The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging

By Marilyn Pearsall | Go to book overview

18
IN THE HEAT
OF SHADOW

Jewelle Gomez

A gallery of photographs has adorned the walls of my various apartments since I left the Boston home of my great-grandmother in 1971 to live in New York City. Each of the faces -- my mother, Dolores; her mother, Lydia; her mother Grace; and yet another, Sarah, before her; alongside my father, brother, step-mother -- has each in its own turn been a focal point for me. Most often though it has been the face of my great-grandmother Grace, the woman who raised me, that most fascinated me. She, who was always most reticent to have her soul captured on a piece of shining paper. Her square Iowa tribal face was often shielded by wire spectacles that concealed her impish humor but not her unyielding resolve. From my childhood perspective (one I've clung to until most recently), she embodied the security of my youth, the impressive influence of our past and the endurance of African/Native American women.

Her daughter, Lydia, with whom I've been most close in the past ten years, represented the possibilities of beauty. In the pictures her face shines with charm, intelligence and sensuality. I never dress, sing, kiss, teach or sew without seeing that face, for she was the one who taught me those things. But she died this summer and I cannot touch that loss yet. It is the face of my mother, Dolores, which holds my eye now as I feel the chilly departure of my youth. Hers is a face of uncertainty, the unknown. Although it is clear we are all descendants of Sarah, whom I never knew, Dolores and I grow ever closer in resemblance each year. Her portrait among the others is arch, sophisticated, distant, like many done of glamourous women in the early 1950s. I can see the painted line of her eyebrow, the deliberate softness of her jawline, the romanticized wave of her hair. In the corner her inscription to me in 1952 is still faintly visible in the dramatic script I

-239-

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The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 16
  • Part One - Situating 17
  • 1 - The Double Standard of Aging 19
  • 2 - Portnoy's Mother's Complaints 25
  • 3 - The Plight of Older Black Women 37
  • References 41
  • 4 - The Feminization of Poverty Among the Elderly 43
  • Notes 54
  • 5 - Older Women in the City 57
  • Notes 68
  • Part Two - Problematizing 71
  • 6 Friends or Foes - Gerontological and Feminist Theory 73
  • Notes 91
  • References 91
  • 7 Heresy in the Female Body - The Rhetorics of Menopause 95
  • Notes 110
  • References 110
  • 8 Gender, Race, and Class - Beyond the Feminization of Poverty in Later Life 113
  • Notes 119
  • References 119
  • 9 - The View from Over the Hill 121
  • Notes 134
  • 10 - Adult Daughters and Care for the Elderly 135
  • Notes 146
  • 11 What Setting Limits May Mean - A Feminist Critique of Danielcallahan's Setting Limits 151
  • Notes 158
  • References 159
  • Part Three - Representing 161
  • 12 Sunset Boulevard - Fading Stars 163
  • Notes 175
  • 13 - Remembering Our Foremothers Older Black Women, Politics of Age, Politics of Survival as Embodied in the Novels of Toni Morrison 177
  • Notes 193
  • 14 Visible Difference - Women Artists and Aging 197
  • Notes 214
  • 15 - Time Will Tell 221
  • Part Four - Privileging 227
  • 16 - Toward Another Dimension . . . 229
  • 17 - Indian Summer 233
  • 18 - In the Heat of Shadow 239
  • 19 - Mirror of Strength Portrait of Two Chilean Arpilleristas 243
  • 20 - The Space Crone 249
  • 21 - Serenity and Power 253
  • Notes 273
  • Credits 275
  • About the Book and Editor 277
  • About the Contributors 279
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