Outliving Your Mother, What’s Next?

by Dr. Sharon Ufberg

As my birthday approaches, I cannot help but think about the fact that this year I will have outlived my mother. She lived only 2 months past her 56th year. Her life cut short sped up mine. As a woman just entering my 20’s, I had no time to lose. I subconsciously put my life into fast gear and by the time my father died 6 years later, I had already zoomed through my graduate studies, married, opened a private practice, given birth to two beautiful daughters, moved cross country and bought my first home.

I cannot remember ever thinking about my days as a grandmother or what my life would be like as an older woman. I had no long horizon, no vision of what life after 60 would look like for me. I didn’t plan, or save, or wait on any moment that I wanted to experience later. There was no later, only now.

It occurs to me that I had the good fortune of having less expectation for my 2nd chapter. I did not spend a lifetime waiting to retire, move to the country or travel with a new lover. Any need I had for adventure, fulfillment or fun, I played out as it bubbled up with no ability or desire for delayed gratification.

As I think back on my life’s choices, I have little or no regrets. Besides wishing I had saved just a little of that hard worked for inheritance from my father, I would do it all again.

So that leaves me here now. Continually searching and seeking a life of perpetual joy and meaning, as little pain and suffering as possible, and a huge sense of gratitude for where I sit — in good health, closely surrounded by my family and loved ones, living in a most beautiful setting and full of more energy, vision and purpose than ever. Getting older has not deterred my optimism or my desire for pushing the envelope on life.

I still do not have a clear image of what I will be like as a grandmother, or what my future will look like down the road. I still believe in living every day with great wonder and with an effort to making a difference. In some ways, from this birthday forward, I will be living life with extra zeal — for my mother and me.

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