This profile is part of KCUR’s occasional series, Aging in Place. We’re showcasing the many different faces of 64 in metro Kansas City.
Name: Linda Salvay
Residence: Overland Park, Kansas
Occupation: “I’m discovering my next career as we speak because for most of my career I’ve been in corporate communications and recently left that. I’m trying to make a career about all the other things I love to do but didn’t have time for.”
What does 64 feel like? “It feels a lot like 54 or 44, except the bones creak a little more, but it doesn’t feel older, really. It’s just a number, really.”
What’s the biggest surprise or disappointment for you at this stage in your life? “I guess the biggest disappointment is that people see 64 as being old or it’s traditionally been considered the beginning of old age. It isn’t by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just a continuum. If you’re healthy and have your wits about you, you are just continuing on the same path you’ve been on since you were a young adult.”
When do you think you’ll retire and what will that look like? “My last position was eliminated, and in trying to go back out and find other, similar positions, I kind of felt ageism was creeping in there. ... So by default, I decided it was time to really do what I love. Not that I didn’t love what I was doing, but I have lots of things I love to do and really neglected my other hobbies and avocations for many years.”
Do you plan to spend the rest of your life in the KC area? ““We are planning to move to the Denver area in the next couple of years. We have a daughter who lives there now, and our other daughter who is the mother of two and expecting twins this summer, she and her husband and their family are planning to move to Denver. … There’s everything to recommend Kansas City, but my kids moved away, and they don’t intend to come back. I want to be close to family the last part of my life. I want to spend time with my grandchildren and be sure I get to know them and be an influence on their lives, and it’s hard to do that long distance.”
What’s your biggest worry? “Health concerns that might crop up at some point. Fortunately, my husband and I have been very healthy comparatively, and we intend to stay that way. But life throws you curves all the time. You never know what’s around the corner. Hopefully, we can stay healthy and vital and vibrant and continue doing what we do for years and years.”
Do you feel you get the support you need from your family, friends and community? “Let me put in terms of my parents’ generation. They built houses they loved and intended to live in until the very end of time, and my father managed to do that. He passed away last year at 94 and was in his little ranch house in St. Louis that he’d built with his own two hands. He wasn’t going anywhere. He said many times, ‘The only way I’m leaving this house is in a box.’ That’s exactly what happened. I’m not sure I want to do that. Then there was the situation with my mother-in-law who stayed in her house, a big two-story house, long after she should have moved. ... I live in a two-story house. I already complain about the stairs, and I’m not old yet, at least not in my own mind.”
What’s on your bucket list? “We’ve been to Europe, we’ve been to Israel. There’s a whole big world out there to see. As long as we’re mobile, it’s nice to think we could go see some of the exotic places in the world. I’m sure everybody says traveling. But just enjoying every day, which I don’t think people take time to do ... you’re so concerned about paying the bills and running the errands, all the minutia of life, people don’t just sit back and appreciate what they have.”
What do you think is the defining moment of your generation? “We were the hippy flower children in the early ’60s and early ’70s. I’d like to think that had a more permanent influence on how our generation has behaved. I look at the situation in the world now that we’re largely responsible for, our demographic, and I’m sorely disappointed in what we’ve done to the world and the condition we’ve left it in for our children and grandchildren.”
What’s your favorite song? “That’s not an easy one at all! I have a lot of favorite songs. Hmm. Well, I like Joni Mitchell’s ‘Circle Game.’ It’s one of the songs I learned to play guitar on. I could sing it for you.”
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.