The book begins with Fitzpatrick highlighting the reality that change is inevitable, and that the changes we experience as women at this time of life are only the beginning of a bigger change: leaving this world for the next. No, that's not a morbid thing. It's a reality. Fitzpatrick reminds us that we are always in a phase that is taking us toward the redemption from our mortal bodies, and this time of life is no exception. She reminds us that the changes here are a welcome reminder of what is to come:
God has been kind to us by force-feeding us with change: change of home, change of job, change of family situation. He's been kind in that he's reminding us that this really isn't our home, that we're supposed to be looking for a different one. (p. 39)Following this, the next chapter encourages afternoon women to be women of valor. Using Proverbs 31 (Now, don't groan! It's a wonderful exposition) Fitzpatrick defines valiant:
The Hebrew word translated "valiant" and "valiantly" hayil, is primarily a military term meaning "strength, efficiency, wealth, army." (p. 31)She goes on to show what a valiant woman is like. The valiant woman is not about physical battles, but about standing strong in the Lord. A valiant woman trusts in the Lord, not in herself, and she is a servant:
The valiant woman testifies that the purpose of my life is not me or personal gain but fruitful service to those whom the Lord has given me to steward. (p. 44)With this foundation laid, Fitzpatrick discusses issues that are a concern for older women:
- Being alone with husbands once again
- Releasing our children as they leave home
- Having married children and grandchildren
- The challenges of living with adult children who have returned home
- Coping with aging and dying parents
- Physical challenges
- Areas of service
This is just a sample of the questions. If you want to know more, you'll have to read the book.
- Is there a will? Who is the executor? Where is the will kept?
- Is there an insurance policy? With whom? Who is the beneficiary?
- Who is your parents' physician? What medications are they on?
- Have you discussed long-term care with your parents and siblings? What are your parents' preferences? (p. 158)
I really enjoyed this book, but I did notice that most of it was directed to women who are married or are mothers. I think it would be valuable to consider what kinds of challenges women face as they age if they are single through being widowed, divorced, or having never married. A woman may find herself dealing with all of the issues discussed in the book, and on top of it all, she may be doing it alone. I know a woman at my weekly bible study who is retired and has never married. She faces issues such as loneliness, health concerns, maintaining her home and vehicle, and caring for an aging parent on her own. I think it's difficult at times. I think it would be interesting to see how a single woman my age, with no children, would receive Fitzpatrick's book.
With that aside, I heartily recommend this book; and don't wait until you are over 40 to read it. I heard a lot about some of the physical difficulties of this age when I was younger, but I was not entirely prepared for how acute they could be, and how that could affect how I handled other situations. Above all, the reminder that this world is not our home is one that is needed for all women, not just those of us in the afternoon.