Standing there will all my “sweet sixteen” arrogance and defiant posturing, hands firmly planted on my hips and voice breathing fire, I stared down my mother and shouted “How would know what it is like to be in love!? You were never young!”

My forty-eight year old mother with all her wisdom and patience stood there with a gentle smirk on her crimson red lips, patted me on the shoulder and replied, “How do you think you got here?” Then she quietly left the room. In that moment I knew how stupid I had been. Of course she was young once. You don’t get to mid life from out of nowhere. She had also been in love…several times…but most significantly and deepest with my father…hence four, sometimes very snotty, children.

Fast forward nearly thirty-nine years and I find myself having a conversation with a delightful and precocious eight-year-old who I have known her whole young life.

“Jackie what are you doing these days?”

“Well, Elizabeth I am still teaching dance and I am selling houses to people who need a new home.”

“You are?”

“Yes, and when you’re ready I will help you find your dream house.”

Elizabeth, without hesitation, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Oh Jackie, you’ll be dead by then!” Realizing by the shocked looked on my face that she might of touched a sensitive chord, she continue, “Well, maybe you won’t be dead, but you will be really old!”

Rather annoyed at her youthful honesty I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry.  The painful reality of her response was…it was true.  At the moment, I am fifty-five.  Elizabeth is eight.  Do the math. She won’t be ready to buy a house for probably twenty-five years. At eighty, I hope I’m still here, but dream I’m retired and traveling the world.

I’m one of the early “baby boomers” and I’m constantly being reminded that senior citizenship is right around the corner (did you know you get an extra 10% off on Tuesdays at Ross when you hit fifty-five?). I try to not dwell on the fact that this is my next step to this road I call my life but, fortunately, I have this little weekly activity call “dance” where the children help to keep me real.

“Jackie, are you a grown up?”  Six year old Marissa asked as we were leaving class one day.

‘Don’t I look like one.” I sheepishly asked not really wanting to know the answer.

“Well, you look like one, but don’t act like one!”

In that dear moment I truly believe was heaven sent a light clicked on inside my heavily shrouded head. It is not about your chronological age, body or face.  It is not whether you can still run a marathon or dance until the cows come home. It is not even about how sharp your brain is, “Now, why did I come into this room?” It is about your spirit and how old you want to be. Both my grandmother and mother lived deep, full and rich lives.  When asked “what was your favorite age” the independently of each other replied, “My thirty’s.  I was still young in body, but had developed great wisdom and inner strength to deal with everything that came my way.” To the day they both died (Grammy at one hundred and one and mom at eighty-six) they were hot chicks that were “really with it.”

“Don’t you just love those polka dot mini dresses the girls are wearing these days. How do you think I would look in one,” Grandma, then eighty, asked my mom.

“Yes, aren’t they adorable? But you will need the white “go go” boots to accessorize and I don’t think your bunions will allow that.” my mom replied.

“Watch me!”

While I like to think all my years were good I would have to agree with these characters.  My thirties were great as well, especially thirty-five.  All four of my kids were born by then.  I could still out run and out think all of them. My body was not beginning to show the signs of degradation gravity brings, but most importantly….I too had developed  wisdom only life’s experience brings a person.

From this point on…I plan to be forever thirty-five in my mind.  And with that extra 10% off on Tuesdays at Ross, I will gladly except it.  I earned it and run right to the junior section to buy my clothes.  Be forever young…pick that age and keep it fresh in your mind.