86 AARP THE MAGAZINE • Real Possibilities
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 77
acting, too. I have young kids and
want to see them through a certain
stage. I want to give them advice,
but I know they’re not going to listen. So I tell them, “Ask me. Whatever you’ve been through, I’m sure
I’ve been close to that.” I always
want to be there for them. That’s
the most important thing in my life
at this point.
MD: I realize now how much has
changed from having had cancer.
As an actor, I’m freer. I have no fear.
When I look at myself as a younger
actor, I see what a tightass I was. I
had a pretty big shadow because
of my father. I was self-conscious
about that. And I agree with Bobby
about life outside acting. I’ve got a
13-year-old and a 10-year-old, and
cherish the time with them. My
priorities are changing. I love my
career. But I have other things that,
as I get older, I care more about.
What do you hope lies ahead?
MD: Work is what keeps you going. I look at my father. Kirk is 96
and finishing his 10th novel. We
all know people who retired at 50
and just got old. If you retire, you
better know what you’re going to
do with yourself. Because we’re
living much longer lives.
MF: Hey, if I don’t have a job, I don’t
know why I bother to get up. Any
time the phone rings, I’m ready
to go. What else am I going to do?
Retire? I don’t know what it means.
RD: I feel optimistic about things.
You certainly don’t want to think
that the worst is yet to come.
MF: I sometimes ask myself, “If
you had a chance to live your life
over and make changes, would
you?” I wouldn’t. Can’t look back.
It’s gone OK, and I just keep moving forward.
KK: It’s like, “What’s the best role
you’ve ever played?” The next one.
RD: That’s right. We don’t know
what lies ahead. So I’m only going
to think about the best.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 74
in 2011. In the course of a typical day,
I will meet with my editorial team,
many of them twenty- and thirtysomethings, and their smarts and
passion inspire me.
Among these young guns is my
niece Kate, a film wiz who helped
me create my site. As a documentary
journalist, she knew how to shoot on
the fly; and as a longtime producer, I
knew how to tell a story. Our collaboration was ageless.
And then after work, I’ll go out to
dinner with some of my pals whom
I’ve worked with in television. My
dear old friend from my That Girl
days, writer Bill Persky ( 83 going on
39), is a favorite dinner date. He puts
life in perspective for me, and never
fails to remind me that getting older
is just a state of mind.
“At least 197 of the 206 bones in
my body are telling me to stop,” he
once said to me, “but, fortunately,
my brain doesn’t listen.” Billy always
makes me laugh, and laughter crosses all generations.
And I’ve always felt that way.
That’s because the people I’ve chosen
to be with since the very beginning—
from my father’s friends to Billy to the
younger people who work with me on
my website—have always been funny
and smart and engaging. And if you’re
entertaining, it doesn’t matter to me if
you’re 17 or 70—I’m interested.
John Lennon once noted, “Count
your age by friends, not years. Count
your life by smiles, not tears”—and
I truly believe that. In the end, the
people with whom we share life are
our own beautiful melting pot: the
peers with whom we talk in shorthand (and we trust to get our jokes!),
the younger people who open our
eyes to new and fascinating things,
the elders if we’re fortunate enough
to still have them in our lives. That’s
the big secret of intergenerational
bonding: It knows no age.
Actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas
appears online at marlothomas.com.
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