthday.”

“I understand,” he replied. “But that isn’t until May. Do you want a party, do you want to go somewhere?” I honestly did not know how to answer him. I’m happy just having a day to putter around.

In the end, he made a decision and executed. He did a fine job. He likes surprising me and he did it without being all weird and stuff so I would get suspicious. A small hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant filled with friends and family. Perfect.

Besides, I wasn’t exactly excited about adding a year to my age. I found myself brooding about it. I asked myself what was different about being 60 versus the other younger milestone ages? There are more aches and pains at this age than ever before, for sure. The sore body I got in my 30s the morning after a two hour workout at the gym, I can experience now by simply planting a row of tomatoes. My hip hurts because there was apparently a crease on the fitted sheet. Things don’t bend the way they once did. Freckles turn into moles while I sleep. I am happy about having nothing exciting to do, and going to bed at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night.

A few weeks ago Charles was in his workshop fixing something and I was in the yard planting something, in other words a typical Saturday. He said he needed to go to Home Depot to get a part for whatever he was fixing and asked if I wanted to join him. I needed a few more bags of soil, so I went along.

Catching a glimpse of him as he climbed into his truck, I thought “should I suggest he change clothes before we go?” He was wearing long red mesh basketball shorts with welding holes in them, a neon green t-shirt that was covered in something brown, and his knee high rubber work boots. He was dressed like a 5 year old boy who is allowed to dress himself. All he needed to complete the outfit was his BB gun. I giggled and decided it wasn’t important.

We arrived at the store and I caught my reflection in the window. I looked behind me to make sure I wasn’t seeing someone else. But no, it was me. I was wearing a tan freebie hat with the logo of a failed marking campaign of the company I work for, a royal blue t-shirt with a giant sunflower on the front, light blue cargo shorts that are two sizes too large, and my flowered rubber garden boots. I was dressed like a 5 year old girl who is allowed to dress herself. All I needed to complete the outfit was a necklace of dandelions. Why didn’t he say something before we left the house?

And so I come to grips with this part of 60: Me and the love of my life, dressed like 5 year olds, shopping for dirt.

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