“L.A. has to be the world capital of ageism. I noticed it the first time i visited L.A. after my first year of college. I was staying with a classmate and his family. On about the third day of the visit, we were sitting in the kitchen when an elderly woman I hadn't seen before walked through without saying anything. My friend and his parents acted embarrassed but otherwise didn't acknowledge the woman's presence. I had to ask him later who it was.
Stories I'm hearing
Stories I'm hearing on the street, in the news, etc.
A close friend’s grandfather is dying, though no one knows how close to death he is—perhaps months away. Even his doctor seems clueless, although perhaps he’s just not saying. In any case, he’s not asking. And even if everything were in the open and everyone on the same page—a pipe dream, I realize—no playbook would reveal itself. Dying is a concatenation of unpredictable events.
It's great to see Peg Cruikshank blogging for the Silver Century Foundation alongside Margaret Gullette and me. Cruikshank is the author of Learning to Be Old, among other important books, and her first post tackles what she calls the "Young Lady Dance." What's her response to being addressed as "young lady?"
"Why are you calling attention to my age?"
I fell in love with neurologist Oliver Sacks' writing decades ago, after reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat, a collection of case histories of patients with bizarre brain deficits or excesses, and I've been a fan ever since. I'm interested in medicine and Sacks is a wonderful wordsmith, but his humanism and empathy are what make his writing so compelling and his patients so lucky. Now 81, Sacks recently learned that he has less than a year to live. His essay about this is another astonishingy lucid, even joyous, piece of writing, which brought to mind a piece he wrote 18 months earlier called "The Joy of Old Age Age. (No kidding.)"
Actress Frances McDormand has always played unvarnished women, endearing herself to me—and winning an Oscar—for her role as queasy and massively pregnant state trooper Marge Gunderson in "Fargo." She plays another one as the title role in "Olive Kitteridge," a four-part HBO miniseries that McDormand acquired and made happen, and she's been wonderfully outspoken about herrejection of the industry-wide fixation on youth. "Looking old," she told the New York Times, "should be a boast about experiences accrued and insights acquired, a triumphant signal “that you are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information.
Lindsey McDivitt promotes intergenerational understanding and is currently writing fiction and non-fiction for children that challenge age stereotypes. She is co-editor of Climbing the Mountain: Stories of Hope, Healing and Humor after Stroke and Brain Injury. Lindsey blogs and reviews “Positive Aging” picture books at A is for Aging, B is for Books.
I'm on vacation—travelled through the Baltic capitals of Vilnius, Riga andTalinn, now in Helsinki, and on to St. Petersburg—and came across a flyer for a performance piece called Memories for Life about "the past and the present, the old and the young." It quotes Imants Ziedonis (1933-2013) , a Latvian poet who rose to fame during the Soviet occupation of Latvia, who wrote, "We do not walk towards death. We do not walk towards getting old. We walk to meet ourselves. We walk to meet our Other Me.
Writer and movie reviewer D.M Anderson is also a middle-aged heavy-metal fan – the latter uneasily, as he describes in An Essay on Ageism (nominally a review of Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi vehicle, Edge of Tomorrow).“As much as I’d still love seeing my favorite bands live, more often than not, I choose not to attend,” Anderson writes.