Karen Hewitt has a box of personal snapshots that look like back issues of Smash…
These days, we know age is no barrier to experience and youth is no barrier to wisdom.
For our latest HerCanberra Magazine: Time, we asked eight women across eight decades what life has taught them.
As a recently-minted 80-year-old, Marie defies many expectations of an octogenarian.
After a fulfilling career in nursing, Marie spends her retirement trying out new dance classes, catching up with friends and is a regular Zumba participant. Her latest challenge? Skydiving.
What has the last year taught you?
As I turned 80, I learnt that it didn’t mean that I would stop being able to take on new challenges [and] that it was important to make peace with family members I find difficult and say sorry for hurts I’ve caused.
I’m blessed to have lived this long and loving each other—even those who you don’t agree with—enables all to grow.
You have a try-anything attitude—what makes you so fearless?
I have never thought of myself as fearless, but my friend tells me she thinks I am. I guess it’s because growing up I went to five different schools (because my dad was a school teacher who didn’t think it right to teach his own children).
Living in the country we had a lot of freedom, plus I was—and still am—an avid reader, so lots of my ideas came from books. I get a lot of pleasure from trying new things and doing them on my own—I meet lots of interesting and fun people.
What are the biggest misconceptions about getting old?
The biggest misconception is that getting old means you can’t take on new challenges. I feel that some of the restrictions are a state of mind, and there are many older people living productive and useful lives who are not seen.
What are some of the things you’ve done later in life that might surprise people?
I had a great partner in my husband, but when he died, I had to get on without him so I learnt to manage paying bills and banking and shopping online (not good for the bank balance).
I also took myself to London, hired a car and drove to Cornwall, and took a back roads tour of Croatia and Montenegro—I met very interesting people and had a great time.
What are things you’d still love to see or do?
I’ve always thought it would be fun to drive a Formula 1 car but I guess that’s out of the question now! I’d also like to go to Argentina to learn to dance the tango and I hope to visit Morocco. But at the moment I’m planning to demolish my current house and build two units on the block which will be more suitable living as I get older. I feel very blessed to have my health and my wonderful family and friends, so I can live life to the full.
What are your biggest fears for the future?
My fears for the future, are that the people in power at present won’t listen and act for the betterment of all—but I have great hope in the youth as I feel that they will build a better world for all people.
PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Bean
This article originally appeared in Magazine: Time (AW2020), available to read free online.
Read it here.