age

The ups and downs (but mostly ups) of 61

By Teri L. Michaud

What is good about being my age? Lots! I have two games that I play with my grandchildren or students.  One, if they say a word, any word, I try to think of a song I know, and I start to sing.  Most of these children think I can sing well, because I belt out only a few bars.  The second game is the Dictionary Game.  I have the kids vs. me, and I give teams names, like The Rutabagas, and I will be The Turnip.  Same/same, so what?  They can open the dictionary to any page and ask me any word that isn't a proper noun, and I tell them its meaning.  I know a little bit of Latin and Greek roots, but the rest is basically recall and brain search and please-God some sort of connection.  Then I do the same and ask them words.  I win, usually, but they do too, because they are exposed to kayak, cardiovascular, and tandem. 

The other things that I like about being my age (61) is that I have these two fantastic daughters: Shawna and Ashley.  Then they had the good sense to marry Dave and Jeff.  Brilliantly, they then produced five amazing children: Edie, Colette, Emmeline, Julien and Miles. I've been married to Gary for nearly 40 years, and we still make each other laugh, not swoon, but laugh. Add to that, we have a little dog that will tear your face off if you mess with any of us.

Whether viewing a derelict flip house or hosting a swanky dinner party, our mom Teri is always put-together, practical, and looking on the bright side.

Whether viewing a derelict flip house or hosting a swanky dinner party, our mom Teri is always put-together, practical, and looking on the bright side.

I've got brothers and sisters who I know would give me a kidney.  Or a kick in the ass.  We get together every Christmas and St. Patrick's Day.  Randomly, we get together on other holidays, and depending on ability, hike, ski, golf, camp and bike.  They all also have kids/in-laws and out-laws who come to our celebrations. Once we had an engagement party for niece Michelle. We fashioned it after The Amazing Race, with teams of four, wearing matching bandanas.  The contests included shooting a beebee gun, sinking small boats in a kiddie pool, swimming to a dock in a relay, and wearing a prom gown on a scooter racing down a hill.  Yup, they all did it--including Jan, who was on an early date with my brother. Ten years later, and they are planning their wedding.

I live on "The Hill": a row of three houses--with one interloper home in between.  There's Teri and Gary, Jim and Mary-Ellen, and Kitty and Steve. Kitty, my sister, I've known all my life; Jim came next, when we were in third grade--friend of above-mentioned brother; Steve, grade six, another friend of above-mentioned brother, and boyfriend of Kitty; Mary-Ellen, Beach Weekend at Misquamicut in Rhode Island, girlfriend of Jim; Gary my grade 8 CRUSH--not yet a friend of said brother. We celebrate everything together--marriages, football, snow storms.

Lucky me, I also have friends who love theater, the arts, nature, NYC, food, coffee, books, running, walking and wine.

The down side of 61?  My mom is gone, and I miss her.  I have bunions, and that’s such an old-lady word, but I used to wear great shoes.

The down side of 61?  My mom is gone, and I miss her.  I have bunions, and that's such an old-lady word, but I used to wear great shoes. My knees and hips hurt whether I run or not.  I suck at technology.  My glasses are a permanent fixture on my face.  When I go into the attic, I bring my phone in case I fall down the stairs.  Not gonna do a climbing wall or jump out of a plane again.  And, although, I am a competitive runner, my “placing" days are numbered, even in my age bracket.  Those whippersnappers are gonna dust me pretty soon.

Looking to Our Parents for Inspiration

Ashley with our mom Teri and dad Gary, who demonstrate a hunger to sweat, laugh, cry, celebrate, seek new experiences alone and together that keep them young at heart.

Ashley with our mom Teri and dad Gary, who demonstrate a hunger to sweat, laugh, cry, celebrate, seek new experiences alone and together that keep them young at heart.

By Ashley Rigby

Age fascinates me and the meaning one derives from their age and the age of others, fascinates me even more. I am in awe by the ownership and pride my kids express over their age, I’m bummed when people say they are “too old” to do something, and really love when I beat younger ladies in road races. Whenever I meet someone or discover an article on someone who owns their age, yet defies if at the same time, I am hungry to know more. How? Why? What else? What next? May I join your club?

Luckily, I don’t have to look too far for inspiration. Friends and acquaintances, who have met my parents, often comment on how young they are. They had my sister and me in their mid-twenties, which was the national average for the early eighties, albeit steadily trending toward early and mid thirties. So yes, my parents were and are statistically-speaking young parents and grandparents. But typically the remarks on how young they are come after meeting them, but before their age is known.

My Mom and Dad are athletes. They downhill ski, cross-country ski, slalom water ski, run competitively, mountain bike, golf, road bike, motorcycle and hike. Honestly, if someone has the gear and extends an invitation, they are game. But consider yourself warned, they will probably kick your ass at your own sport. Also, consider yourself warned again, as my Dad cheats when he fears a loss, which I chalk up to his competitive charm.

They will laugh, dance, shut down the party and walk away holding sweaty hands in one and a drink in the other. They celebrate everything and nothing.

My Mom and Dad are physically hard workers. My Dad is a contractor and my Mom is a middle school reading specialist. On weekends, weeknights and school breaks they work together to fix up their home, rental properties, flip houses, and a small lake cottage. If my Mom isn’t mowing a lawn or painting a trim, she’s about to. If my Dad isn’t at Home Depot, replacing kitchen cabinets, or installing a window, he will be tomorrow.

My Mom and Dad are partiers. They are the ultimate wedding guests. They will befriend random party guests, they will take full advantage of your open bar and four-piece band. They will laugh, dance, shut down the party and walk away holding sweaty hands in one and a drink in the other. They celebrate everything and nothing. Here are a few reasons they might have a party; it’s a Monday night, impending snow day announcement, they have leftover booze and food from a previous party, someone died, a baby was born, someone might be born someday.

I know people who are my age who don’t do half the shit that my parents do. They don’t do it now, and they probably won’t do it when they are 60 either. Age is not the factor. It’s the hunger to sweat, laugh, cry, celebrate, seek new experiences alone and together.

As I write this I realize perhaps I am already in the club. There are no dues, permission slips, or meetings. Don’t worry about your age. If your parents are like mine, follow their lead. If not, follow the example set by your children…just go find a party, a playmate, a play date and say yes to adventure.

30s are the new 20s

Jem jams and so do I. Also, Jem isn't creaky.

Jem jams and so do I. Also, Jem isn't creaky.

By Shawna Kitzman

I’m happy I’m still in my 30s. Some of my friends and my husband are 40. I don’t know why I’m happy to have a few more years in this age bracket. What difference does it make?

I remember packages of black napkins at a party store in West Hartford Center called Bennett’s. They were black with white writing: Over the Hill! I learned in design school that historically, black packaging was associated with death. Those black napkins inferred the inherent doom and gloom that comes with turning 40. I don’t think it’s all downhill from 40. When people lived to 60, sure, 40 was old. But now people live to 80 and up, so 40 is no big deal.

Recently I felt creaky after not working out for a few months. I woke up with sore a back and hips, from my lack of physical activity. It was unacceptable. I’m too young to feel creaky. I started running again, three days a week. And I’m not creaky anymore. I know it’ll happen eventually but not yet. Not today, friends!

One of the freedoms of being 37 is confidence in who I am. I can say with certainty that I don’t like fantasy as a genre, I have no idea how the game of football works, I loathe shorts, and if I had to live on one food for the rest of my life, it’d be cheese, no question. I’m glad I don’t have to feign interest in shit to impress a date or people I want to be friends with. I can say I like this or that, or I stand for this and against that. I know who I am, but I’m open to trying new things.

The moment I close my mind to other ways of thinking or reject feedback…that’s when I’ll turn to a crusty old bird.

It’s refreshing to know myself in a way that wasn’t possible when I was younger.