You can still grow while you're growing old

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By Mary Kay O'Grady


Welcome to my blog about aging, which I'm doing in Oak Park, thank God. My generation of postwar women has gone through enormous change — some of it gut wrenching, like divorce and endless wars, and some bracing and challenging, like civil rights, sexuality and feminism. About 20 years ago, I heard a sermon quoting futurist Faith Popcorn saying that middle age lasted from age 50 to 70. I breathed a sigh of relief, but now my number is up.

I can't tell you how glad I am I landed here when I was in my late 50s. I had been single for more than 10 years and was engaged to be married. I broke it off at the last minute. (More about the dating habits and love lives of senior citizens another time). During that short engagement, I lived nearby and got to know that Oak Park had more than a great movie theater and Barbara's Bookstore, which was open late after the movies.

I didn't know a soul, but I knew Oak Park was pretty and walkable and was a bastion of liberalism. I took the plunge and found a darling vintage condo on Kenilworth, smack dab in the middle of everything — close to the library, two parks, The Avenue shopping, downtown, the post office, Unity Temple — good grief, what a find.

It gets better. Not too long after I moved in, we started a building book club. Our first book was one that had just been written by another resident! And it was good! Imagine, a book club with both men (one a poet) and women, and on cold nights I could wear my bathrobe and slippers and walk out one door and in another to enjoy a glass of wine and a lively discussion. Finally I would not have to live and die in a vast condo complex in DuPage County where middle-aged people go when they've been Humpty-Dumptied by divorce.

That same year I ran into an old friend who had recently become single and moved to Oak Park, where she worked. She opened her life to me and introduced me to her circle of friends — gay, straight, black, white — and my world expanded even more.

Both of my children, who lived in the city, liked Oak Park so much that after they married, they wound up living and having their children here. This is a bet I would not have taken when they were teenagers. I share a house with my daughter, son-in-law and their two adorables. My son and wife and their adorable live less than two blocks away.

So I invite you to share some laughs and groans as I make my way, doomed to sensible shoes, in this great town.

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Marlene from Oak Park  

Posted: November 17th, 2011 9:23 PM

While looking for your blog, i came across "cruddy old bags" and thought it was yours! LOL looking forward reading more.

Aging Disgracefully from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2011 12:56 PM

Thanks, Melissa. Keep up your good work! Mary Kay

Melissa from  

Posted: November 15th, 2011 1:21 PM

Welcome, Mary Kay! I'm looking forward to hearing your insights, experiences, and views on growing while we age. Want an excellent topic!

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