Thoughts about my new memoir

As my husband is about to turn eighty-two and I am closing in at age turning seventy-nine this year, I felt that I’m at that stage in my life when I have almost all of it to look back on. That thought led me to the idea of writing a memoir from an old wise woman’s approach to turning eighty. I could write about the secrets of staying married to the same man for over forty-eight years and living in the same house for thirty-nine years. Really where have all those years gone? And really that brings up another big question – how much time do my husband and I have left anyway, and what are we doing to prepare for our last years? Or better yet, how we’re handling our lives right now as we age – at different paces. Yes, the options are endless: how we’re still working at surviving the loss of our son in 1999, what we eat, how we sleep, my health and exercise program, about our travels, and what do two people at our age do all day.

I’ve gotten a good head start on this project and have written almost forty-thousand words. Here’s the outline I’m writing to, though I’ll probably add and change items as I go along. Perhaps you have some thoughts about it. I’d love to receive your input.

A brief outline…

  1. What stage of life I am in right now
  2. A little looking back
  3. What I see when I look in the mirror
  4. What is my daily routine
  5. What I do to take care of myself
  6. How much I like my privacy and alone time
  7. My physical maladies
  8. My emotional life
  9. My depression
  10. I say I’m a writer, but what do I really write
  11. My writing routine
  12. My volunteer life: South Bay Cares and now WriteGirl
  13. My married life
  14. How has my son’s death affected my life now
  15. Children in our lives
  16. How I spend my time
  17. Friends and relatives and the part they play in my life
  18. What do I see for the future
  19. What’s next on my bucket list
  20. What about end of life directives
  21. My beliefs or lack thereof of an afterlife, and my lack of a spiritual life
  22. What advice would I give to those heading my way
  23. How I feel about turning eighty and my imminent death


  1. Madeline, I love your idea and all the topics you’ve listed above. Many years ago I read most of May Sarton’s memoirs, about aging and her health. Each decade she wrote another journal. Gave me my love of memoirs. You will do a fabulous job writing yours and I will be standing on line to buy my copy, maybe finally meet you at a book signing.

  2. Sharen Sherman says

    Hi Madeline,
    It is interesting how suddenly one wakes up and realizes there is a limited time left and starts thinking a bit differently. Another thought when happily married to the same person for so many years, (we have been married 54 yrs plus 5 hrs together before that) is the idea that odds are one of us will decease before the other. The idea of suddenly being without one’s partner is almost overwhelming. I look forward to your writings on this overall subject.

  3. Hi Madeline, Good luck. I have been working on my third memoir about being a woman alone, no longer married or even thinking about getting married, alone with her writing and her dog and her sons, grown as they are, but offering emotional support. I like the topics you have listed as a way to move forward with the memoir. In response to Barbara, May Sarton was an influence on this latest memoir. Honestly, though, I have to wonder…who will be interested in Susan Weidener’s take on “a woman alone”? Still, I keep plugging away at it, much of it already on my blog, Women’s Writing Circle, and you serve as inspiration to keep going.

    • Madeline Sharples says

      Thank you Susan. Who knows if either of us will produce block busters. I just know that I have to keep writing so it might as well be about something important to me and going on in my life right now.

  4. Dear Madeline, you have set before us a beautiful exercise here, with probably some changes along the outline. I think whether I have intent to publish it or not this is something I want to attempt to write. Bob turns 81 in April and I hit 73 in February. We’ve had 37 wonderful years together, with many hard times along with the way with children, illnesses, family deaths, and more. But the combination of the ups with the downs has kept us clinging to that moment we knew we loved each other and always would. Thanks for tipping the flow on my writing toward at least the thought processes. It will be fun to contemplate while I continue to wait for my next surgery.

    • Madeline Sharples says

      Thank you Sherrey! You should go for it too. We all have our own stories to tell. Hope your next surgery is your last

  5. If you bring your usual voice of honesty, compassion and understanding to the project ( and I know you will) , what a contribution this will make! I’m eager to see where it takes you. Love your outline AND if muse takes you off course, trust that!?!?

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