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My View: It’s funny how age becomes irrelevant

By Marge McMillen

When I was a child, I could barely wait to reach the age of my elder cousin in the hopes that I, too, might possess her beauty and musical talent. But that would be an eternity. I mean, she was 12 and I was 8. Four long years later, I was disappointed to find I hadn’t reached that goal.

I managed to get through puberty and most of my teens before I wed at the ripe old age of 19. Most of my friends were already married and had started their families, and were wondering if I would ever get married. It looks like I just barely escaped the title of spinster.

In our mid-20s, my husband and I moved to a neighborhood where we had no friends. But wait. What about our next-door neighbors? My husband vetoed that idea immediately, pointing out that “they were too old.” He wondered how I couldn’t see that since they were in their mid-30s. What could we possibly have in common? Obviously, nothing. So we didn’t pursue a friendship.

It was a tortuously lonely life for me because my husband was an on-the-road salesman, while I was left home alone with two new babies.

Happily, we moved to Rochester when we were in our 30s. My husband had been promoted, so he was now a 9-to-5 employee and home every evening. And even better, we made friends with a diversified group of people, all of whom were close to our age, except for two, both of whom were 11 years older than us.

Our 40s took us to New Jersey – a new state, a new job and no friends. But that was no longer a problem. We had learned that joining a couples’ bowling league was the perfect way to make new friends, so we did just that the first week we were there.

What fun we had as we grew closer to these people, even though some of them were 15 years older than us, a fact we barely noticed.

By that point, my children were older so I looked for a part-time job to fill in my long days. I obtained one in Newark, where my boss was 10 years younger than I, but what did that matter?

The long drive to work, combined with a terrific snowstorm, forced me to reluctantly leave that job and look for one closer to home. I found one just 10 minutes away, and began working for a gentleman who was 12 years older than I. We soon morphed to becoming friends.

In our 50s, my husband and I moved back to the suburbs of Buffalo, our hometown, where we reunited with our old friends from high school, and made many other new ones, who were either younger or older than we were.

More and more it seemed that age was at the bottom of the list of requirements one had to meet in order to be friends.

When we were 60, we joined the Senior Center in Clarence. We maintained a large group of friends from there, ranging in age from their 60s to their 90s, barely noticing the difference as we traveled through the decades.

Before we knew it we were in our early 80s. We couldn’t believe that we had lived this long, and were amazed at the number of friends we had collected along the way, since we no longer enforced an age limit for our circle of friends.

Sadly, my husband passed away in 2015. It was a traumatic experience I barely survived except for the love of my family and that of my many age-diversified friends.

Marge McMillen, who lives in East Amherst, reflects on the art of aging.
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