Crossing Seventy: Moments of Outrageous Aging takes seventy out of the closet and portrays one woman’s thoughts and experiences as she embraces life and inspires us to do the same. Not self-help, and not a tome about aging, Crossing Seventy instead shares highly personal observations and vivid scenes of days lived center stage at an age when many believe it’s time to get ready for the final curtain.
A trip to Lucca, Italy when she was sixty-nine jolted Dee Montalbano into possibilities that were richer, more expansive, and more fun than she had ever imagined. Returning annually to Tuscany, and either housesitting or renting an apartment for long-term stays, she lives the daily life of a resident, not a tourist. We see her chasing her canine charges through olive groves, contemplating a recalcitrant Italian washing machine, and doing the minuet of buying stamps in a rural Italian post office. Beyond Italy, there is Tanzania where she finds a heart connection with a group of young Swahili speaking women as she tries to teach them English. And back in the United States, she struggles to convince a nurse that she takes no medications, and ponders a cremation offer that has an expiration date.
But any life is not all happy talk. Crossing Seventy also includes Montalbano’s thoughtful reflections on education, war, retirement, and what she learned from having an affair with a man who was thirteen years younger. Reading this medley of short pieces, we hear the voice of a wise woman who grounds the diversity of her experiences in the recurring themes of letting go, marrying intuition to action, living in the senses, and slowing the rhythm of our lives. At seventy plus, her answer to the question “Who am I?” is . . . “I AM!”