Turning 65… and taking a good look around 117



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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…

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?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I have just turned 65 and find most of my friends are a lot older because of the fact I play cards and have met some fantastic people mainly widows ( late 70 s to 80s ) when my marriage broke 3 years ago most of the friends were our friends and have now gone except a much younger couple I guess that is the norm as the wives must think I am a threat ( I’m not lol ) so I don’t have any friends from childhood except one I am reacquainting with ( through playing cards ) so have had yo make new friends but I am finding as we get older we do expect as much from Friends just happy for the company

  2. Whether your friends are old or new as Marjorie says ‘true friends are gold’. So treat them that way and you’ll have them for life.

  3. I am one of 5 girls who have known each other since we were 8 – we all turned 65 this year – as a group we don’t see each other often but I see 2 girls regularly and another once a year but we talk regularly on the phone – I also have another ‘bestie’ who I’ve known since I was 15 & we talk regularly – I seem to make another good friend about every ten years through work or neighbours-

  4. I’m 71 and lost my husband 7 years ago…my old friends have always been there for me and since I starting travelling in my campervan, 5 years ago I have made many more great friends of all ages.

  5. There are 5 of us who started school together over 60 years ago. When children came on the scene we didn’t see each other much but Christmas Cards kept us in touch over all those years and now Facebook and emails keep us together and now we get together when we can as we are spread out now. I have made other friends through work and sport over the years and they have filled the gap.

  6. A very interesting perspective. Some friends we only see once a year because of distance or other commitments (including family) but we pick up the conversation as though it were only yesterday. As we get older, we don’t have the emotional energy to sustain and nurture a lot of peripheral relationships. Close friends are a blessing. We recently had lunch with my 2 oldest friends, who have known me for over 60 years, but because they live away, we don’t see each other often.

    1 REPLY
    • Yes I totally agree with you… I have wonderful friends I only see once a year, but when we get together its like it was yesterday…. I think the years are going faster, well everyone seems to think that too., so we hold on to those friendships with a gusto… Other friends I have, well we never become jealous or possessive and we all have other friends and friends of friends etc.. we meet up quite often and stay in touch by phone to have a natter… I love it.. its much easier now than when I was younger, working full time and with a child on my own… maintenance is harder I agree, but we do it with more enthusiasm now and our priorities change of course with age, and retiring etc.

  7. I have a few friends but 2 that have been in my life for many years. They are the ones that are there when I need them, wouldn’t manage without them.

  8. I still have a friend from school, she sometimes comments here, so if you see this am waving at you, every time I see her pic, I can see a cheeky 13 year old, full of life and energy. She is still just as beautiful as she was when we were kids. I also have a very dear friend who does not even live in Australia, nor has she ever, she lives in the Netherlands, I met her online 20 years ago. I have many other friends all of whom I treasure and would be lost without them

  9. I have so many friends,but only a handful that I call my true friends. These are the ones I treasure and give my energy to and we have the closest bond. I have a meeting today,as it is the second Wednesday of the month, and a group of twelve of us women have been meeting for the last 30 years. It is a meeting which none of us would set aside trivially. Within the group, I have two who are very close friends. I skype my school friends all over the world, and also two friends I have known since birth. All these friends give me joy and I am so blessed to have such a network, but the one’s I call on in crisis are counted on one hand.

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