Turning 70

Turning 70 by Richard Ballo

In a couple of months, I will turn 70.

I was nervous. Seventy sounded so old and I didn’t feel old. I am bald and my remaining hair is gray. But 70?

My 70th birthday came and went, and, like other birthdays, I didn’t feel any different from the day before.

I remember this feeling happening on the big birthdays of 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, and now, 70. Each decade had challenges.

In my 20s it was flunking out of college at 22 and returning at 28 when I found my purpose. I was also struggling with jobs and dating.

In my 30s I married, and we had two kids, my wife was diagnosed with cancer and died when I was 39.

The 40s were recovering from my wife’s death and raising our sons. I began to date again, but dating as a dad with children has more challenges than when I was dating in my 20s. I also joined Kiwanis, started ballroom dance lessons, took flying lessons, Jiu Jitsu lessons, and joined a gym. In my late 40s, I learned to ride a motorcycle.

In my 50s I rode my motorcycle up and down the east coast. I was in a series of 6-month relationships. At my office, I had time to write while still defining who I was and my role at the company. The kids were getting ready to graduate from high school and I was still single. My first book was published, and I reluctantly started a publishing company. I was torn as to my role, and I didn’t want to talk or write about grief even though I was good at it. I still had grief issues to resolve. I also dated less. Then I had a series of turnarounds. A woman I had dated was killed in a motorcycle accident. I had a broken engagement. Then I met the woman I would marry.

At 60 I remarried. Sixty still sounded young. We had similar upbringings and views on how we wanted to live life. My new wife and I took my motorcycle for an 11-day honeymoon trip in Wyoming. I enjoy being married because I didn’t have that for twenty years after my first wife died. We understand the trials we have as older adults with parents who age and die, and our children who marry and have children. Those mysteries ache and pains of our bodies aging. We commiserate and laugh because we are together.

I wrote more books and published them under my company named “Tolman Main Press.”

In my late 60s, I was tired of publishing. I wanted more time to write. My wife semi-retired so we had more time together. At 69 I took a solo 1,200-mile motorcycle trip across four states. It was enjoyable. Yet in my 60s, my friends and family started passing away, and that will continue as I age.

I thought I would close the publishing company down when I was 75 but suddenly it was too much at 69. The projects and stress were too much, and I could feel my health being affected. At 69 I sent letters to my clients and told them of my retirement. Then I turned 70.

I was told that 70-80 is a very productive time in a person’s life, as are the 40-50, and 60-70 decades. Also, I don’t know what 80 will be like, but I know it is closer to the end of my life. When I see people in their 80s, who are still active, it gives me hope.

I still write but have backed away from taking on other commitments. I want to be a productive writer and publish the manuscripts I have. I also want to enjoy more time with my wife, and our blended family of adult children and grandchildren. And still motorcycling while I am healthy.

All in all, I am still me. I work, go to the gym, laugh, motorcycle, enjoy the grandkids, and talk to people, even strangers. My wife and I enjoy our ages and work as a team to support each other. Each age brought challenges that have added experiences to my life. I’ll make the best of the years left.

Cheers to the next 10 years.