Saturday, January 29, 2005

Inaugural Post: In Dedication to Darlene

I was twenty-six years old at the time Darlene first invited me to be her guest for lunch at one of those uptown venues – linen tablecloths, teams of wait staff, and no prices on the menu. You know the type of place I mean. It was a rare opportunity, and I power-dressed for the occasion, believing myself quite the picture of perfection by the time I was ready to go. Of course Darlene drove, and from the passenger side I commented on her own lovely outfit. She returned with thanks that she had only that morning finished making it. I was duly impressed. Conversation continued politely until it was within reason to graciously ask my new friend how old she was, and Darlene answered without hesitation that she was forty-eight.

In times such as these the green sap of youth too easily betrays itself, and I confess that I cringe to recall what I said next. “Forty-eight?! My goodness, you sure look good for your age!” Oh, yes. Oh, yes. If not exactly those words, then words so closely like them as to make no difference at all, and in thought accompanying my expression I was furthermore gloatingly confident that Darlene would certainly trade places in time with me if she only could.

I would be embarrassed still for that moment if it weren’t for the amazing gift of presence Darlene invested with her gracious reply to me.

“Mary,” she said, “I assure you that these are the best years of my life. I am living the golden decade, those years between forty-five and fifty-five when I have more security, more accomplishment, more understanding and sense of being, and more money than I have had for all the days of my life. I wouldn’t trade places with you for all the world. Remember this day and these words; you will smile about them later.”

I didn’t believe a word of what she said, but I didn’t forget.

Darlene will celebrate her seventy-third birthday this year, and she might still believe herself living the golden decade. We talked not too long ago and laughed together, recalling the story I’ve just shared with you. I am all about living into the power decades now, constituting those golden years of the second half with all the adventure a life will hold.

Young women, believe me when I say that the best years are still ahead. Enter the golden decade(s) and brace yourself for the ride of your life!