A remarkable blog post just popped up on my reader. Rhoda P. Curtis is the author of “Rhoda: Her First Ninety Years,” a candid memoir of a first-generation American woman who was willing to change the direction of her life every twelve years, and “After Ninety: What.”
At 93, I am definitely part of the aging population. I happen to be blessed with clarity of mind, awareness of physical difficulties and a willingness to ask for help. If this be graceful, then so be it. I welcome the use of devices — walkers, canes, walking sticks — and I welcome the advice of physical therapists.
We live in a society where independence is highly valued, and when it becomes apparent that independence is a deterrent to safe living, some of us are unwilling to be dependent. I think accepting dependence is not only graceful, it is sensible. Some of my friends have suggested that how we live when young depends on how we live when old. This is a tempting rationale, but not always applicable. I have always lived an active life, as a dancer (both en point and modern), a skier, a backpacker and a swimmer. I can no longer ski, nor dance, nor swim.
How does one age gracefully? I would say that from the point of view of the aging person, the subject could be “aging comfortably.” And then the discussion would focus on specific things that make us comfortable — like taking a one or two-hour nap if we feel like it; allowing someone else to do the driving for various errands around town.
Perhaps an observer would regard a person who is “aging gracefully” as a person who doesn’t gripe about her aches and pains, who smiles bravely when someone asks, “How are you?” and responds “Fine,” when it isn’t. We old ones are conscious of the endgame being final; there is no future for us, as there is for the teenager. We ask ourselves and our friends, “Will I ever experience that wonderful sense of joy and of discovery?”
I have found that the answer to that last question is: “Maybe. Keep looking and trying. You have, literally, nothing to lose.”
Read her blog on Red Room.