The New Faces of Retirement: Rose’s Story

Rose Weaver takes issue with anything labelled anti-aging, particularly cosmetics. “Anti-aging is a negative message sent out to women,” she says. “That’s why I am totally pro-aging.”

Rose is a dynamic 67-year old who questions many conventions about getting older, including a typical view of retirement. Rather than thinking of retirement as the end of a career, Rose considers it a time of reinvention, of “turning over the hourglass.”

“I learned from my grandmother, who was a midwife in rural Georgia,” she muses, “that we turn over the hourglass several times as we go through life stages. She said that when that sand runs through, we can’t get it back. We have to prepare for change and embrace it.”

Rose has spent most of her life in the spotlight as an actor, singer, writer and educator. Born the daughter of sharecroppers, she worked her way through Wheaton College in Massachusetts, at one point entering (and winning) a beauty contest for scholarship money. In college and beyond, Rose was focused on using all her talents to advance the arts as an educational tool.

Eventually, she became an acting company member at Tony-award winning Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI. Between shows, she also worked in television and movies.

She says that the challenges of aging hit her hard — and almost onstage — when she was an older actor. “During one particular show, I was about to make an entrance, and I couldn’t remember my lines. I knew them, but I couldn’t remember them. It was a scary moment.”

She recovered quickly from the incident, and recalls that “No one knew but me and another actor.” In fact, that brief memory lapse inspired her to do some research on Alzheimer’s, which became the basis for a play about her grandmother. “I find that I learn about things by writing about them,” she says. She eventually had enough writing work to apply as a mature student to Brown University, where she earned her MFA. Today, Rose has a number of published works, including a play with music that takes on the challenges and reality of menopause.

Retirement is not necessarily top-of-mind for working artists, who spend much of their career looking for work. That was generally true for Rose. While she maintained a pension through professional acting unions, she had a financial wake-up call about 15 years ago. “I realized I needed something more besides my pension — something that was more consistent and steady.” So Rose left her professional artist life for a nine-to-five job managing a series of seminars at UCLA. “It was great work, but it kept me from auditioning. It was a bit of a sacrifice. But saving during those years helped me to continue to do the work I want to do now.”

These days, Rose is as busy as she was as a full-time employee. She’s got a memoir in the works and is taking a writing seminar. She performs regularly as a singer with a jazz ensemble. She works out most days. “Well, not always,” she laughs. “I do Zumba, yoga, even Pilates. But you have to find out what’s good for your bones and joints. I learned that my knees do not like a treadmill.”

Rose even paid a recent visit to a career coach. “I realized I still have a career. It’s evolving, but it’s there. I don’t have to stop!”

Rose continues to reinvent herself in retirement. “I’m realizing that I can’t do everything by myself,” she says. “But that doesn’t stop me from holding onto the things that matter — my health, my work. I need to find things I can do that are sustainable and within my own control.”

One of Rose’s compositions is a song called “This Woman’s not Done”. “There’s so much more of me to live,” she writes. “And I love me; I love me for all of my years. And this woman’s not done.”

From all indications, this woman is Rose — a vital “pro-aging” woman with a vivid ongoing career, a strong positive outlook and so much more to live.