When you turn 50, you automatically find yourself in the crosshairs of the AARP. One day you are obliviously enjoying your 40's, and the next day, while standing at the mailbox in disbelief, you are a senior citizen being courted for AARP membership. With that comes your subscription to the organization's monthly bulletin, chock full of articles like, "What To Do When You're Not Quite Dead Yet," "Let's Keep the FUN in FUNeral," etc.
This month, however, in an article titled, "In Truth, 60 Is the New 60," writer Marc Freedman departs from the usual depressing fare to tread on ground that hits somewhere between "uplifting" and "profound." In summary, he theorizes that we Baby Boomers live and think in a way that creates a whole new stage of life between middle and old age. In his own inimitable words, "[T]he whole 60-to-80-year-old period is simply new territory, and the people in this period constitute a 21st-century phenomenon." He names this period "the encore years," which, as a theatre major and enthusiast, I simply adore.
My grandbabies--Sooby, Pooh, and Bootsie--are my encore. During Act I of my little life drama, I raised my daughter, and during Act II, I raised my son. I am pretty sure the whole thing was either a comedy with occasional tragic elements or a tragedy with lots of comic relief. At any rate, my face often resembled one or the other of the classical drama masks. The curtain has closed on that particular performance--but wait--I hear clapping. No, I hear thunderous applause. The audience is on their feet. They want an encore, and I graciously comply.
When you are maintaining a household, working 40 hours a week, and grading student essays until midnight, it is sometimes hard to feel appreciated for the sacrifices you make for your children. Looking back, I am sure I failed many times to let my own mother know how much I appreciated her. It is simply the nature of children, period.
But grandchildren are different. The curtain has re-opened and here I stand on stage again. I am glad to be here. I feel the vibrations from the applause and I soak up the spotlight. It is warm here, and I am loved.