A few weekends ago I had a chat with my great aunt, who is 101. During our visit, she claimed that “there is no future in getting old.” That line stayed with me. She said that she’s bored: all of her friends are dead or dying, she isn’t very mobile anymore, and she has been the longest resident of her seniors’ lodge at 20 years. She reads a lot and knows everything about everyone, yet she can’t wait to pass along to whatever is next. I am not anywhere near 50, yet I found myself curious about Margaret Trudeau’s book The Time of Your Life: Choosing a Vibrant, Joyful Future. I liked the fact that the future as a woman could be vibrant and joyful.
There has been a lot of positive talk lately about women and aging. For the longest time, women over 50 were either old maids, crones, or not visible. I have to say that as a woman in my 30s I have truly enjoyed the trend to have women playing age-appropriate roles. The entire time I was reading Trudeau’s book, I kept thinking of Grace and Frankie, the Netflix TV show.
Grace and Frankie is a TV show about two women whose husbands’ divorce them so that the two men, after 20 years of being in love, can get married. Life change is an understatement. Throughout the episodes, both women come to terms with who they are and how they can start to live a life of joy and hope again. Although never friends in the past, the two become each other’s support network. They choose to live life differently and make choices that they would have avoided had they still been married. Seeing these women find themselves and learn to love themselves again has made this TV show one of my favourites. It is encouraging to see women who are older than 35 on the screen.
Throughout the book Trudeau provides personal stories, stories of friends, and researched information about many different issues that women over 50 should consider. As I said, I found this encouraging because like Trudeau, I have a hard time planning for the future and love to live in the moment. Yet i am building friends, I am planning for retirement, and I am finding things (like volunteering and interests) that bring me joy. The loneliness that many seniors face is Trudeau’s number one caution, at least that’s what I got from the book. Yes, family is extremely important, but so are your friends and your own personal interests.
In the second Sex and the City movie, Samantha has the best line ever, that sums up Trudeau’s book: “I love you, but I love me more.” And clearly, I’m not the only one (according to this video.) Kim Cattrall, in the video, says, “Yes, something to live by.” I’m not saying all women need to live alone, but I do believe that no one can love others without loving themselves first, and that is at the heart of Trudeau’s book.
This trend of having women play women their age is a huge step forward for my generation: we are finally seeing the media message that aging is ok. We all age, and it’s ok to get wrinkles and new hips, and also Depends.
So overall, Trudeau’s book was a major encouragement for me and I suggested that my mom read it because she’s over 50 and I know that all women need some encouragement and empowerment along the way. And hopefully I will be like my great aunt, but with a little more pep in my step!
“I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I know this to be true: we have a great degree of control over what happens to us in the last third of our lives. Gerontologists call it the ‘life course’–the trajectory we set for ourselves as we age, based on how we choose to live our lives today.” (Margaret Trudeau, Pg 8)
“I thought, ‘Those who are older should speak, for wisdom comes with age.’” (Job 32:7)