I hate to admit it, but the words old fart have once in a while escaped my lips. It is derogatory for good reason, and there is more than a kernel of truth in there. With the best intentions, and plenty of humor, I say that there can be new starts for old farts. Yes, old dogs can certainly do more than one new trick.
I know of people at ninety who run major corporations and go to work every day. I know firemen in their sixties and lawmen much beyond that. There are senior chefs and advanced age shop girls; there are aging movie stars and young-at-heart comedians. There are oldsters in every walk of life, and for many, it is a second career. It is surprising on one level, but not so uncommon another.
There is no reason why an older citizen cannot work as long as he or she is able. If a new job is available, then why not. It is never too late to change one’s life path. It does take an open-minded employer. We sometimes find that we have gone as far as we could and need a new challenge. We want to turn a corner and walk in a new direction, albeit with a cane sometimes. We want the world to trust that we have what it takes to pursue innovation and creative thinking.
The same goes for human relationships. More than one senior has remarried and secured a new family. Divorce and widowhood do not stand in the way of those bold enough to really start afresh. They say it is harder to do this when you are “old” and that the young have a corner on the self-improvement market. Not so, my friend, not so. Take Jeremy and his new wife Susan who found each other some years ago. He was 76 and she was 52: a December/May romance. He is a widower and she is divorced, both for over ten years. Reticence made them wait fairly long to “hook up.” After a whirlwind romance that caught them both by surprise (ever see a sexy movie with seniors in it? No!), they decided to marry. The respective families balked at the prospect. They didn’t recommend it. It would wreak havoc on the wills and family finance. It would hurt them personally.
Did no one consider their happiness? They were called selfish by their heirs to be and inconsiderate. Did no one notice the love? It took a lot of courage for them to tie the knot in the midst of all the frenzy—and from all sides.
The couple has gone on to enjoy the remainder of their life together and it no doubt will turn out to be long and prosperous. We wish them well. We won’t go into what will happen when they die when the money has to be divvied up. Let’s just say that some seniors have to sacrifice some relationships for others that are stronger and more meaningful. It takes the wisdom of age to get through this unscathed.
As people come to understand what happens later in life, they will become more tolerant of these new directions in work or one’s personal life. They will let people find their own way to happiness even if it is a radically different path than was originally intended. But for now, the script is unwritten and the cards have not been dealt.