Finding Joy in Your 80’s and 90’s

Today I’m in the mood to pull the curtains back from a darkened room and find the joy. Living through aging parent experiences is draining, it goes with the territory, but witnessing pure joy sure brings in a lot of light.

I found an example of just such a joy when reading a Glamour article about Nearing Ninety – a book written by the well-known author Judith Viorst who is indeed, close to 90 years old. (That very fact is joyful! A woman turning 90 has the energy, mindfulness and desire to write a book. Can I have some of that please?)

Here’s a quote from her book:

There’s a quote from philosopher George Santayana, whose proposition all of us should heed: “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” I believe he’s telling us that instead of wistfully looking back at what we once had, or anxiously imagining what might come, we ought to be seeking what satisfactions, what pleasures, what meaning, the season we’re in has to offer us.

She is almost 90 and she wants to live in the moment. Find the best joy in the moment. Who’s kidding who? That’s an enviable goal for all of us.

I recently discovered the extent of joy my own 88-year-old mother Ginny has found in the most unusual of places. She is mesmerized by Tiger Woods and watching him play golf.

My mother has neither golfed in her life nor did any family member of her generation, but she adores watching Tiger. My husband Dennis (who is a golfer) will call her and tell her that there is a major tournament on a particular weekend and that Tiger made the cut. He’ll also tell her which network is carrying it. Given her interest, she is usually aware, but not always and she’ll thank him as she heads to the television.

I have made the mistake of calling Ginny during a tournament. She’ll answer the phone, but after a couple of minutes, I’ll realize that I’ve lost her as her play-by-play begins.

“Wait, Tiger’s up, he’s looking at something, oh what’s happening here (suddenly I hear the crowd, so I know he took his shot) and she continues “Ohhhh, he got it close to the hole” and on and on. There’s no competition to who is capturing her interest.

I love that she loves Tiger. And when he won the Masters this past April? Look no further for a sign of her devotion than this newspaper clipping collage that my own mother placed on a wall in her condo. I have never seen her do anything like this in my entire life. I was dumbfounded when I turned the corner and saw it.

“What do you think?” she asked grinning.

“I’m blown away” was my truly honest answer.

What speaks to her about Tiger? I really don’t know because she has never been able to verbalize it. His strength? Sheer will? She has both qualities. Somehow she seems to lock into the challenges right there beside him – living vicariously through his struggles and his triumphs.  And he’s a champion. And the camera loves him. Ultimately, I guess her reasons for her joy don’t really matter. The bottom line is she has it.

Ginny’s birthday will be here soon and she’ll be receiving a throw pillow with Tiger’s golf swing in silhouette. When the 2019 tournaments end, she can sit by the pillow and contentedly look forward to the seasons changing once again; to the golf season of course.

How does (or did) your parents find joy? What inspires them? Please feel free to leave a comment below.


  1. My mom sought out “joy and gladness” as she’d say, everyday- TV sports? Check. Golf (of course) baseball, hockey, basketball but mostly Tennis and NADAL (what? We are not a tennis family). She was crazy about it. No clippings though! Her other joys came from her deep connections with family and friends but always from nature: birds especially and they beach , sun, trees flowers … My siblings and I always comment when we’re together and a bird comes by that it’s Mom checking us out.

    Thanks Mel for continuing to find the joy!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing Liz. I love that it was an everyday goal for your mom to seek out joy and gladness. What a positive message. And now her joys can be your joys as a bird flies or lands nearby and you can think of her. I should share that I know my mom has other joys (such as spending time with family), but she is very inward and can’t express them….except for Tiger!! She’s letting the whole world know her feelings there haha. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. It’s very appreciated.


  3. I believe he’s telling us that instead of wistfully looking back at what we once had, or anxiously imagining what might come, we ought to be seeking what satisfactions, what pleasures, what meaning, the season we’re in has to offer us.

    This phrase is absolutely beautiful. So much truth in this statement, as you said; no matter what age you are.

    Thank you again Melanie for a beautifully written piece. I’m missing my mom very much but she will return soon at the end of this month. I feel confident that this length of a trip will be the last one she makes. We speak often on the phone but I can tell she is very ready to come home and I’m very ready to have her back. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks V. I admire that she made that extended trip happen and she found a lot of joy in it. Good for her. And she’ll only find more on her return. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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