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AARP The Magazine

Meet the Winners of AARP's 50+ Model Search

From 51 to 91: Learn how they keep young at heart

The New Faces of 50+, our winners of our

"What a person needs becomes so much clearer a little later in life," says Linda Wilson. — Ari Michelson

70+ Winner

LINDA WILSON, 72

Home: Wilmington, N.C.

Lifeline: My yellow Lab. She's a rescue, and she rescued me, basically.

Words to Live by: Never, ever stop learning.

I lived a cosseted life, really, until I got divorced in my mid-40s. And then, here are the things that happened to me after 50.

I got downsized at work, because my skill — teaching people how to operate a particular phone system — was no longer necessary. I had serious back problems. I had a heart attack, which necessitated a stent. Then I needed another stent. Then I needed two new knees.

Life Reimagined will help you see your goals from a new perspective

These were times of great stress. I decided that it's never too late for a new start — and I also wanted to prove to my family that I was far more capable than they thought. I grew up in the kind of family that thought a college degree denoted intelligence. But I knew what I was capable of.

I moved to a beach community in North Carolina, where I knew no one. I started a business providing caregivers to people after serious surgery — I knew from personal experience how comforting it could be to stay in your home rather than go to a rehab center — and the business was very successful. It was a stressful business, though, so I sold it five years later, at a profit, and started a pet-sitting service, which allows me to make good use of my love for animals.

I feel in many ways that I'm really, really living for the first time. I've got family nearby and I love to dance and kayak. I'm constantly looking to learn new things. And now I do want someone in my life.

What a person needs becomes so much clearer a little later in life. I want to find someone who loves nature, who has a good heart. I don't want to date just to be dating. If I don't find anyone, that's perfectly OK. If I do, I want it to be my last love.

Next page: An actor and artist. »

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