As I was saying in the first blog on this subject, I wouldl like to explain my thinking on the subject of “The true evaluation of one’s life is determined by one’s final years.”
In the olden days, an epithet for “final years” was “crowning years.” This refers to old age, if i’m not mistaken. Old age comes after middle age. Middle age comes after youth. Youth comes after childhood.
I used to wonder how long of a stretch of time, before youth ends. Finally, i read an estimate in a fictionalized history of Great Britain. One nobleman speaks to a captain on the high seas. The nobleman is speaking of the crown prince, whom he knows and tells the captain, “Prince X will make a good king, though he’s not yet thirty-five, still a youth.”
That was the only estimate i’ve ever read in literature. At the same time t hat i was feeling, “that’s probably true,” a tinge of disbellief colored that estimate, making the passage all the more memorable.
Of course, the onset of middle age will vary from person to person, yet that thirty-five year old mark seems about right to me. I remember my friend Ursula Schutter, a friend i was blessed to have, saying something about what she could wear and what she could not wear because of her age. She was thirty-one. “I’m an old lady, now,” she said, tying her short dark hair into a pony tail and fastening it with a brilliant purple sheer scarf.
We laughed, but i took her words to heart and started saying the same thing about myself. I was twenty-nine.
I knew for a certainty that i was middle aged when i saw a photo of myself with my dyed red hair in an upsweep and wearing my favorite jacket of the time, purple wool and brass buttons, short-waisted and tailored. The photo showed me smiling in a club where my aunt lola, dressed in a red sequined, cleavage-showing dress stood at the microphone, reading aloud her poetry to the younger generation from a small stage.
I saw the photo and thought, “A well-preserved, well-kept middle-aged woman.”