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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

What Does 60 Look Like?


I turn 60 this month. I had to go back and look at those digits and ponder them after I typed them. They look so foreign. Me 60? Recently, when people have learned that I was coming up on a milestone birthday, several have kindly quipped, “You don’t look 60!” But after the third person told me that, I thought, Well, what exactly does 60 look like?

When I was a kid, 60 looked ancient. That was my grandparents’ age. When I went to work, and a I was PYT (Pretty Young Thing), 60 looked like those old ladies in cardigan sweaters on the executive floor. Now, that I’ve arrived at 60, it doesn’t seem that old. Here’s a little secret for all those not yet 60: it’s not that bad. Sure, I’m not as svelte or supple as I used to be, but on the inside, I feel the same as I did when I was 16—only a whole lot smarter. I know a lot more; I figured a lot more things out; I’ve achieved a lot more; and I’ve come to learn what is important in life. I think you spend the first 20 years of your life becoming you and then the next 40 creating and living your life—getting married, having children, building a career— and then all of a sudden you’re rounding the bend and sliding into third at 60.

If I could go back now and visit my 20-year-old self, I think young me would be delighted and relieved as to how I have ended up. I’ve been blessed with so much and by so many people, it’s hard to mourn the passing of the years.

As I mentioned in a previous column, I was fortunate to go on a Caribbean cruise (before the coronavirus hit), and the ship was primarily filled with passengers who were 50 and up, and let me tell you, they were having the time of their lives. Sure, there were a lot of people on canes or were wearing knee braces or didn’t exactly look like Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, but they were enjoying themselves, with a sense of they had nothing left to prove. They’ve married, had children, had careers, faced obstacles, become grandparents and survived. There’s no time to look back only time to enjoy the here and now and make the most of what’s left of your life.

Last summer, my granddaughter Sadie, who was three at the time, was over at my house, and she was playing at me feet. I was wearing shorts, and she looked at my right calf that has a varicose vein that runs down the inside like a lightning bolt, leaving a constellation of three clusters of spider veins. She touched one of the spider veins and smiled up at me. “Grandma,” she said, “I really like the blue spots on your leg. They’re beautiful.”

I chuckled. Only a three-year-old could think a spider vein beautiful. “Why, thank you,” I said.

What does 60 look like?

A lot like a varicose vein. In one sense it’s an unmistakable sign of advancing age, and on the other its simply beautiful.

This originally appeared in the April 2020 edition of Northern Connection magazine.