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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

On Turning (Gasp!) 70

I never thought this would happen. I don’t know what I thought would happen, since I’m on a 104-year plan, but 70 caught me a little (okay, a lot) off guard. When you are 18 on the inside, the outside can throw you for a loop. Luckily, I hang out with really vibrant, fun people 70 and beyond. One of my favorites is 93 and she just started shacking up with a 96-year old. That’s living!

We hike, we trek, and we climb 14-ers, those fourteen thousand foot mountains for which Colorado is famous. Another friend who turned 70 within a month of my birthday and I are climbing Mt Huron to thumb our noses at that number. My sweetie, who is a healthy 73-year old is coming with us and he and I will climb a couple more later this summer.

Of course, we all know that evolution wants us dead and that our bodies were not designed for 104-year plans. Our bones, joints, rotator cuffs and teeth are all trying to bow out while we work desperately to keep them. And maintenance takes waaaaay longer than it used to! My three closest friends in Colorado and I all had major surgery this winter: two spinal fusions and two shoulder repairs. But we’re back in action, with the help of some extensive physical therapy.

The trick to navigating 70, as far as I can tell, is to stay involved and connected. In my case, that means working more than ever, learning new systems and having Millennials for bosses. My experience really counts for something by the look of my paycheck, and I’m learning new types of writing and processing information all the time.

We are now the oldest generation, our parents having bowed out after a long and fruitful life. As such, we set a somewhat different example for our kids and grandkids than did those parents because of our fast evolving world and frame of reference. The Baby Boomers are now embroiled in the Trump Generation, whatever that turns out to be. All I know is that it’s never dull.

One of the tenets by which I live is to celebrate everything. Hallmark birthdays, like the decades, have always been sacred. At 40 I set new personal bests at all my running distances. For 50, I cajoled my sweetie into climbing Kilimanjaro. For 60, nothing would do but to be in Timbuktu. So you can imagine his trepidation at what I would come up with for 70. Not to worry, easy peasy. I just want to drive a Zamboni. And drive it I will in the space of two weeks at the Breckinridge, CO ice rink, courtesy of a friend whose husband is the facility manager there. And I will be in costume and so will all our friends and family who are attending. Outlandish attire required! I will be deplorable at it but that’s part of the fun, and it lets others know that it’s okay to be silly and undignified in our joy of being alive.

Next year, we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary and my sweetie and I plan to celebrate the whole year, traveling all over and wheedling the kids into taking part. My parents were just shy of their 71st when my dad died, but there wasn’t much celebration in their lives. We plan to change that.