Those Birthdays Keep Coming

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courtesy Wikimedia Commons

 

 

For his eightieth birthday, a friend gave my husband a T-shirt. The words emblazoned across the chest read, the older I get, the better I was.

No, no, no. keep going. Reinvent yourself. Deal with the infirmities as they arise.

Remember Betty Friedan? She wrote The Feminine Mystique fifty years ago. (Dell has produced an anniversary edition.) “Shake off the shackles of your vacuum cleaners and get out of the house,” Friedan told women. Now that it has been fifty years, of course some women would just as soon open the front door and head back in. Anyway, Friedan gave the movement a name. F-E-M-I-N-I-S-M.

Several years later, Friedan wrote The Fountain of Age. (Simon and Schuster, 2006) This book celebrates old age as an opportunity for new beginnings. New contributions. Pleased when a group of Harvard physicians invited her to join them in a study or aging, Friedan found Alzheimer’s Disease to be the new beginning they most wanted to study.

Sons, daughters, grandchildren. Don’t write us off. I, for one, write. (Three books—one published this year, two languishing in the storeroom.) Blogs and Facebooks. I’m not the only one. I know of a ninety-two-year-old woman who has recently written a book called, Still Boy Crazy at Ninety.

I adore my grandchildren. Their creativity, their fresh outlooks, and their joy renew me as I watch them explore the world and grow. But sometimes they’d just as soon savor each year a little longer before it passes forever. On his fifth birthday my grandson told me, “I don’t want to grow up. I want to grow down.”

I hope you see fine possibilities ahead even if you don’t have a birthday cake like the one above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Libraries

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E.B. White in Maine with his dog, Minnie

 

I’m featuring E.B. White again this week. Known to 20th century readers of the New Yorker magazine, he is best known for his three beloved, classic children’s books: Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He also co-authored  a classic book for writers, The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White.

In case you need some peace and quiet in the midst of your summer, here is another of White’s quotes:

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company in sad times and happy times, for books are people —people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”

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