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Late Bloomers

Late Bloomers
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BY KITT WALSH

It’s not hard to trace that my new interest in late bloomers stems from the fact I just had another birthday. And for all that getting older is preferable to the alternative, it is also true that middle age is in my rear view mirror.

I can still learn Spanish and probably move my dimpled rear end to pick up the tennis racket I haven’t touched since 7th grade, but the trekking in the Himalayas better get moved up in my Bucket List soon because parts of me are making noises loud enough to scare the sherpa.

Sure it is inspiring to hear that Georgia O’Keefe didn’t discover her talent for painting till age 75, Julia Child didn’t start cooking till she was 40 or that Colonel Saunders was 65 before he even started KFC, but what caught my eye was another item in the news recently-—a woman in her 70s had never been married. She had been the dutiful oldest daughter of a large clan; had stood as godmother and favorite aunt to all of her siblings’ kids; she had a career spanning more than 40 years that she found fulfilling; her work was considered valuable and earned her colleagues esteem; and she volunteered to help others in her spare time—an honorable life and one she could look back on with pride. Yet, she didn’t look back. She looked forward.

With an optimism that bespeaks a “devil-take the hindmost-throw-caution-to-the-winds” mentality, she quietly placed a personal ad on a seniors-only dating site. Within a few months, she was engaged to a widowed 80-year-old Frenchman who called her his “princess” and held her hand in interviews, while both of them sported smiles wide enough to split their faces.

This story struck me not for the fact that the White Knight really did ride up on his charger, but for the heroine’s belief that it is never too late in the day for something wonderful to happen.

True, I read a statistic recently that said more than 80% of women over the age of 50 who have been married never want to be married again—that we prize our independence above all things. But tell this story to a group of “mature” women (as I did) and watch their eyes … wistful is the word to describe the look you’ll see.

We are all suckers for romance. The thought that serendipity can still change the game—that he or she who will be our partner may still be out there and may see past our wrinkles, graying hair and heavier hips—to the real center of us—full of hard-earned wisdom and well-aged laughter. with a trunkful of stories to tell and years more to share.

“Leap and the net will appear” is tacked to my office wall to remind me that there is more out there for me—past the Depends ads and nursing home solicitations—a reminder that life is long and I really have no idea what is going to happen.

There may be no widowed Frenchman or Tibetan trek in my future—but there surely is passion with my name on it. Most famously, Dylan Thomas put it, “Old age should burn and rage at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” His poetry is echoed in the words of my favorite troubadour, Don Henley … “I will not go quietly. I will not lie down.”

The Late Bloomer in me is ready to bloom.

 

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