I recently finished reading “The Second Half of your Life” by Jill Shaw Ruddock.
I resonate with the term “Second Half” instead of “old” or “retired.”
This book covers much information I’ve previously read, available to the woman who reaches those menopausal years, yet Jill Ruddock nicely pulled it all together in one place. Being an American, I enjoyed reading perspectives from “the other side of the pond,” even though I’m currently “on that side.” The core issues remain the same.
I enjoyed the humor found in the different use of vocabulary.
I appreciated her reference to those of us who are “baby boomers” being the “golden generation.” She stated we have defined every age of our lives simply because of how many of us there are; and expects as a group we will redefine what “old” means.
I like that thought. I have no interest in the idea of trying to be younger than my current age, but certainly won’t sit down and wait to die. This is my “second life” and I’m enjoying life. For me, that means life is to be lived; to be creative; to be full of passion and meaning.
Last week I spent a morning with a group of women trying to get a Women’s Resource Center off the ground here in Tralee, Ireland. The room was filled with energy while women shared their vision and passion to create something in the community to benefit many. Some of these women were in their “second half” living a passionate life.
I thought I gave birth to a baby girl. We were to live as a family, on the land. I thought she was mine. I soon learned this was not true. This child displayed a rebellious and defiant spirit as out of control as the ocean in a huge storm, against anything that had the scent of tradition, authority or rules. Occasionally, I would have fleeting glimpses of the daughter I thought was mine. And then they would be gone! Hers became a dance of seeing how far she could stray from the line. The collateral damage and destruction of those she either hurt or destroyed in her dance of defiance is huge. Every time I look, the circle becomes larger. It includes people both close to her and those just touched by the fringes of her life, and people whom she once charmed and has since grew tired of. Then awhile back we vacationed with her at the beach. Those few short days were a gift. Time spent together was pleasant and devoid of the stress I associated with her. I’ve come to realize there is something about the ocean that seems to calm the rage she has against life and civilization. She is back inland again, and the glimpses I saw of her at the ocean have vanished again. Is the ocean her true home and not this land the rest of us live on? Perhaps she was not a baby girl, but a baby mermaid instead.
These thoughts have been triggered by both a conversation with my local pastor when he asked me to think of a time when she was innocent before all the problems began (which brought to mind a photo of her sitting on the beach when she was about 3 or so with a white suit with red and blue polka dots) and a conversation with my husband pointing out the vacation trip we took with this child was really a gift. We spent almost a full week together and it was no stress, no drama, no difficult times, just a very pleasant time together. I’m glad I was allowed to frame this vacation into the thought of a ‘normal gift’ with this child because my life history with her does not allow me many of those memories. Somehow those two images merged into the Mermaid Girl – I think that may be her!