I don’t normally eavesdrop – but dining at an outdoor cafe next to a table of beautiful young ladies on a lovely summer day, discussing the woes of turning 40, caused me to recollect the skills necessary for surviving the ‘70s. The lady closest to me was  saying, “ I remember when I was sooo glad I wasn’t 40,  a decade too far away to feel regrets that it might not hold the goodies I imagined to be there.” 

“Yah, but you know,” another gal interrupted, “We know now it’s not the beginning of the end but instead knowing our dreams well enough that when doors do begin opening up, we’ll know which one to walk through.” 

Another gal quoted somebody she remembered saying, “if you don’t know who you are by your middle 40s, you never will.” 

There’s a time when acting innocent stops working and you are now expected to know how when and how much to tip, open up the door yourself instead of looking helpless and knowing when to take a gift to the hostess.  Another commented on being more easily distracted and forgetting common words with others agreeing simply hadn’t been expected in one’s ‘40s.

A positive gal in the group pointed out that she knows she’s better at grasping the essence of an article or controlling her emotions and managing money.  All agreed with the woman who said what pleases her most about being in her forties is her folks have given up on trying to change her. Yet we well may be at the peak of our careers.  And we are now cooking  the turkeys, not bringing the extras.  Our real lives are probably happening right now.  It’s pointless in trying to be what we are not.  And we  have encountered death of too many close friends or relatives.

But as the eavesdropper, I think to myself:  “Well it’s no picnic being in your ‘70s either.” 

You find yourself being constantly cautioned to get one of those gadgets that let  folks know where you are when you fall, or put guard rails up by your bathtub, or get your name in for an Assisted Living Home.  You get cautioned when you toss your cross-country skis in the car, headed for the nearest golf course, reminding you how foolish you are.  Yet I smile as I fondly think of my friend who finally finished her life story, found a local publisher to put it together complete with family photos ending with her culminating ‘Rules to Live By’ in an attractive l00 copies of a book with her youthful photo on the cover stating, “The Life of an Extraordinary  Ordinary Woman”.  She then gave all the copies away to those who attended her 90th birthday party, and was toasted many times over with upraised glasses of champaign.  Several weeks later, I told her I had used one of her rules to live by for use with daughters, ‘Always agree with everything they say,’  but with a wink of her eye, she replied “but I didn’t add, then I do what I please!”

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