She appeared to be about sixty years old and her statement struck me like a wakeup call. Of course, I’m aware that I’m in the latter years of my life but I’ve never thought in that phrase before: I’m living the last quarter. I most often think or tell others, “I have twenty or thirty years left,” a phrase which can sound ominous or dread-full, hopeful, or boring, or, well, declining. But this woman’s emphasis, at least to my hearing, was on living. And she had a plan: I can spend, spend, spend.
My dad was one of those life enthusiasts even in the last five years of his life after he and my mom sold their home to move into a retirement apartment. At almost ninety years old, he would be up tinkering around, making breakfast, dressed and ready to go while Mom and I were still yawning over our second cup of coffee. “Come on, you two, we gotta go, go, go, have fun!” he would tell us gleefully. So off we would go to yoga class or a two mile walk around home or to Lone Elk Park for a picnic and hike. He, too, could spend, spend, spend and he did spend his time productively, happy and healthy until a few months before his 91st birthday when he died peacefully. Mom lived another two and a half years, quieter without her husband of 66 years, still fully participating in life. Full of contentment.
So I have longevity genes. And exemplary attitudes creating my picture of how to spend, spend, spend this last quarter of my life. My bucket list is growing, not shrinking. And I’d love to encounter that woman at the checkout counter again. For a brief moment, our paths crossed. Her magical words and twinkle of her eye, in the space of a tiny moment, caused a transformative shift in my thinking.