Quartet is the perfect movie to see on Valentine’s Day. When I visit my parents this weekend, I will suggest that we all go and watch, and I can’t wait to see it for a second time.
The movie is about aging musicians, and the main characters are played by highly regarded and accomplished actors in their senior years. The story, about long retired musicians, is wonderfully touching, addressing in an artistic way all sorts of chronic problems and aging issues, including losing the ability to perform to the level they were used to as professional musicians. All of the extras are retired musicians — one man in his nineties — all of whom still love and enjoy their art. Dustin Hoffman, the director is 75. The credits recognize the more prominently featured elder musicians, explaining where and what they did professionally.
I cannot say enough about how good this movie is to watch, and the way it celebrates the elder years. It tackles the frustrating problems of ageism head on. Read this Quartet review in the Boston Globe.
It’s Memorial Day Weekend 2012, when we remember men and women who fought and gave their lives, largely to maintain democracy and religious freedom. Each year, I think about my Uncle Sherman, although I think about him lots of other times too, because while he did not die fighting, he made an ultimate sacrifice — losing any quality of life after extreme shell shock suffered in World War II.
These days, as various groups tell people what to believe, how they should worship, who they should and shouldn’t love, and even for whom they should cast a vote, I remember Uncle Sherman, precisely because he went to fight Hitler’s evil world view and the Holocaust. He did this after learning about freedom of religion and persecution of the Jews — in Shelburne Sunday school in Terre Haute, Indiana. He went to war to fight hate.
Sherman had never met anyone of the Jewish faith, but he knew they had a right to live their lives, and were he alive today he would be very puzzled about the many people making hateful comments about Muslims. My uncle was a member of “the greatest generation,” today’s elder-elders who put themselves in grave danger and saw countless friends and family members die in at least one war. Read more »
Sometimes at my church in late October we sing the hymn, For All the Saints. At that service we remember the many dedicated and committed people who have died over the course of the year. For me, this service is always a time to think about long time members, most of them elders and many the age of my parents, who have accomplished much and made the world and community — not just our church — a better place.
This celebration of All Saints’ Day makes me think about getting older, how much life I have left to live (quite a few years, I hope), and whether, when the time comes and my life ends, I will look back and feel like I have lived my life with service to others.
My church is celebrating its centennial year, and right now it’s mid-May, not October. I just enjoyed another opportunity to listen and ponder the well-lived lives of elders (age-wise, not in the church governing sense), some departed, but a good many still alive and active. So many of these people, contributing time and talent, ensured during the first 75 years, that the church would endure for generations, making is possible for the rest of us to celebrate this 100th year. For three hours people shared stories and special memories about the history and lives lived in ways that affect change without rubbing their religion in the face of others. Though it was a long afternoon, hardly anyone left before the event ended.
I cannot get Rachel from Credit Card Services to stop calling me. She has such a lovely voice, and she always tells me that there is no problem with my credit card. But then she continues on, encouraging me to talk to one of her colleagues about lowering credit card interest rates. Moreover, it will be my last opportunity. Don’t I wish it was going to be my last opportunity to talk with Rachel and her colleagues!
In fact, Rachel is harassing me, and I know she does this to lots of older seniors who don’t know a lot about technology. I have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). When this happens, you should, too.
Watch this video that describes how to file a complaint, and it is well worth watching, especially with senior parents or other aging family members and friends.
Thoughts From Mom to Me
As we age, we are treated differently, make no mistake about it, but until I felt it myself, it never rang true. In my professional life, from time to time I observed how people are marginalized – individuals with mental illness, immigrants, international students, people of color.
Now, after years in college and ministerial circles, I’ve aged, and I sometimes feel marginalized because of my age. Someone might speak to me in a falsetto voice, pay no attention to my opinions, or worse still, not offer me a leadership role of some type. Sometimes I feel that young adults are patronizing. As I became more aware of ageism, at first I was perplexed, then angry, and finally curious. Is this a rite of passage for each generation?
Today when you told Dad and me of a conversation with your cousin, the gist of which is that gray hair raises barriers with younger colleagues, and that the barriers sometimes lead to perceptions of less competence or inventiveness, I wondered does this cycle have to exist? How can we understand these new roles? Are we taking enough initiative? Are we now only acceptable as participants with less primary roles? Do young adults ever really know who “old people” are? Read more »
Those of you who have read even a few of the posts here at As Our Parents Age know of my ongoing series, iPad for Dad (read the first in the series). A little over a year ago, I splurged and bought my Dad an iPad for his 87th birthday. My goal was to encourage him to write and more specifically, share his writing with me and other family members. A committed journal writer, Dad’s diaries fill many shelves, spiral notebook after spiral notebook, pages covered with handwritten entries dating back to 1947.
The iPad has encouraged hours and hours of journal writing, pieces that can easily be sent around to family members — all he has to do it hit the picture of the envelope and his thoughts are on their way to me or to a friend, to his granddaughter, Rachel, or his niece, Sandy. To be exact, 214 journal entries have been e-mailed to me over the past year, and at least every other one includes something new (to me) about his life or our family. Who knew?
What I do know, however, is that iPad is a gift that keeps on giving back to me, as Dad writes and remembers and writes some more. And his ideas, insights and stories about our family keep on coming. Read more »
On Sundays I love to read the longer wedding stories that appear in The New York Times and the Washington Post. The Times story on Dorothy Furlong, age 75, and Charlie Hall, age 80, caught my eye for a number of reasons, not the least of them being the opportunity to read wonderful and romantic late-in-life love story and the way it strikes a blow against ageism. Another reason was a wise and delightful comment from Mrs. Furlong, toward the middle of the article reminding me, yet again, that while much of the body ages, one’s view of the world — that is what they eyes perceive — continues to be largely the same.
Mrs. Furlong said, “You’re looking out of the same eyes as you did at 30, and it’s still the same world, with trees and snow.”
Have fun reading the article and enjoy the pictures!
Note: You might also enjoy reading Aging Bodies but the Same World View about my Grandmother’s view of the world.
A delightful article appearing in the September 7, 2010 Cleveland Plain Dealer describes a panel discussion presented to second year medical students at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Panel members, all in their 90′s, told the medical students what physicians need to do to be more helpful to elderly patients. The article, Elders Share Secrets of Long Life with Medical Students at Case Western Reserve University by Ellen Kleinerman, is entertaining and engaging.
Senior and retired physician, Dr. Joseph Foley, 94, summed up the many comments when he said, “It’s a big mistake when we [doctors] fail to listen and not give our patients enough time to tell us their problems.” Moreover, the med students heard many other comments that were just as wise.
The panel discussion is a yearly event for second year medical students.