With all the preconceive notions about aging and the common stereotypes about old people, one day we might hear someone singing, “Old people, what are they good for? Absolutely nothing!” But we know better. We regularly encounter older folks who demonstrate grace, humor, and kindness with tremendous spirit and grit.
Often the value of older adults is overlooked, so it was encouraging to read the December 29th, New York Times article by John Leland titled “Want to Be Happy? Think Like an Old Person”.
For three years he followed six adults, most of them in their 90’s, to try to understand the challenges and hardships adults over 85 confront financially, physically and emotionally. But not surprisingly, he learned much more.
In his interviews, he found these “old” folks resilient and realistic. They had learned to accept loss and grief; and took snubs or rejections in stride and no longer desired things they couldn’t afford. As they lived each day, they were not paralyzed by the challenges they faced.
In fact, they exhibited what gerontologists call the “paradox of old age”: as we grow older and much of our get-up-and-go has gotten-up-and-gone, instead of feeling worse and sorry for ourselves, we actually feel better - focusing on what we can still do and what we find rewarding, instead of what we can’t. As Ms. Wong told Leland, “I try not to think about bad things. It’s not good for old people to complain.”
From these six individuals in the twilight of their lives, he saw why older adults have higher levels of contentment and well-being than teenagers or young adults. And that there is much the younger generations can learn from these “over-the-hill” old folks.
If you want to read more about what John Leland learned from talking to folks 85+, his book, “Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old” will be published on Jan. 23.
If you enjoy reading and are interested in joining a book group, The Dalles – Wasco County Public Library hosts three different book groups that meet at 6:30 PM on different Thursdays.
Starting on the second Thursdays of the month, The Pride Book Club meets and is open to all adults interested in reading LGBTQA literature. The club will be discussing The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff on January 11th.
On the third Thursdays, the appropriately named Third Thursday Book Group meets. On January 18th they will be discussing the international bestseller The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, and in February they will be discussing The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin.
And on the fourth Thursdays, it’s The Mystery/Crime Book Group’s turn. On January 25th, they will be discussing American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin.
Anyone is welcome to join these book discussion groups. If you have any questions, contact the library at 541-296-2815.
The name of the company that manufactured the best-selling train set in the 50’s and by 1953 was the largest toy manufacturer in the world was Lionel. But I was also informed by Jim Ayers that Louis Marx and Company sold more train sets than Lionel in the late 1950’s, and he remembers having his own Marx O27 train set. (I received correct answers from Don McAllister, and this week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket, Sam Guilip - and Jim Ayers for setting me straight.)
And speaking of Louis Marx and Company, they introduced a toy in the 1970’s that was so successful, it was added to the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2009. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the brand of colorful low-riding tricycles introduced by Louis Marx and Company, which were made mostly of plastic, with an oversized front wheel? Email your answer to email@example.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a picture of the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.
Well, it’s been another week, looking forward to the surprises of a new year. Until we meet again, don’t forget to write 2018 - and surprisingly, so far I’ve been doing pretty good.
“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things and happy in small ways.” Edith Wharton