Posted by: Maryann McCullough | October 1, 2012

Story for October 2012


This past August, I turned seventy.

It was the first of those “significant” birthdays that had given me pause. I sailed through 30, 40, 50, and 60 with nary a concern. But that recent event felt like a movement into a whole new community. I now was officially one of the old people.

The fact that some old people wore tennis skirts, some ran marathons while even  others ran corporations wasn’t on my radar. I just saw myself as one of those people; people who talk about their illnesses, people who have dinner at 4:30, people who buy shoes for their comfort factor. Realizing that I was already doing those things at 69 was no consolation. It just meant I had a head start at being old.

I had never planned on living this long. There was no intent to shorten my allotment of years, just an awareness of family history as well as a relationship with a multi-colored prescription regimen that had me envisioning myself as a youngish, moderately attractive corpse.

For years I used my expectation of an early demise to attempt to bribe my husband to take me on exciting vacations. “It won’t be as much fun for you to go on this trip alone (sniffle, sniffle) after I’m gone.”  But since Bill had no inclination to travel with or without his wife these attempts were generally unsuccessful. And then there came that awkward moment when Bill reminded me that I was a tad too old to talk of dying young,

So here I am – a newly minted old person and none too happy about it.

This is in direct conflict with my chosen agenda for 2012. An agenda is something akin to a resolution but less burdensome and mine had been to deliberately focus on gratitude. Realizing that my life (like all our lives) is the usual blend of highs and lows, I had decided to pay attention to the highs. I would hold them in my head in “instant queue” mode, ready to be played at a moment’s notice. It was not an original idea. The “glad game” practiced by Pollyanna was recounted decades before I was born. When a gift sent to this orphan by a charity turned out to be a pair of crutches, she replaced disappointment with the gratitude for not needing crutches.

She chose to be happy.

And so, I too will choose to be happy – to deliberately focus on all the things I am grateful for. I have a really good man to share my life who has created with me sons whom I am proud to have borne and helped to shape and (at last) a daughter, one acquired without labor pains who in turn provided me with a grandson who at two months has effortlessly captured my heart.

I am grateful to my siblings who try, who write and call and visit, who invest in making our long-distance relationship closer and more meaningful than ever.

And, of course, my friends. When I was five years old, I had one friend. Her name was Mickey. At seventy years of age (while I have never counted them) I know that I am gifted with many good friends who have enriched and continue to enrich my life. My length of years has provided many opportunities to open doors for new friends as well as time to nurture and savor those friendships that have spanned the decades. Anyone who has loved you for a really long time is a special friend indeed. (That first friend Mickey? She is one of those long-time people.)

I can sense myself smiling as all these beautiful faces appear before my eyes and can actually feel the gratitude sweeping out those concerns in my head regarding my new status as “old person”

Old person?  Sure enough! One very grateful old person.




  1. When I think of you, age doesn’t come to mind! I loved this post and I hope this is your best year yet 🙂

  2. my NEW favorite and I am pretty sure you can guess why! xxx

  3. What a beautiful reflection, Maryann! As long as we’re playing the glad game, I’m really glad to be among your late-in-life, newish friends. And I’m especially grateful that you’ve become one my wisest and dearest friends.

  4. I love the way your mind works around a subject, my friend. Cheers to a special year 🙂

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