Turning 65… and taking a good look around

65 is a funny age… You’re not old, yet some of the people around you are. You’re not young, but many of the people around you are. And you’re not naive anymore, so you tend not to waste time wishing for things that won’t happen. Or at least that’s how my stepmum looks at life at the humble age of 65, which she turned last week.

Looking around at her birthday party I had an incredible opportunity to reflect on her life through her guests and it got me thinking about the circle of friendship we go through over 65 years of living and where we end up. We start out making lots of friends in life I think, change them and thin them out over the years; grow a few more when the kids hit school age, then, over time, they seem to disappear. “Either they get busy, move away, or die too early” is how my dad says it with incredible pragmatism.

For my stepmum, a 65th birthday party wasn’t a massive event to which you would invite everyone in your social circle and past. No, definitely not. In fact, when my dad insisted she have a party, I think she tried to talk him down several times. In the end he convinced her on the basis that it might be a good opportunity to get her rather much older siblings and some very old friends together for one last shindig before they all start thinking a little older at 70…

And that she did. When given the chance to select who she wanted at her 65th birthday party, my stepmum chose “the special ones” it seems, only about 30 people. Siblings and their partners, children and theirs, and nieces and nephews dotted the event, towing their youngsters in every direction. And then it was that I saw the six or so people that I haven’t seen for years. Everyone has six people like this I think…

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A best friend from her childhood home town and her husband; a best friend from her early working life and her husband; and a best friend from her later working life and her husband. And that’s about it… No new friends or acquaintances in sight? Not unusual I don’t think, unless perhaps you’ve moved house recently and set about meeting a whole heap of new friends through a village or community.

Funny how this happens in life.

Reflecting on it actively, among all my close over 60 family members, each has only a handful of truly good and close friends that have been with them for more than one stage of their lives.  And I wonder is this just my family, or is this common to others as well?

Do you find your friendship networks thinning down to a list of six or eight very special people, and your family at around 65? Or has your social network gotten bigger as life has gone on?