Tuesday, January 16, 2007
MY TRIP FROM 65 to 81
Ronni has honored me by asking me to be a guest blogger on Time Goes By. The question she posed to me went something like this, "How have you changed, how has your life changed, how has your daily life changed in the past 16 years?"

What huge questions! Ronni picked sixteen years because she just turned 65. The answer, in a nutshell, is that my life is totally different now at 81 than it was back when I was 65. I'm a different person in many ways. Life happens, you need to adjust and to accept those things that you cannot change and go on with your life.

Millie Garfield and Florida Oranges

Many wives complain about having their husbands under their feet when they stop working. In my case, we had no problem, he did his thing, I did mine and then there were times we did things together, that way we made life interesting for both of us.

Soon after my husband retired we started spending the winter months in Florida.

We took advantage of the many activities that our complex offered. Like my mother taught me, "If you don't go out, nothing will happen." So I went out and things happened.

It was an opportunity for me to meet people who had different backgrounds and different ideas than my own. It wasn't difficult meeting new people to spend time with. It's not hard for me because I listen when most people talk.

I had to learn how to deal with people that were nothing like my good old friends from up north.

What I quickly realized was that you have a history with your old friends that is irreplaceable. There's a comfort level that is built up over years of shared experiences. I've been coming down to Florida for 18 years and have made a lot of friends, but only a handful of them approach the closeness and comfort of those old friendships.

Wedding Toast

Ah- losses, those were hard times - I lost my husband when I was 68, he was 74, Five months later his sister died, after that other family members and friends passed away.

It was during those days I realized how strong I had become. My husband had always encouraged me to do things for myself. If it weren't for him I wouldn't be driving today. So many husbands say to their wives, "honey, I'll take you wherever you want to go." They take care of all the financial matters and when "push comes to shove" the wives are helpless. Not so in my case.

Millie is Surfing the Internet

For some reason I always have trouble spelling the word "decision." I think it's because I have had trouble in the past when it comes to making an important decision but as time goes by it's not as difficult as it once was. Experience is a good teacher.

After my husband died I knew it was time to sell the house. The friends that I had were all married, had lives of their own and I had to make a new life for myself. What to do, where to go? I gave it a great deal of thought, thought about it and thought about it. I almost made a mistake by considering a development where two of my dearest married friends lived. What a mistake that would have been! They were supportive but I needed to be where I could meet other widows and single ladies.

Fortunately for me, in that case, I moved very slowly and finally found a development where I knew a few single ladies. It took me three years to do "the deed" but it paid off because the day I moved in I knew it was the right place for me. The neighbors were welcoming and I fit right it.

Mom and Sun

Challenges of a New Life
Another big decision I had to make was, "Do I stop going to Florida for the winter." Even though I had been going to Florida for years with my husband, this was different - could I do everything that had to be done to get ready, I would be alone and have to make new friends, it would be a totally new life.

I sat on that for a while and then a light bulb went on, "if I wasn't happy, I could always come back home." At that point I was strong enough to realize that's what I had to do. If I hadn't gone that winter I wouldn't have been going all these years.

Millie at Apple

How Have I Changed?
Another big question. I'm more confident, assertive and independent. I'm more selective about how I spend my time, I'd rather read a good book or be on the computer than spend it doing something I wouldn't enjoy.

When I was 65 I did not think about age, my health was good, I baked, I cooked and had family and friends over for dinner, Now at 81, no more baking, very little cooking and very little housekeeping, I move a lot slower now but what needs to get done, gets done today, if not there is always tomorrow.

Happy the Mac is back

At the age of 77 I started blogging. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it would enrich my life the way it has. When I was a child I was this shy little girl and look at me now! I've been on TV, been written up in newspapers and made speeches!! This all came about because when I asked my son, "What is Blogging?" I took the challenge and started a whole new chapter in my life.

There's a lot of living to do between 65 and 81, there are bumps and pot holes in the road, but they can be repaired and life can be beautiful!

I am so glad Ronni asked you these questions. Your answers were fabulous. My guess is that you succeed in life because you are an optimist. I wish you had been around when my mother became a widow. She couldn't really pick herself up and continue. She was depressed and although she started her own small business she never had the friendships, joy and resilience that you have. Thanks again for a great post. By the way, I met your son last week here in Boston. He's a very nice guy!
Thanks for sharing all this with us Ronni. You are a wonderful person and I am so glad we got to meet last year. Let's do it again, shall we?
Hi Millie,

This was a very nice post. I hope that if I reach the age of 81 I too can say some of the same things you did. Your a very inspirational person. I am glad that I know about your blog. You have taught me many things so I thank you
Congratulations for an inspiring description of your journey. I hope mine will be as fruitful when the time comes.
Millie - your husband would be so proud of your accomplishments, your courage and your creativity. Thank you for helping us to look forward to the next adventures in our lives .. no matter our ages.
What a beautiful, optimistic post. I'm bookmarking it so I can read it again. :)
Millie, first let me say I love seeing the photo of you as a bride. What a beautiful woman you were then - and still are!

If every woman had your attitude, this world would be a vastly more happy place for them. You have so much wisdom to impart. Thank you for sharing it with us.
And just imagine what the coming years will be like! The web is ageless -- you're just hitting your prime. :)
Inspiring, optimistic, and gives a person of 72 a lot to look forward to. I hope my life continues on as well as yours.
Oh, Millie, you are SUCH an inspiration to me! I hope you know how much I admire you. You are certainly one of those women that took "lemons" and made lemonade!
Through my years of home health nursing, I saw many women that had lost their husbands....and many were those women who didn't drive, let hubby do everything for them, and never became a person in their own right.
The others were like you....independent, strong, and with a zest for life that only kept pushing them forward. Blogging opened a whole new world for you, Millie....but ya know what? Had it not been blogging, you would have found something else to catch your fancy and keep you young.
But I'm ever so glad it was blogging that captured you, so that the rest of us can share what a great and unique 81 year old you are!
This was a great post!
Your entry today gets hearty applause from me. I've also been reinventing myself since losing my husband 6 years ago, and I find I like me. I've had experiences I couldn't have dreamed of all because I saw that I had 2 choices in life: Go by myself or stay home by myself. I love your mother's statement that if you don't go out, nothing will happen.
Your blogging has enriched my life, Millie. I apologize for "lurking" most of the time. I know we'd be great friends in person, too.
Marilyn (74 and pushing on)
millie, thanks for visiting my blog and enjoying virginia's post. aside from all the reasons your posts appeal to me--and terri is right that you'd have found something else to engage your energy if blogging had not been around--that you show yourself is very important.

we need to be visible to one another and respond to those images. we can't do much about invisibility in the media, but here we can appreciate one another. thanks for being such an enthusiastic spirit--and looking wonderful. yours, naomi
hello Millie..you don't know me but I am Donna MacKenzie from Ontario, Canada..I was just doing a search on a yahoo 360 blog from a woman who claims to be from Windsor, Ontario and her blog just so happens to be the same as your's, she has changed a few words but I would appreciate you checkin it out..i hope this link works..http://ca.blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-Q.jCeVozeqTeUN9O7CstU3pqsWI-?cq=1&inv=jB8CccRlKfC1..it is the blog called Retirement posted Monday January 22, 2007..the blogger goes by the name of babyheaven in yahoo 360..
I can be reached at
donna.mack@rogers.com if you have any questions..
i don't like when people steal the identities of others just make
a few friends..
have a fantastic evening..and sorry for the barging in on your page..just thought you should be aware of this..
I hope to keep a positive light on things as I grow older; in the way that you have Millie. I battle with depression quite a bit, but keep plugging away at life and living in hope. Always hope...
Dear Steve, I have heard from a friend of mine that you had posted a comment on the babyheaven's 360 page..i went on this morning to read it and your comment has been deleted but the post is still there..If you wouldn't mind, could you please send me the comment you left on her page so I can post it on mine to let the 360 folks know exactly what this woman is...my email address again is donna.mack@rogers.com. Thank you..Have a fantastic day..xoxo
Thank You Mildred. I just found your site and you are an example of what I am wishing for all of us --- to not grow older into a culture of decline, but one of possibility. I too am turning 65 next week and looking forward to the next 16 as being the best in my life. I hope you get a chance to visit me at my blog one of these days.
I especially like your mother's wisdom, "If you don't go out, nothing will happen." I wish my mom were still around so I could introduce her to your blog.
Most of the time I just lurk around your blog, but today I have to say that I love it. I would never guess from your pictures that you are 81. You're inspirationally spunky, and I only hope I can remain as fiesty when I'm 81. :)
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