Growing Older: Reader Essay by Bernadette Jahns

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2017

W2017_GrowingOlderBernadetteJahns_Inline300 I live alone in a cabin on the lakeshore in the north woods enjoying quiet and beauty. A few months ago, talking with my daughter in her 50s, she suddenly blurted out that she was old. I said, “You’re not old.” She said yes she was. “Then what am I?” I asked. We both said simultaneously, “older.”

The thing that matters as you age is that you do it in relatively good health without a lot of fuss about unimportant concerns. There’s nothing I wish I’d known sooner, because I have pretty much done what I wanted to do, even if there was risk. Getting older is an adventure. I’ve had heartbreaking events in my life, but I’ve managed to maintain some semblance of normalcy. The best thing about being my age is looking back and seeing all that’s been achieved in spite of the world’s tragedies.

Late romance can be fortunate, but too often there is expectation, then disappointment—like life.

I went to grad school to receive my masters of public health at age 42 in 1977. I lived at Comstock with the women of various ages, pursuing different goals. All of it was exciting, enlightening, and fun. That 15 months was the best time of my life. It was great!

- Bernadette Jahns (M.P.H. ’77), Phelps, Wisconsin

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