I am about to turn sixty within a few short weeks and reflecting back on experience things were far simpler when I was younger. It would appear youth is wasted on the young, ageing is inevitable but growing up is optional.
I consider my years in the transient mining industry and how it drew me away from my family. The consequences were socially fatal and I lost two wives to distance, managerial responsibility and loneliness.
Distancing myself from the loss of a second family the last thing I contemplated was a third romance. My previous marriages had been picture book perfect matches of age, appearance and character… so what happened? I subscribe to the number one rule of management that “I am responsible for everything” and “I made mistakes”. Regardless of the demands amid a booming mining industry I had choices and at times picked poor ones.
So at 46, faced with a second divorce and arriving at yet another mine site, disappointment reigned supreme. “What would have happened if?” came to mind. The decision was mine and I should not condemn my own direction, as you cannot change what you constantly tolerate, so what next?
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Engrossed in work and living alone, time to cook my own meals was limited, as I often worked 16 hours a day. I dined at local restaurants and resided in a humble two bedroom unit, but at least I was in a town and an area I had been before. I had to start again and the words ‘never give up’ echoed in my mind as they always had. Financially and emotionally crippled I pushed on.
I distanced myself from romance but was surrounded by interest. I befriended the younger as I saw them as less of a threat, but then something miraculous happened. With two picture perfect matches gone should I throw the proverbial “procedure and instruction manual” out the window and look at life as it presents itself.
Neither I, nor my current wife of nearly 13 years can tell you why or how it happened but it just did. From a quaint hello to a young female neighbour we became inseparable in a very short space of time. Both sides of the relationship resisted at times but love took its course and after everything I had experienced in the past we married and have two wonderful children, a girl 9 and a boy 12.
What’s so different about this instance you may ask? Well, the main one is that my wife is 26 years younger than I. If I had not experienced text book failure by my previous marriages it is possible I would have rejected the inevitable based on a theory I had proven to fail. Well for me at least.
My wife and I never speak of age. We have had people confronted by the same situation ask for advice. But my thoughts are that is that if you have to ask for advice you are proceeding on the context of others perceptions, worried what others will think, this is unhealthy. What others think is not important and what you think and feel is the basis of substance.
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For us this has worked, we discuss everything and are seldom are apart, this is healthy. Our children are a pleasure to bring up and very close to us, which is an experience and a virtue out of reach when I was young.
My wife only yesterday commented that a new friend, the mother of our daughter’s school friend was shocked to find I was sixty. She thought at the tops I was forty-seven. Has experience passed on its rewards beyond my comprehension?
The words of my father also echo in my mind, ‘If you are taking heartbreak ridge, even if you think all is lost, never give up, for your life and the life of many others may suffer. Your loss will be their gain and your life will mean something.’