I was 63 when I had my first published article. Two years ago, I submitted an entry to a writing contest in another newspaper about one’s favorite book. My winning was a pleasant surprise as the entry was published months after submission; I had assumed it was rejected. One Sunday, I saw the title of my article in bold letters; my first thought was, that’s my title, then my eyes went to the picture beside it, and there was my photo. The sensation after that was indescribable even now; I was jumping up and down in our bedroom, unable to contain my excitement.
That first published work was the shot in the arm I needed to revive my dream of becoming a published writer. I’ve had my share of rejections through the years, and I had just about given up on this dream. Who would have thought that at my age, there is still hope for me to do things that I’ve long dreamed of? And barely a few months later, I had another article published in a Cebu daily. My first published work is the potent motivation for me to persevere and continue writing.
I retired early in 2007 because after 26 years with Philippine Airlines, I found that my job had deteriorated into routine and it had become more difficult to handle the ever-increasing demands of passengers. Or was it just me becoming touchy with age? Also, the commute, even if I had a car, had become extremely stressful because I drove myself. It came to a point that I got a sudden affliction of vertigo and was scared to drive alone. That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.
After retirement I went into business for a couple of years, but I discovered that business was not for me. I have been working for our local government as a consultant for over a year now.
And it’s an eye-opener in terms of public service. I am inspired to work on projects that would make a difference to the marginalized sector in our community. One such project that I was able to see through until its approval by the Department of Trade and Industry is that under its Shared Services Facilities program, abaca growers will be provided with stripping machines. These will do away with the back-breaking task of manually extracting the abaca fiber and will be a big help in their livelihood.
Indeed, it is a great feeling that at my age I am still able to give back to our community.
Being a late bloomer may mean paying it forward in a bigger and wider scope. I’ve come to realize that I love public service and being able to make a difference, even in a small way, to my community. I feel a renewed sense of purpose even in the afternoon stage of life. At present, I am working on a new livelihood project, solely for a women’s association in a mountain barangay.
And there is one aspect of my life now that I wouldn’t have known I could do quite well if I hadn’t retired: Painting. I’ve loved the arts even when I was still with the work force. I was into various do-it-yourself projects that also became my small sideline at the time: Making scented candles and faux flower arrangements, which I was able to sell to friends and colleagues. I had dreamed of trying my hand at painting for like forever, but I wondered if I had the talent—and at any rate I didn’t have the time to find out if I could do it.
After my business venture flopped, I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. My DIY projects were no longer as enjoyable as before, and I looked around for something new to do. I asked my nephew, who paints as a hobby, what sort of materials a beginner painter needed. He promised to give me a list, and somehow I thought he had forgotten all about it. I was not inclined to take up painting lessons despite my interest.
But a few months later, my nephew came bearing a Christmas gift: all kinds of paints (watercolor, acrylic, oil), several sets of paintbrushes, and a book on painting for beginners. I am so grateful to him for starting me on this very enjoyable hobby.
It has been two years since I’ve taken up painting and always, there is joy in doing it. And wonder of wonders: I am quite good at it. I have even been able to sell some of my works, and a few of them were included in a recent city exhibit. Just like my writing, painting has become an all-consuming passion. About a year ago, I started a blog which is now my outlet for writing.
With my job as a consultant, writing at least twice a week in my blog, and painting during my spare time, usually on weekends, I have a generally fulfilling and productive week. The yearly travels with my husband and friends are also great escapes from everyday life. I’ve realized that the afternoon stage of one’s life still offers so much more new and interesting aspects. I’ve never felt so reinvigorated and energized and given a new sense of purpose.
And this late bloomer finds the experience very liberating.
Marilyn D. Oppus, 65, says: Being a childless and retiree couple, my husband and I love to go on trips yearly. My blog, Wonderfulvignettes.com, moves me to keep writing.