Bemused, Bewildered and A Little Bit Afraid

“Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.”
—Jennifer Yane

So…what the hell did happen? I am 63 years old, and each day it feels more and more as if someone changed the rules while I wasn’t paying attention. My friends and I discuss it, well, pretty much all the time. We are bemused, bewildered and, yes, a little bit afraid. The world feels as if it is constantly shifting under our feet and we just can’t seem to find our balance. We used to feel on top of the world. Now we feel irrelevant.

Middle age is the most difficult phase of life I have experienced so far. I am struggling to redefine my role as both a mother and a daughter. I feel surrounded by loss. My children are happily starting their own adult lives which is, of course, what I want for them. Yet I also feel as if something in my heart is fracturing. I miss my cuddly, adorable little boys and wonder if the best part of my life is behind me. Relatives and friends—some elderly, some my age—are suffering from dementia, wasting away physically from age or illness, dying. And I wonder if I have accomplished anything that has made the world a better place than it would have been had I not been born.

In the midst of all this “navel gazing,” I imagined there must be other people who shared similar thoughts and feelings. I also hoped that these people might want to read what I have to say, and be interested in commenting and starting a dialogue that might help all of us make a little more sense of what we are experiencing. I wanted to reach and engage people from a myriad of locations, people who otherwise would never have the opportunity to meet, so I decided to start this blog. A friend of mine once said, “These are supposed to be our golden years? More like the tarnished years.” It struck me as so funny and so true and, with her permission, I had my title!

I hope you will read my posts, enjoy them, and relate to them. Please comment whenever you would like to either agree, disagree, or just add some comfort or advice. And if you like it enough to tell your friends about it and suggest they read it as well, even better.

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23 replies
  1. Gail Filiberto
    Gail Filiberto says:

    I once read that if you survive your 60s, you will probably live a long life. I, too, am struggling to get through this decade. I’m a few years older than you and in the throes of a medical battle. I have learned a few things. First, growing old ain’t for sissies. I know you are a strong woman. I have learned that I am strong, too. We have both overcome a lot. Second, your family may seem like it’s getting smaller now. However, I assure you, it will get larger once again. Weddings and.babies snd in-laws bring new joys. Your days will be full and busy! And your heart will burst with love you never knew. Being happy is a decision we make. I have learned to appreciate every phone call from a friend, every visit with my mom, and all the joys of babysitting for my grandchildren.
    My days may be numbered, but my blessings are many.

    Reply
  2. Ruth Ferguson
    Ruth Ferguson says:

    Awesome! And BRAVE.
    I’m impressed. Sign me up. I just dropped off in Harvard Square someone I met at reunion last weekend. He’s Class of 53. He took the bus up to Marblehead to see his childhood friend. He still travels – alone – to the Phillippines everu year to spend 4 months where he worked as a Cornell ag advisor. #ageisadtateofmind

    Reply
    • Rhonda Silver
      Rhonda Silver says:

      Thank you so much. I am glad you enjoyed it. Certainly a new adventure for me, one that I know will be challenging and jostle me out of the complacent rut I have been in.

      Reply
    • Rhonda Silver
      Rhonda Silver says:

      Thanks. To subscribe to alerts, go to the Contact page. At the bottom, under the space where you can leave comments is a box to check off if you want to receive alerts. I know it’s kind of hidden; I am going to work with the web designer to find a more prominent place for it.

      Reply
  3. Rachel Yohai
    Rachel Yohai says:

    Congratulations. I was struck by the line “I feel surrounded by loss”. I share that pain having just placed both my parents with dementia in a home this week. I’m writing this on my way to getting two injections in my shoulder and I started the week at my cancer surgeon for a check up (I’m fine thankfully). How come nobody told us it would be this way? Or are the young just deaf and we didn’t hear it.

    Reply
    • Rhonda Silver
      Rhonda Silver says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your parents. As you noted, this is exactly the type of thing to which I was referring when I used the phrase “surrounded by loss.” Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog was so that kindred spirits can find solace in communicating with one another.

      Reply
      • Rhonda Silver
        Rhonda Silver says:

        Dear Rachel Yohai: Also, I don’t think our parents felt these things so much. They didn’t have the luxury of self-examination, too busy trying to make life better for their children. I also think they weren’t as intimately involved in their kids’ lives as our generation (which probably was a good thing; I think as a general rule we lost a lot of ourselves in catering to our kids’ whims, being so concerned about their self-esteem, etc.). And our grandparents died younger and more quickly. The end of life wasn’t drawn out the way it is now, thanks to the “advances” of modern medicine which created a set of issues not faced by prior generations.

        Reply
    • Rhonda Silver
      Rhonda Silver says:

      OK! You can sign up yourself by going to the Contact page and checking the box under the section for comments. I know it’s easy to miss. I am going to work with my web designer to make this feature more prominent.

      Reply
  4. Keri
    Keri says:

    What can I say about someone I’ve known for more than 50 (what!!) years? You always did have a way with words. I applaud your insight and your bravery. Everyone in our age group can relate to at last one thought in your blog. Even if you don’t have kids, you do (or did) have parents. I have a mom who, with the help of my dad, is struggling with the ravages of Alzheimer’s. There aren’t enough expletives for me to describe this disease. In Vegas terms, I’m all in. Just so you know, I’m claiming that I’m not a robot, but I’m really not sure.

    Reply
    • Rhonda Silver
      Rhonda Silver says:

      Just so you know, I have never thought of you as a robot. Thank you for your wonderful, positive feedback. I am banking on the universality of these concerns to our age group to make the blog relevant to a wide ranging group.

      Reply
  5. Betsy Schweppe
    Betsy Schweppe says:

    “Screw The Golden Years” read the pillow in my parents bedroom! Now I get it. Thanks for all your sharing Rhonda.

    Reply