A View from the Middle

I never understood the concept of middle age until my father died. Before then, I was protected from it, cushioned between my parents and my kids, part of the generation on the ascendance. I was content to remain in that position, expected to, in fact, for another 15 or 20 years. After all, I was a grown woman before any of my grandparents died. My father’s mother didn’t die until her only son was sixty years old. To find myself fatherless at the age of 45 was a heartbreaking surprise.

If my dad’s death drowned me in a tidal wave of disbelief and despair, the realization of my middle age crept up on me like the unnoticed-yet-inexorable rising of high tide and submerged me just as surely. One day, a few months after my dad’s death, the thought burst into my head, fully-formed and powerful: Oh my god. I finally know what middle-aged means. In my newfound state of awareness, I could see both ends of the age spectrum. Looking at my children, I saw my past, and looking at my parents, I saw my future. I saw that it is my sons’ generation that is ascendant, not mine. I could no longer ignore the fact that I am closer in age to my parents than I am to my boys. The fact of my middle age was a revelation, but not a happy one.

Three years later, I have adjusted somewhat to the idea of middle age, but I still don’t like it. My body is beginning to betray me: I need reading glasses, my arms have sun damage and strands of gray hide throughout my long brown hair. My memory betrays me. I joke with my husband and kids about having Alzheimer’s, but really, the idea of becoming senile and not remembering my life has scared me since I was a little girl and is what likely has fueled my nearly life-long journal-keeping — I might not remember my life but by gosh, I’ll be able to read about it! In adulthood, of course, I realize that if I’m senile I probably will have no interest at all in reading about anything, which makes me sad and angry at the same time. And I know I shouldn’t joke about Alzheimer’s.

I can’t stop myself from aging, but I never go down without a fight. I want to chronicle my thoughts as I look forward and backward from the middle of my life. I see myself on a road that stretches long on either side: I’m not old, but I’m not young either, and I won’t be in this equidistant place again.

After working at home and raising my boys, I am in the lucky position of being able to chase my dream of writing. This blog is part of that. If you are interested, please come along with me on my exploration. I’ll be happy for the company.

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About Jeannette Monahan

A writer sidetracked by life, with a husband and two boys who shine brighter than Arizona sunshine. Visit me at my blogs: jeannettemonahan.wordpress.com or jmmonahan.wordpress.com. You are always welcome.
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9 Responses to A View from the Middle

  1. good luck on your journey

  2. A heartfelt post; like you, it was my father’s passing that was my first real profound experience with death. And it hit me like a tonne of bricks, too … the loss of course but where I was in my life … and that realization that * HOLY CRAPOLI * I’m in the middle now and OMG here we go. I wrestled control of it and now, at 48, wouldn’t change a thing. I have no interest in going back .. these ARE the good old days. Cheers! MJ

    • Thank you, MJ. Your “wrestling control” made me think of a rodeo! I’m glad to be at a point where I can look at where I am and not freak out (too much). But…ask me again next week week when I turn 49. Ha! You are right, of course. I know these days are good, and I’m enjoying them. I loved your pie, by the way!

  3. joyfulathome says:

    Jeannette:

    I can totally relate. I will be 58 in January. Even with gray hair that needs coloring, eyes that force me to get new glasses every year, and joints that pop like Rice Krispies, I wouldn’t want to be any younger.

    Very nice post and love your background. Thank you also for reading and commenting on my blog.

  4. Hi. I can’t comment on losing my father (yet, thankfully). But I can relate to the middle age thing—sort of (there’s that em dash, JM [thanks for your comment]). I always joke with my friends, “Why are you guys all getting old? I’m not.” I am the queen of denial and I’m going down kicking and screaming. I really don’t feel my age, and luckily my friends tell me I don’t look my age… erm… 51. I think it’s all a matter of how you approach it. I think that if you still have your health, other than the typical aches and pains, then you’re doing well and something right. Keep it up!

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