This just in from Al Power…
First, a rant. I was giving a Keynote at a conference a few weeks back, and got to ranting about the common concern that the aging of our population is going to bankrupt our country.
It went something like this: “We have 50 million people without health insurance and an equal number are underinsured, gas is $4 a gallon and we have no coherent energy policy, we’re slipping into recession, the housing and banking industries are crumbling under the subprime mortgage fiasco, Iowa is underwater and we’re fighting two wars overseas — do you really think old people are going to be main cause of our economic collapse??”
Now, two raves: First, from our local daily, kudos to Nicholas Gatto!
Gatto is a partner of Legacies of Life, a Rochester company that writes elder histories. He wrote an op-ed expressing the need for a community “Board of Elders”, who could bring their wisdom and experience as a valued resource for the community. In addition, it “would enable our children to see that engaging Grandma and Grandpa’s wisdom is essential to securing a bright future for all”. Yes!
Second, my daughter Caitlin passed me a copy of the remarkable novel “Where River Turns to Sky”, by Gregg Kleiner (Harper Perennials, 1999). This story is told, in alternating chapters, through the eyes of two elders – George Castor, a prickly gentleman with unresolved guilt over the death of his best friend Ralph; and Clara Paulson, victim of a stroke which has left her virtually speechless.
George has issues with the nursing home where Ralph died, and where Clara lives. So he devises a unique “aging in community” solution for Clara and a few of her neighbors. That’s all I’ll say about the plot.
Kleiner has a unique style and an original approach to words and images that kept me riveted. Even more, this apparently young first-time novelist has told the stories of elders with a remarkable authenticity of spirit and perspective. (This isn’t just my opinion – my 81 year-old mother felt the same way.)
Kleiner has been an exchange student in Thailand, on retreat in a Buddhist monastery, a goat herder, a wildlife biologist and a journalist. I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next!