Monday, October 24, 2016

A closer look at thriving


Here we are, deep in October, looking November right in the eye. Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and my eightieth birthday not far behind. For reasons I won’t bore you with, it feels like an appropriate time to revisit my own personal October and November, and my sometimes stumbling attempts to thrive in late life. After all, if I presume to help others make the most of their time, it seems like I should be willing to account for my own efforts. Beside, this is a Writer’s Blog, and I am a self-proclaimed writer. With that dubious excuse, I believe I will step up and have my say?
Let me begin with a question. What were you doing in May, 2005? It was only eleven-plus years ago. You can’t have forgotten so soon. So try again. Is there anything about that time that stands out in your memory? There certainly is for me. 
Like some of you I had already dabbled a bit at story telling by then. In fact there were two book-length manuscripts buried somewhere in a back closet, waiting to see the light of day. That is where things stood on that May day, way back in 2005. After seven year of retirement the golden promise of that time was beginning to tarnish, and the urge to write again was bubbling to the surface. It was then, with absolutely no pre-planning of any sort, that I began to sense the sort of story I would be telling.
I have noted before in these pages how my 50th high school reunion, just a month away at the time, served as the launching pad for the Harris brothers’ Second Chances story, and set me on an unexpected journey that would eventually have me addressing a wide range of late-life, October Years topics.
Without realizing where my renewed enthusiasm was leading me, the Harris brothers had laid the foundation for what would become the Tanner Chronicles---a series (ten so far, with eleven on its way.) of October and November appropriate relational stories, each of them dealing with late-life issues, and set in a place I call Tanner, which happens to look a lot like my hometown. A visit to this Amazon Author’s Page provides a quick overview of where this retirement project of mine has taken me. To further elaborate, what follows are thumbnail capsules of each Tanner Chronicles story.

Second Chances -- The Harris brothers are nearing 70, widowed and lonely. It is their 50th high school reunion that stirs long-forgotten feelings, and exposes unexpected possibilities for one more chance.

Long Way Home    -- The Harris’ determined pursuit continues, with even more drama, wins and losses, while seeking their elusive Second Chance.

Becoming    -- Carl and Jack are in their mid-sixties. It may look like they are treading water, yet each of them nurses late-life dreams, intent on proving Carl's stubborn belief that we never stop "becoming," even in October.

Going Poor -- Lane’s ultimate destination is there for the world to see. He is Going Poor. Actually, he is already there. Now he must decide if  he is willing to pay the price for something better?

Going Home -- Going home may trigger warm memories. For Tom Fedder the thought of it produces only dread, and unpleasant recollections of a past he would rather forget---at least  until he senses those unexpected feelings for her, the ones he was sure he had put aside years before. 

Best Friends and Promises -- Aaron learns that best friends are more important than he expected. His wife has been carried away by dementia, and his lifelong friend in is the ICU. Will his new lady friend’s comforting presence make things better or worse?

Breathing Underwater -- Facing an unexpected ‘underwater’ future, Jim and Anita must downsize. Given their nearly opposite ways of dealing with that depressing situation the ensuing drama is probably predictable, and certainly more complicated than they had imagined.

Family Matters -- They had waited anxiously for the arrival of their “golden years.” But now Dan and Nell cannot agree on a retirement agenda. They are miles apart when their daughter arrives just in time to hear them debating about ‘home’---what it means and where it is.

October Bold -- They are such an unlikely pair. Their circumstances could not be more different. To make matters worse, their natural timidity constrains their wanting. Something new is required---perhaps something as unlikely as October Bold.

Conversations With Sarah -- For decades Hank has relied on Sarah’s common sense counsel. Suddenly he is alone, fighting off the 'wily widows' and facing relational challenges he had never imagined. When he needs his Sarah the most she is gone, or is she?

October Years -- A compilation of more than fifty of these October Years blog posts

Sadly, though the Amazon catalog lists dozens of categories in its “fiction” offerings, “Senior relational fiction” is not one of them. (Disclaimer--when writing about 70 year olds I prefer “relational” to “romance.” That must be a guy thing.) So if hulky, bare-chested Alpha males are your thing, you won’t find them in the stories listed above. On the other hand if late-life reality---complete with Beta males who would like to feel that way again, but know their limits---appeals to you I invite you to check out one these Tanner Chronicles stories.
And that, my friend, is an abbreviated look at how I have attempted to thrive in late-life. Hopefully you have created your own form of October Years coping. To be sure, thriving is a very personal thing. If something works for you, there is no need for a second opinion. 
Remember, you’ve read about an eighty year-old guy who gets his kicks writing about lonely seniors who want something more from life. If he can look the world in the eye and say that’s his thing, you can do the same with whatever you’ve decided to pursue.
If you would care to share your ‘thriving’ story I urge you to leave a Comment below. Beyond that, if you know someone whose fictional tastes might include the Tanner Chronicles I hope you will pass this post along to them.

See you next time.

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