DIMENSION . . .
The tendency to think of the old only as deprived, as those we have shoved into nursing homes, neglected, only "half there," rather than as treasures and exemplars is one more example of the lack of imagination that keeps us in America from being truly civilized. It is as though the need for good nursing homes and care had blinded us to a greater reality, that old age can be magnificent! We have become neurotic about it -- to speak of it at all touches a raw nerve. Isn't all this a little as though we thought of children only in terms of the starving or disabled or neglected?
For old age can be a very rich time, and it is surely always an adventure, a new stage in growth, requiring immense courage and spirit. When I think of it, I think how many of my real friends have been older than I, and how from the time I was seventeen I hoped that little by little I would grow toward what I saw in them, wisdom and power. When I think of old age I think of Basil de Selin. court, well into his eighties, planting a huge vegetable garden each year and how he worked, having learned the slow pace of the true gardener, never hurrying, but accomplishing far more than I could in a given day. I think of Eleanor Blair, who has just been here for a visit. Eleanor, after a lifetime of teaching and editing, began to be interested in photography professionally after she was seventy, learned to develop and print herself, and published her first book, an illustrated ramble about Wellesley College and its environs when she was eighty. Her little house and her beautiful garden are an oasis for friends of all ages; she is passionately interested in politics; she washes her own sheets; she cooks splendid meals for her friends, and still looks about sixty, if that. I do not associate
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Publication information: Book title: The Other within Us:Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging. Contributors: Marilyn Pearsall - Editor. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 229.