Not Your Grandmother’s 70

Mar 4, 2011 | Uncategorized

"My financial plan only needs to go to seventy because that's all the longer I plan to live"  A financial planner quoting a client


I was quite taken by this comment from a financial planner sitting on a panel with me on retirement planning.  It was a week before my sixty ninth birthday and I didn’t think I was THAT old.

What does 70 look like?  People look a little surprised when I tell them my age.   I’m not 70 yet, you understand?  I am only 69 1/2.  But I’m getting ready.  There will be celebrations and a major physical challenge. More about that later.

Do you notice that we count babies’ ages in months?  I  think we do that until 24 months.  Then we go to 2 1/2, etc.  I remember my grandson announcing he was 4 3/4.  At some point we get more vague.  We are 20 something or 40ish.  Then the even more general “middle age”.  I once heard the definition of middle age is ten years older than you are.   I am always amused at a 60 year old refering herself as middle age.  I guess if you are going to be 120 that would be true.  At some point we go back to being more specific.  Betty White described herself as 84 1/2.  We go full circle.  Although I have never heard someone describe himself as 960 months old.  And then we have our descriptive names:  infant, toddler, pre-schooler, kid, tween, teen, young adult, and then we have the gap until the indeterminable middle age and the dreaded “senior citizen”.

I would rather eat ground glass than call myself a senior citizen.  (unless it is for movie tickets or a very deep discount or the lifetime pass to National Parks)  Middle age for obvious reasons just doesn’t work anymore.  At my last birthday I took a big gulp and announced to the world that I was entering my 70th year.  On September 22 I turned 69.  Please don’t tell me I am only as old as I feel.  Some days that would make me 120.  Some days I look in the mirror and don’t recognize that old person.  Other days I look pretty good and on top of the world.

I am slightly ahead of the baby boomers, the first of whom are turning 65 this year.  They are exploring new territory and I seem to be the forward scout.  There are no role models for me.  What is your image of 70?  I am guessing it is not me.  Some things about me I am guessing are not typical:

I went to law school in my 50s and I continue to build my own solo legal practice, and not just show up a couple times a week

I Twitter

I am active on Facebook

I just traded my Blackberry for an iPhone  (I have had an iPad for several months already)

I’m an avid fan of Bikram Yoga

I  purchased and read “How Not To Act Old” and “How Not to Look Old”.  This means I am learning to avoid skin colored hose, text with my thumbs and not my index fingers, and never ever wear dark lipstick.

I have found, however, that I prefer my own company most Saturday nights, rarely hit the latest happy hour, and have eschewed on line dating as just not having the patience to do the getting-to-know-you dance.  I don’t consider that a sign of old age but merely a sense of being discriminating with my time and energy.  I don’t suffer fools gladly.

This is not to say I don’t have an active social life.  I am very active in several community organizations and attend many “networking” events.  I have a small group of female attorneys we call the Law Ladies.  We meet once a month and the members are my daughter’s age or younger.  It seems most of my friends are my daughters age.  They have started asking me about menopause and, frankly, I don’t remember.

This is just some background to explain the premise of this blog.  I know there are fitter, more active, more attractive 70 year olds or older.  Think Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Gloria Steinem.  And that  is just the point.  I am not an outlier.  I am what 70 is now.  I hope to offer a template for my baby boomer sisters (and brothers) who are entering these so-called golden years.

It really is not your grandmother’s 70.


  1. Deborah Drake


    This is simply marvelous and funny and so authentic I am compelled to beg you for more material. Nora Ephron has not a thing on you. Erma Bombeck would so endorse your book…How about we plan on getting the author of the Sweet Potato Queen’s series to review your future manuscript my dear one!

    If all it takes to turn you on to write as much as you are doing so these days is a space to write and a community to write with, I am so pleased to have been a part of the “debut” of you, the writer.

    A funny and touching writer, who also happens to be a caring and compassionate lawyer and a very hip grandmother…

    Wow. To know you is a gift.

    • kqkirkland

      Thank you, Cathy. Thanks for the encouragement. I am following my mentors’ advice of writing just because I want to and not worrying if anyone is reading. It is fun to find someone reading it, however.


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