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The New Age

Not too many years ago, the thought of turning fifty-five, let alone forty-anything was a fleeting, far off thing.   Oh, the mirror was doing its best to remind me that the calendar was doing it’s thing. But for the most part, I felt in fine fettle, albeit a few wisps of grey here and there. Jack loved me, (still does)…all was right with the world. Besides, he was grey-ish as well and seemed happy going through his fifties in my company.
Fifty came in for me with a bang, I was volunteering at a place I loved…they threw a party. I felt warm and special. The organization specialized in being a kind of day care center for low and no-income seniors and disabled adults.  We hosted activities like Open Mic, Jack taught Guitar, we held weekly Bingo and Writer’s Group, and offered services like Peer Counseling, Support Groups and Community Volunteer Opportunities.  Working there gave me purpose, focus and drive. There was a reason for waking up in the morning…even if there were a few managerial sleepless nights.
When I hit fifty-three it hit me back with a SLAM! Our beloved center was forced  to close, after 81/2 years of daily interaction with our group of mostly senior and near-seniors.  There still aren’t enough words to explain it or express it to anyone who wasn’t there.  Tsunami comes close…almost. We closed on 2/29/08, so I’ll only have to see the date every four years… so there’s a mercy.
It was heartbreaking, watching our patients and staff suffer through the closure, everyone frantic with last-minute, impossible ideas, scrambling to find alternatives to the resources and services that had been available on a daily basis for a few hundred people who’d become a close-knit, family-oriented community. Jack and I played at the final gathering, along with all the Open Mic regulars.  After everyone left, we packed what was left then looked around before walking away.  The place still echoed of everything that ever happened there…it was surreal, locking that door for the last time…again, there are no words.
Fortunately an other facility stepped forward,willing to open their doors. They were able duplicate some groups, including maintaining the original facilitators, and even incorporate other staff members into their own team. So it all ended up for the best, in that regard. There were some wrinkles to iron out, but at least for the patients’ sake,  the lifeboats were filled and launched long before the water rose.
But I was, personally, exhausted.  For a short while, I floundered. Within weeks of the Center closing, my dearest friend passed away. We knew it was coming, but….In all honesty, it was deer-in-the-headlights for about a dozen weeks or so.   Jack did his best to help me through, even though he was exhausted too.
When I finally came-to, the year was just about gone, leaving few more bumps in the road for me to enjoy over the holidays. You know, mini-hells…nobody needs to go into detail, everybody sees the battle scars.
Suffice to say if those months were surfing, I’d done Mavericks…twice.
So then sixty came along for Jack and fifty-four came along for me, and even though things didn’t get a lot easier, they seemed to be less of a drama, more of a dramatic comedy…Garbo was out, except for the occasional I vant-to-be-aloooone  we’d each get once in a while.  Heck, after living through grim and grizzly, anything was an improvement.
Jack has had his share of ware and tear through the years, not to be out done. He’s more the quiet-type when it comes to things like that, but you don’t have to jump in a river to know how deep it runs. Just listen to him sing something like “Momma Hated Diesels.” That just about sums it up.
Anyway, collectively we’ve been through it…just like anybody else….and survived by the skin of our remaining teeth. Stronger, at least mentally at any rate; maybe not ready for the deep end, but definitely in the mood for getting into the pool. That’s how we felt at first.
That changed pretty quickly though…the deep end looked fun! That’s where they keep all the diving boards!
So…….that’s where we are now…on the diving board, grinning like Cheshires.  The muse is calling and we, at long last, have the time to heed the call.
Music, art, song writing, making videos and recordings and computer graphics have been, up to this point, simply back-burner talents…pulled out and used at a moments notice then sent back to the wood shed ’til next opportunity. Jack, who’s been a supportive friend, confidante, critic, teacher and paramour through all this craziness has also been my artistic collaborator. He’s a fantastic guitarist, songwriter and performer in his own right.  Together, we seem to have something people like, and something we believe in too.
We had a long talk and decided to bring our talents to the foreground, go out there into the world of internet, music, and all the rest and take our turn at bat. Even at our age.
So, here were are….Jack is sixty, just turned this past November. I’m going on fifty-five this April, and we’re willing to take on this brand new venture. Some people may think we’re crazy, and that’s okay. At least we’re doing something we believe in.  If we get no where or if we get anywhere at all there’s one thing for sure, it’s going to be an interesting ride…wherever the road takes us.
So for tonight, Fifty Five Is The New Age….as in aging is not a dilemma, it’s an experience. That’s what we believe, that’s what we’re going to do. And that’s what this blog is all about.

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