Star-studded 60

Discovering the beauty of turning 60. Hint: it’s in the little things.

Acquiescence: passive assent or agreement without protest.

I just turned 60, and did not want a big party. My daughters and I had just had one for my husband, Gary, complete with our patio festooned with lights, rented tables and chairs, a caterer, and live band. It was a stunning fall night with glittering stars décor for the dance floor. We couldn’t exactly ask the same people back nine months later; we couldn’t re-inflate those balloons.

I could just be an old bag without any hoopla. But it sounds like sour grapes when you say you don’t want a party. So I suggested a series of activities instead. And while those ideas were swirling about, I thought about why I was happy to become a blue haired old lady.

For one thing, I am a runner. The whole family juggles babysitting and training for 5Ks (my favorite), 10Ks (Shawna’s preferred), and half and full marathons (Ashley, Jeff, and David’s choice). My husband doesn’t love any of them, but does them for the solidarity, and to be part of the squad. As a runner, you compete by gender and age group, with increments of either five or ten years.

So, when I ran as a 50 year old, I often placed second or third; sometimes first.  Wahoo!  I won an apple pie once.  One run I did with my dog and we came in first.  It would have been great, but when I picked her up to accept our trophy(!), she nearly bit the judge. Um, this rescue dog is fast but fierce. Anyway, as I aged up, I won fewer events. I’d run as fast as I could, nearly puking with my Herculean effort. As I neared 57, 58, 59 years of age, I melted into the pack. I haven’t run a race yet as a 60 year old, but I am excited to try to in this new age bracket. Maybe I’ll win a pot holder.

Another benefit of my recent birthday: I was able to join the Senior Center! I started taking Tai Chi, which is very cool. I also joined a summer golf league with my sister, Kitty, who is two years older. Taking hold of my techno-trepidation, I enrolled in a course on how to better use my nemesis, the iPhone. In each of these settings, I am the youngest participant by far. Way far. Being impatient- to- near- hyper, this forces me to calm down. On the golf course, one octogenarian paused her cart for so long, Kitty thought she was asleep, but I thought she died. She eventually tottered around her cart, selected a club, and whaled on that mother! Wow! I want to be just like her in 20 years.

I also don’t care as much about stuff. I am cleaning out my house. I am getting rid of 100 papers a day. That is my average, as sometimes it is two papers and sometimes, I am not kidding, it is 1,000. We have flipped ten houses, raised kids, had foster kids, earned degrees, adopted dogs, moved nine times. That’s a lot of crap. Gary had his business papers in five locations: kitchen desk, bedroom dresser, guest room closet, his own desk and in the rec room—just thrown about. I’m tossing bank slips from institutions that folded long ago. Business quotes  from 1993. A long-gone-dog’s license. Out, I say!

Okay, now back to the important stuff. Here is how my family and friends recognized my becoming maturer (that’s not even a word). A distance swim, followed by gourmet food, and ice-cold Landsharks, with Deb. A golf outing with carts and few rules with Kitty, Steve, and Gary. A lobster fest with Shawna, Dave, Ashley, Jeff and all the grandkids on Long Island. A sit-down dinner with my neighbors on “The Hill”. A farm-to-table experience with Bob and Kim. Boating on the Connecticut River with Billy and Sue, our friends since grade school. Champagne in Brooklyn.

Oh, yeah, I will acquiesce to that!

Author Teri Michaud is blogger Shawna’s mom. She’s a middle school reading specialist with a love for thunderstorms, good books, and anything that glitters.