Second Chances After Fifty: Jeanette Winterson, in ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?’

Photo by Chris Boland

Today (October 2, 2015) I turn fifty. This is officially the first age that has freaked me out. Fifty? How can I be fifty? Fifty is how old grandparents are, or how old my grandparents were when I was born, anyway. And I haven’t even been a parent. Fifty is how old Maggie Estep was when she died, tragically, suddenly. I haven’t yet done enough with my life, haven’t done enough of the writing and publishing and other things I’ve meant to do.

You can imagine, then, how comforting it was–and perfectly timed, just before my birthday–to come upon these lines in Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Jeanette Winterson’s excellent 2012 memoir of coming to understand herself after breaking free from her religious fanatic adoptive mother, embracing her sexuality, and meeting her birth mother:

“I know now, after fifty years, that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, never stops. The whole of life is about another chance, and while we are alive, till the very end, there is always another chance.”

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