This article is part of the Agewell topic. Below are more articles in this topic.
By Mike Milstein
Maryan Hughes was born, grew up, and spent most of her life in England, but has traveled widely and squeezed life for all it is worth. Whether dealing with sorrows or joys, she believes that life is to be lived to the fullest measure. For example “I married at an early age. It all went wrong. I divorced my husband, which was the most enormous trauma in my life at that stage. It taught me that the only way was up. Get over it quickly. I took on heavy jobs, things that kept me occupied and challenged.”
Since then “I have taken opportunities which have arisen. If I want to do something that comes up, I do it. Going to Switzerland is a case in point. I saw an ad for a school nurse (matron) to work for 3 months. I always wanted to go to Switzerland to ski so I applied. I got the job and stayed three years. I also taught French there after taking classes for 3 months. When opportunities occur you should jump at them. It’s exciting. It leads to other things.”
Remarrying at age 40, she and husband Anthony adopted two children, a 7 month old and a 9 week old, in the same year. “It was a steep learning curve for me, a most interesting time. I’ve always left the children to do their own thing. I have never felt I needed to control them. Getting them to stand on their own two feet is one of the best things I could do for them.”
Anthony’s work took the family to South Africa for 10 years, after which they searched for a place they would like to retire. They came to New Zealand, traveled the country in a camper van before deciding that Nelson is where they wanted to settle. “We went back and packed up and we’ve been here about 10 years now.”
Maryan stays active physically and mentally. “I was a nurse for a lot of my working life. I’m interested in people and what makes them tick. I spent 4 years in Life Line in Africa. The counseling made quite a difference in my life and, I hope, other peoples’.”
“We have a wonderful neighbor who introduced us to our Probus group. We’ve made more friends here than anywhere else. Probus is such a friendly, kind, happy group of people.” Not surprisingly, Maryan is a Past President of the Trafalgar Probus club.
She believes that the best way of dealing with ageing is “to accept it. If we go on living we can’t do anything about it. I do object to becoming less mobile and the brain not working as well as it used to. I try to keep it active with hobbies and crossword puzzles. I also read a lot. I especially like reading biographies about how people handled their lives through bad times and good. If you have bad times you just need to get on with it.”
Just past 80, Maryan says “I’m now the older generation. Our children are parents.” Her advice to others in this life space is to “be interested in whatever is going on around you—in your children and grandchildren, but also other people. Be aware of their abilities, problems, and needs. Do what you can. But you also have to be able to learn to say no when you can’t do things. Don’t take on too much.”
Note: This article was published in The Leader, Nelson, NZ, on October 1, 2009, summarizes an interview aired by Fresh FM that was conducted by Dr. Annie Henry and sponsored by Age Concern, Nelson. If you want to share your thoughts with the Conscious Ageing Network (CAN) or wish to know when interviews will be aired and when CAN articles will appear in the Leader, send an email to email@example.com.