a guidebook to aging gracefully. The body I inhabit doesn't seem to
have come with an instruction manual for getting old and, in our
world of youth and vigor no matter what the cost, there are few role
When the extended family, with multiple generations living together
beneath one roof, evolved into the nuclear family, parents and
children only, old age was shunted off into an "over there" existence
of retirement villages and nursing homes. Hot on the heels of that
development came the exaltation of youth. Children became consumers
and as such central to the capitalistic state. With youth being so
important no one wants to get old, or at least to look old. Take a
look at the advertising around and notice how much is aimed at
stopping the advance of time on the human body. From creams that
reduce crows feet to Viagra, from glucosamine to hair restorers, we
are exhorted to fear age as soon as we step into adulthood.
I'm tired of being told that I have to stay young to have value. I'm
willing to get old and I have the irascible part down pretty pat.
Grace is the part eluding me. Images of a stately English dowager or
a gentle Spring Byington (remember her?) bob in my head. How about a
wise Eleanor Roosevelt? A saintly and useful Mother Theresa? Nope, I
seem destined for a cross between Granny Clampett and Maude
Findlay... unless I find that handbook for sanding the cantankerous
edges, scraping off some geezer gruffness, and adjusting the
geriatric attitude. Yep, I'll be surveying the book catalogue for a
how-to volume. And tripping passers-by with my cane!