Tuesday, August 12, 2014

You never know until you get there

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. 


barbara judge said...

As I read your post I started to think of the cultures that honor their elders in a way that is uncommon in the US. Perhaps the eastern cultures have something important to teach us about the various stages of life and the acceptance each. Right now I am feeling that one does not have to be anything except be wise to their ways and comforting to those around them be they pushing a cart, sitting on a bench watching the wind blow through the trees, or playing chess in a city park. As an elder we don't need to prove that we are still actively alive only that we are alive and welcoming to others. -- barbara

Lynn Guardino said...

My kids are going to have it so much easier than what I am experiencing and it's all because I have found interests and new horizons in my "old" age. I would give a million if my father would develop some interests and have a life beyond what he currently has. It's sad that my life is so impacted by his decisions to not participate in life and to only welcome me into his world. I realize now, how he limited my mother and how she died without having written so much as a poem yet, she was brilliant and had a thirst that remained unquenched.

June Calender said...

Thank you both, Barbara and Lynn. Your added insights are important and I agree. We sometimes bemoan all the new complications in American life, but it have opened doors so Barbara, you are a talented photographer, seeing beauty in simple things I might miss. And Lynn is a talented collagist as well as a people person good at facilitating gatherings to bring out other's talents. Once life was narrower and old age duller.