When I was small I happily opened my toys at Christmas and thought how dreadful to be an adult and have to look happy to get a new sweather ot a toaster. Then I grewup and began to understand that we change and our preconceived ideas are almost always wrong.
I read a lot of articles and novels and totally agreed with Susan this afternoon when she did a small rant on writers who think everyone over 50 has gray hair, bad health, and nothing interesting going on in their lives.
Our poetry class from ALL meets once each month of the summer at someone's home. This was our third "rump" session, at a lovely home on a sizable lake, sitting in what might have once been called the sun room. There were fourteen of us. We don't look like these four people n the stock photo and yet we do. We are all over 55, mostly over 65. We have come to know each other as only people can who write down their feelings and life events and share them with others can know each other. It's not something on the internet (like the pictured people) that we have to talk about, it's important parts of our lives, feelings, philosophies, and events.
When I read of the stereotypical "old" people in articles there's often an assumption that all is dark and painful. No one writes of the light way we all understood and handled our hostess's forgetting the name of a grandchild whose picture she was passing around. A sad lapse? No, a blank moment that we've all had but it doesn't mean impending doom. We listened with great interest as one explained how a new doctor prescribed a very old (now generic) antidepressant for her husband the day before he was going to go into a nursing home because he was so needy she couldn't cope. A pill that (as co-pay) cost 81 cents for a hundred. Within six hours his depression lifted, the nursing home was cancelled, some of his Parkinsonian symptoms abated. A miracle that a young doctor would try something no longer fashionable and inexpensive; a miracle that it worked wonderfully and did not cause side effects. This is somewhat more the conversation seniors might be expected to have but the tone was entirely different than I have ever read.
The sterotypes need to be destroyed, people who write about older people must not think all are lonely couch potatoes, dear old things that play bridge once a week, denizens of the doctor's waiting rooms, those slowly pushing their carts around the grocery story and having trouble with using their debit cards. I would not have guessed five years ago I'd spend an afternoon like this, reading a new poem to a group, taking part in joking, commiseration, admiring baby photos with people I know mostly through the poetry they write.
Our "teacher" (who is really a faciliator) has edited an anthology called Silent No More, because most of the people in this and another poetry group, were not "writers" until they decided to try to write poetry. I have found the same feeling of opening doors, discovering interesting rooms, vistas, when people take my writing skills class. A group esprit comes about as people look at others trying, week after week to put some of their thoughts and lives into a poem or a short essay.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!