For a long time Keaton believed she would never have kids, but all that changed when she turned 50. Happily-ever-after wasn't in the cards with the three great loves of her life: Allen, Beatty, and Pacino. "I never found a home in the arms of a man," she writes in the book. Asked now what held her back from ever getting married, Keaton is cryptic. "I think it was just my whole life. How I responded first to boys and then to men. It had nothing to do with reality." She adds: "Relationships are hard. You're lucky if you find someone."
But instead of being alone, Keaton filled her home with love. Dexter and Duke entered her world as Dorothy was fading from it. Simultaneously, Keaton became increasingly attuned to the realities of being an older mother herself. "I'm very aware that my dad died when he was 68, and my mother was in her early 70s when her brain really started to go," she says. "When I think about my kids in their 20s and 30s, and me in my 70s and 80s, I worry about that, definitely. I want to be there for them. I want my body and mind to stay strong, and to share all these life lessons. But I also know they need to have the freedom and independence to learn on their own."
Not that it's easy to stand back. "You see them growing and perceiving and changing," Keaton says. There's a look of awe in her eyes. Being a mother is a joy, but " love is work, too," she says. "It takes everything I have sometimes to not snuggle with Dexter. You know, at 16, you don't want to be snuggly any more. Sometimes I can pat her hair. Or if I'm lucky, I get a hug."
Dinner is Keaton's favorite time of day. With swim-team practice done and all eyes off gadgets, phones, and computers, the three Keatons sit and talk. "Oh, sure, I drive my kids crazy with, 'What do you think about this? What did that mean to you?' They're like, 'Stop, Mom!' So I'm learning to say less now." You can tell by her suppressed grin that Keaton isn't succeeding. "That's right. I'm learning to zip it up." Now she's laughing. "Well, I'm trying, at least. I really am."
Keaton's dream project isn't another book or movie, though she admits she'd love to find "a really out-there role where I let it all hang out. Get totally enraged. Go to an extreme. I have not really had that opportunity, and I hope it will happen." She's also not yearning for romance at the moment. "It's not something I can visualize right now. The best relationships develop out of friendships. That's the shame. At this stage I don't correlate any of the friendships I have with sex, and, honestly, once you bring sex into a friendship — Ooh! Whew! Oh! — that's a slippery slope into disaster."
So she channels her passions into building a house. Known locally for her restoration efforts, Keaton now wants a new challenge. "The easy thing — and part of me wants to do this — is just to go buy a house and redo it, but I've done that already," she says. It's much harder, she says, "to create something out of thin air. I never want to stop growing and learning."
A thoughtful look comes over Keaton's face. For the first time in the long conversation, there's silence. Not that it lasts. It never does with Keaton.
"Let me tell you the best part about getting older," she says without prompting. "The best part is that I'm still here and, because the end is in sight, I treasure it all more. That's why I don't worry about crying in a scene anymore. Now it comes easily. I know the emotion's all there." She smiles — but, in fact, a shimmer in her eyes suggests Diane Keaton is feeling something right now. "You have to live life all the way, you know? Take risks. Do things you can't imagine. 'Cause, hey, why not, right?"
AARP The Magazine photo shoot of Vince Gill and Amy Grant, for the cover story in the magazine's May/June 2011 issue, at the famed Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in Nashville, Tennessee. Watch