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I Shall Be Released (this is VERY long)

Okay, on Friday, when I said 'tomorrow,' what was I thinking? Also as I reread that post I see that not only did I forget about 34, I also forgot to tell you I forgot 34. Also, I met my third husband when I was 33, not 35. I think we were married when I was 35, but I'd have to go find the marriage license (ripped into shreds and delivered to me the day our dissolution was granted) to be sure. Oh, well, I think we can safely move on.

Although I told you last time life started getting better when I was 39, it started with my mother dying on January 8, 1991. However, I was sober and present and with her when she made that passage, something I couldn't have done at any other time in my adult life. I hadn't yet found AA, but was in OA and Al-Anon. The 12 steps are the same across the board, and knowing I was powerless (Step 1) allowed me to simply accept God's will for her. My first AA meeting happened a couple months later, in Atlanta, GA. Newly sober former husband #2 took me. (I had separated from my third husband.)

At 40 (I bet you thought we'd never get here!) I was enjoying life solo for the first time ever. I lived in a tiny little house in central Ohio with my dog, Lindy. I worked for a weekly newspaper as an ad designer and went to a lot of AA meetings. I wore a hat and took Lindy almost everywhere I went – a way to hide and seek attention at the same time.

Forty-one: Two years sober and two sponsors fired, I finally met Carolyn, who is still my sponsor today. She truly is a gift to me and I couldn't have stayed sober without her. Also, the dissolution was finally final.

When I was 43, Carolyn and I decided I could begin dating again. My current husband showed up at just the right time (although we wouldn't actually tie the knot for many more years). My children and I were getting along again and I was invited to my daughter's wedding, a gift of sobriety. My daughter's father sat between me and his wife, and the three of us held hands throughout the ceremony.

Life was good at 44. I loved the meetings I was attending, had a lot of friends, felt complete – like I belonged. It's hard for non-alcoholics to understand, but many drunks never feel like they fit in anywhere, and I was one of them.

My sweetie moved to West Virginia, where he was born and where his widowed mother still lived/lives, when I was 45. We continued our relationship long-distance, making six-hour trips every other weekend and chatting every day on the phone. And this was back when you paid for long distance calls by the minute!

I had joined a gym and started running and by the time I was 46 I was at my thinnest adult weight ever. I looked great, felt great, loved buying new clothes. My diet consisted of almost no fat and absolutely no sugar. It wasn't good for my skin or hair, but I was a size 8 and nothing else mattered. Not very clear thinking; was I high on being thin? This year also found me selling my house, quitting my job and moving to West Virginia. Also, and very important, my first granddaughter was born and I stopped smoking.

When I was 47 I started gaining a little weight back. (See "stopped smoking.") I also blamed it on the lack of a gym. I was trying to maintain my weight by running but it wasn't enough. My weight would continue to go up, no matter what I tried.

We moved to Huntington for a year when I was 48, so he could teach and practice (he's a psychiatrist) at Marshall University. I met my first online friend, a woman named Nancy who was in recovery, had a weight problem and knitted – just like me.

My mother's mother died when I was 49. She survived my mother by 10 long, lonely years. I visited her frequently after I left Ohio, and called every day, and always felt a little guilty for leaving her. But my sister was nearby, and I had Grandma's blessing. I was with her when she died.  Later that year I began volunteering at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, taking an AA meeting to the facility once a week – something I've continued to do up to the present.

By the time I was 50 my (boyfriend sounds so lame, but there you go) was working closer to our home in southern WV and life was good. I wasn't good at making friends, but I didn't feel lonely. The year began with my grandson's birth, a happy start to 2001. The sad part was that my dog, Lindy, died. We had  gotten another dog, Molly, when we moved from Ohio, but she was more his dog than mine. I missed Lindy terribly. My son was married that fall, a month after the attack in New York and the day before the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.

Life was on a pretty even keel during my early 50s. I liked not working, I liked volunteering at the prison, I knitted all the time and collected yarn with a passion. The downside was my weight, always my weight. I had ditched the low-fat plan (my skin tone immediately improved and my hair got shiny again) and was eating sugar again; no wonder I was gaining.

When I was 53, we went to an AA retreat in Kentucky (an annual trip for us) and found our new dog, Hershey. We had said "no more dogs," as people frequently do after the loss of a beloved pet. And I think we did pretty well, waiting three years. Hershey was advertised as a chocolate Lab, but she's more of a chocolate Beagle, without the barking.

Seven years to go. Are you bored with this happier life? I'm not!

Fifty-four … pretty much the same as 53, except now I was training a puppy. Not a big deal. I haven't mentioned my dad much in this narrative. He had remarried (my parents divorced when I was 36) and moved to Florida. We frequently talked on the phone, but didn't see each other very often. He was very happy that I'd found sobriety and a good partner.

On Mother's Day when I was 55, that partner sat me down and proposed to me. We were married in August. I had managed to lose some weight by this time and started training for my first half-marathon to be held in April, 2007. I became a registered Democrat (I had always been an Independent).

When I was 56 my son-in-law and I ran the Country Music Marathon together in Nashville, TN. My husband couldn't be there, but my daughter and her family were at the finish line cheering us on. I was a runner, a discipline that kept my weight steady (although still higher than I liked) for another couple of years. My second granddaughter was born in July. My sponsor began cancer treatment.

At 57 I was wrapped up in running and knitting. I started this blog in May of 2008. My friend Nancy died of pancreatic cancer in December. I was able to visit her early that month, a time I will forever treasure. I became very active in the campaign to elect President Obama, and met a lot of like-minded people, many of whom are now good friends. My third half-marathon was in the fall of 2008, and I haven't run a long-distance race since. I felt heavy and slow. I started thinking walking might be better exercise for me as I got older. Mind you, I didn't feel older, but I was definitely slowing down. My dad became very ill in the summer, and tried to convince all his nurses to vote for Barack.

When I was 58 I planted a garden. Daddy was getting better and had been a pretty good gardener all his life. I sent him lots of pictures of my crops, which he enjoyed. I was spending time in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio, connecting with family and friends.

At 59 I doubled the size of the garden and worked a couple afternoons a week at a garden center during the spring and early summer. My dad, who was feeling better and better, bought a motorhome and  visited me for the first time in many years in September. He died suddenly the morning he left our house. He didn't even make it out of West Virginia, and since he also was born here, I thought it fitting. I started a serious walking program that fall and walked more than 100 miles per month the last three months of 2010.

Which brings us to the present. Sixty, as of last Wednesday. I've only walked 10 miles this month, for reasons I can't begin to fathom, other than it's spring, I'm busier with outdoor chores, and I'm working at the garden center again. I also have my own big garden to tend. My sponsor is dying; she was taken to a hospice facility Friday morning. She told a friend that she'd had a good ride. I'm grateful she took me with her.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate the friendship and support you've been to me. Some of you have been with me since the beginning of the Shrinking Knitter. I love the internets! If I were so inclined, this might be a good time to quit blogging altogether. But I'm not so inclined. I like starting my day writing a couple paragraphs (and I like taking the weekends off!). I like the connections I've made with you, and wouldn't want to end them. I like the insight I gain about myself, particularly after an exercise like this one. Thanks again to Faith for her inspiration.

While my life hasn't always been pretty, I like to think I've somehow – with God's help – made it work. My mother's favorite song was "You'll Never Walk Alone," and that's true. None of us walks through life alone, or at least we don't need to. I don't mention my faith much here, but I know – without a doubt – that my Higher Power has been beside me all the way, watching me make poor decisions, leading me to better choices, putting important people in my path and helping me be the woman I am today.

And what's my favorite song? "Forever Young," of course.


Vickie said…
a brave and wonderful post. I found empowerment (for myself too) in your words as I read. Thank you for sharing.
Anonymous said…
You are my inspiration for "Just Do It". I am frustrated finding workouts or other inspirational women over 50 to help motivate me into "Just Doing It".
Anonymous said…
Thank you for your posts they've been very intersting and inspiring.


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