You would think that when I turned fifty, it would have been a difficult time for me, but it wasn’t. In fact that year I got a new bike for my birthday, took up roller blading as well as horse-back riding. It was great. Fifty-five, on the other hand, was not. So what happened?
The year I turned fifty-five, my mother-in-law died. Now that in itself, though traumatic, shouldn’t have been enough to send me into a spin. But, by now my father has died which left me with unfinished business I had to work out, and many years before my husband’s father. All that is left if my mother who is in a retirement home after deciding to move there following hip replacement surgery that took place at the same time my mother-in-law was on her death bed. Six months after that I hit a wall. I had no energy, I slept on and off all day for a week.
It took months to figure out what was wrong with me. Then I knew. I’ve reached a stage in my life when everything is changing to the point where I could no longer keep up. The death of my mother-in-law was like the rug being swept out from under me. For years I could count on her being there to take care of the family. She was our heart. Now she is gone our way of life has shifted. For a while, I thought it would be OK. But as time passed, I could see that our respective children were growing and moving away. They’d come home with new partners and before you know it, they’re having families of their own. With all additional family members and extended family of each new person, it was becoming harder to get everyone together for the holidays. It took me a long time to realize that things would never be the same again, then even more time to accept that it’s OK that things have changed. We had our moment in the sun and it was wonderful. Now it’s time to make room for a different kind of life, a different kind of family.
For me, this means my husband and two children. I have learned to create new family traditions and to cook foods that are special to us. Holidays have once again become a family affair where we all help out in the kitchen with both the cooking and the cleaning. We sit around the table for hours talking, eating, drinking wine, and it’s wonderful.
For now, it’s just the four of us, but over time I hope that it will include new family members, be it by marriage, or simply by choice. I am content. Dare I say that I’m happy with this new arrangement?