RD Interview: Margaret Trudeau

Margaret Trudeau on her new book, The Time of Your Life, what women need to keep in mind and how to make your third chapter a thrilling one.

RD Interview: Margaret TrudeauIllustration by Aimée van Drimmelen

You begin your new book by saying that one day you woke up and you were 65. How did that happen?
Being bipolar means you tend to live in the now. I never thought of myself as old, even though I have seven grandchildren. And then it just hit me. I have a limited number of years in front of me-what am I going to do to make them wonderful?
The message of my book is, Let’s get ready. Let’s make a great legacy, a great final act.

You also talk about how women over 50 start to disappear, while men don’t.
We do-as much as we try to keep ourselves looking young by stretching our faces and puffing up our cheeks. We have a chance to change the world in a significant way by not becoming invisible-but we can also be aware of the benefits. I don’t mind not being the person everyone looks at when she walks into a room. I’ll never get catcalled again.

What is the one piece of money advice women over 60 need to know?
Get a financial adviser! Maybe we’re scared of being scammed, but most advisers are extremely reputable. Don’t try to go it alone thinking you’re a financial wizard.

You claim that Jack Nicholson, your former flame, would make an ideal partner. Care to expand?
He’s a charming rogue who values his privacy. Many women have reached the point where they don’t want another marriage if it means being back in the homemaker role. Finding a partner who wants romance, companionship and someone to travel with is more appealing than sharing a laundry basket.

Many Canadians feel they know you. To what extent does your public persona line up with your real self?
People always say to me with astonishment, “You’re just like you’ve always been.” Was I supposed to go through some metamorphosis? My life has changed many times, but I believe we each have our own spirit and that mine is open and warm. I love the position I’m in now, where I am able to make a difference as a mental-health advocate without having people watch my every move like they used to. First I was known as Pierre’s wife, now it’s as Justin’s mom. But I’ve had time to become myself in between those two roles. 

Speaking of Justin, there is a lot of talk about what he has in common with his father. What does he have in common with his mother?
His humanity, his personableness. Justin is very loving. His father had an extraordinary intellect but was shy about reaching out to people.

A year ago you said you had trouble imagining Justin at 24 Sussex. Do you still feel that way?
Oh, no. These huge things in life just take a little while to process. My concern is as a mother, because I worry about Justin’s safety and the safety of his family and I know the world they’re entering into. But I want all of Justin’s dreams to come true-and anyway, these days I’m more interested in his children.

The Time of Your Life: Choosing a Vibrant, Joyful Future is available now.