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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Where Have All the Years Gone? A blog by Romance Author Marianne Stephens

I look at myself today and wonder how those extra pounds cemented to my body ever got the chance to take up permanent residence. And, the gray/white in my dark hair? When did that start? Frown lines? Wrinkles? Aching knees and body?

When I was young, I couldn’t wait to turn 16. Then 18. Then 21. Then, 30. After that, I was just too busy raising a family and teaching to worry about age. When I turned 50, I actually felt surprising good. It was turning that dreaded 60 that depressed me.

All the fun emails people send me about “remember when” are entertaining…and things I do remember. My memories of growing up before I got married now seem so distant, as the years I’ve been married outnumber the years I was single.

When did I get so old?

I, like everyone else, remember certain important things from my past. Growing up and going to school. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance. And, saying the “Our Father” prayer in school because it was perfectly acceptable to do so. I remember leaving school early every Thursday to walk to religious instruction, and no one mentioned the fact that a public school allowed this early dismissal for religious reasons. It just happened.

I remember gym suits and respecting teachers. Dressing appropriately was important and not something argued about. Nothing was said about “free speech in dress”, long hair for boys, earrings, makeup, etc. We followed rules and did as told. Air raid drills were common in schools. Getting into trouble meant your parent would meet with the teacher and you’d be disciplined.

I remember where I was when President Kennedy was shot, and how I’d told my mother that morning that I’d had a “vision” he was going to be killed. Eerie thought to have, and worried me for months. How did I know that would happen?

I remember the deaths of loved ones, the marriages and births of others.

I remember being in a car accident and falling out the door (no seat belts then) and thinking to myself, “I’m dead.” I vowed not to drive again but did.

I remember how important school studies were, and how we all needed to take a foreign language to get into college. Driving was a privilege, not a demand. Working was important, and you never left a job without giving two weeks notice. Unheard of. Not ethical. Not done.

I’m a baby boomer, and life is so different now. But, I’m older, and can sit back and watch as I reflect on what was, what is, and ponder what will be. Medicare age is here and that  brings a new installment in the book of my life. Can I be that old?


My 50th High School reunion has passed. When once we talked about college hopes, careers, marriage and raising families, now we’ll talk about retirement, health issues, and grandchildren.

I taught for years, then began my writing career “late in life”. The sensuous or erotic scenes I write I’d never have written before. But, I’m older now. At peace with myself. Not out to please others or prove anything to anyone as to what I write. I do it for me.

I think about a scene from the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” where the character played by Kathy Bates waits patiently for a parking space, only to have two young women zip into the spot before she can move her car. She tells them she was waiting for the spot, only to have them tell her that they’re younger and faster.

First instinct would have you angry but accept rudeness from younger, flighty people and search for another spot. In this case, however, the character rams her car into the younger girls’ car a few times. When they scream at her, she replies that she’s older and has more insurance.

I love that scene. It reminds me that I’m older, don’t have to give a damn what others think, and can do as I please (within the law, of course). I no longer shrink back into a corner of silence if I don’t agree with others more vocal. I speak my mind, if I feel I need to.

With age comes the wisdom to know when to speak, and when to shrug it off and walk away. Picking my battles keeps me sane, and preaching to deaf ears gets me nothing but pain. Life has changed, the rules have changed, people have changed, but I’ll roll with the punches…as long as you don’t get in my way and irritate me.

Then, be prepared to hear me roar. I’m older now and not afraid to speak.

Marianne Stephens

photos:Flickr: John Morgan, johnbulla, and cannon snapper's photostreams.


Cara Marsi said...

Marianne, what an inspirational post. I remember everything you do. I remember air raid drills, saying the Our Father in public school, where I went for grades one and two and the last two years of HS. The other years I went to Catholic school, taught by nuns, whose repressive teachings, especially about sex, still intimidate me. We had to dress a certain way for school and job interviews, had to act in certain ways. There were lots of rules. I'm glad not to have so many rules now. I loved the late 60's early 70's when we had the women's movement and the sexual revolution. After all those years of sexual and gender repression, we were finally free. Now that I'm older, I agree I don't have to please anyone but myself. I write what I want because it makes me happy.

Paris said...

Great post, Marianne. I remember many of the same things you do and I've been wondering about many of the same things. It wasn't until I stopped worrying what other people would think that I truly started being happy and my writing reflected that. I think we all, if we're lucky reach an age where we become comfortable with who we are. I'm still surprised when I look in the mirror, lol. I don't think that's going to change.

Melissa Keir said...

Time has changed so much in our world, not always for good. I miss a lot of the things that have passed. But like you, finding the point in our lives where we are happy and not so worried about others. I never understood how life was too short until I saw my children grown. Now to go back, would be fun but I am ready for the next challenge... it's coming whether we want it or not.

jean hart stewart said...

Loved this column...One does learn to not get too excited about little things. Took me a while to learn that one.

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