• Stephanie Hammond

How long will I live?

It may seem to be a funny question. I know I can’t possibly know the answer. None of us do, do we?

What I do know is: I want to live a long long life - and from where I sit, that means I want to live until I’m at least 140! This photo is an artist's impression of what I might look like then. Hair should be white!

So, at 70, I’m middle aged. And that’s official! Check out the report from WHO below.

I didn’t always think it was possible that I

would live to even 40. So convinced was I that I would die ‘soon’ that every year in my mid to late 30s I wrote each of my seven children a love letter, telling them

all the good things I perceived about them and how much I loved them and was grateful for them. I wanted them to feel my love and feel good about themselves when I was gone. I was convinced I would die before I was 40. So each year when I was still here, I’d write them all another letter and burn the one I’d written the year before.

However, the closer I got to 40, I came to believe that I just might live. I was still healthy. I turned 40 and then that cliche “life begins at 40” took on a very special meaning to me.

Instead of my life ending at 40, I look back on that date as the beginning of an exciting chapter of my life. One that I never envisaged.

For the first 40 years of my life, I was anticipating death. There’s a lot of reasons for that that I could see - death was a close companion from childhood. I’m sure this affected me at a core level. I looked death in the face for several of my pregnancies. Younger people than I were also dying. I didn’t see life. I saw death. And I saw my death.

Then I started looking at my life in decades. My 40s were the years of finishing my university education, doing my Masters, and starting to set goals - realistic and believable goals even if they were only for the next five years. I started working as a planner during this decade and found I had skills and that I could make a difference.

My 50s were my decade for setting down roots and for travelling. I bought a little unit. I travelled to the USA for a conference I mentioned in a previous blog post, and to my son and daughter-in-law’s graduations in Hawaii. I stood for election (ran for office) as a member of parliament (I didn’t win the seat, but didn’t disgrace myself or my party). I travelled to Greece. I said goodbye to my mother. And I started my own planning consultancy. I went to live in the USA and here I celebrated my 60th birthday. I wrote the draft of my first novel. I became a writer.

My 60s were my decade of consolidation. I said goodbye to many old habits and ideas that weren’t serving any good purpose in my life. I opened myself to meeting my soulmate and we married and began a new chapter for me, one of a happy, contented partner. And my health started to deteriorate. And towards the end of this decade my health started to improve.

Now I’m at the beginning of the decade of my 70s. My health has continued to improve and a chronic debilitating illness is in remission. I’m happily scoping out ‘things that are possible’ during this decade. Finally write a sequel to that novel. Write more children’s stories. Try more physical things that I’ve never mastered before (like a forward roll). Read more. Write more. Learn more - oh yes, learn more!

I have a lot more projects on my list, and I add to them daily. Lots to experience and enjoy before my life is over. And I’m confident that there’s many healthy fit years ahead. I’m looking forward to all the decades to come until I reach that magical age of 140. And, as one wise person once said to me, “Why limit myself with a number?” So you see, there’s plenty of time for us to meet along our life’s journeys. I’ll be seeing you!

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