By Carmelene Melanie Siani
“Did turning 70 cause you to start thinking about how few years you have left?” a friend asked me recently.
As it turns out she had herself just turned 70 and it bothered her. “In 15 years I’ll be 85. Will I live to be 85?” she went on, almost musing out loud to me the thoughts she’d been having when she was alone.
I told her that I did think in those terms—those “life isn’t going to go on indefinitely” terms. That was definitely not the way I thought about life in my youth. Hell. When I was 50, it seemed as if 77 years (the age I am now) would be eons before I reached it.
I remember when I turned 60 my daughters wanted to have a big birthday party for me.
“You’re 60 Mom. We want to make a special celebration.” “Thank you so much,” I told them, “But as far as I’m concerned, I’m not 60. I’ll let you know when I am.” I’ve thought that my life has seemed fore-shortened because of my recent illness and that feeling my strength and my vitality and my sense of self drain away was what was causing me to count the years.
But maybe not.
Maybe it just happened as I left 60 behind. In fact, maybe it’s natural, appropriate, timely even. Certainly my husband and I talk about it.
“I’d like us to have 20 years together” he’s said at least 20 times and I remind him that I’ll be 97 in 20 years—and so will he. “So?” he says—he of the never has been to a doctor in his life, who weighs about 10 pounds more than he did in high school and who still has a full head of hair.
Last year David and I emptied out our house that had sold in three days. I’d lived in Tucson for almost 50 years. He had lived there for almost 20. There was a lot of stuff for us to go through, but we both were thinking that the lighter we are stuff-wise, the easier it will be for us to get to that mythical age of 97 together.
“Travel light,” David said, and in that vein, we committed to bring with us only enough of our favorite things to fit into our new 700 square foot one bedroom apartment in San Diego.
“Not having a lot of stuff will make it easier when we move back to Tucson,” we tell each other and I think, bottom line—it will also make it easier for everybody when we die. There just won’t be so much for our kids to go through.
Besides, it’s easier to get to that mythical place in the sky when you are traveling light.
It’s like the only thing I want to take with me is one little suitcase crammed full of love. One that will make it till I’m 97—and beyond.
Editor: Dana Gornall