All is not lost with the new television channels. The other night I caught a Dave Rose interview of Nora Ephron on Bloomberg News. This was right after Rose had interviewed the former prime minister of Australia discussing the real new world order. In short, “Go West, young man. Don’t stop at the Pacific, keep going West.”
Ms. Ephron, screenwriter and director of some popular movies like “Julie and Julia,” “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” is a woman who speaks her mind and is usually pretty funny. Her new book, “I Remember Nothing,” has more essays about her life, including, what else, but aging. Even talented and famous people grow old. Ephron is hard put to think of anything positive about aging, and there are some days when I agree with her – actually most days. Aging is like “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” As annoying as it is, we’re stuck with it because we opened the door. (We didn’t die).
When some people think about getting old, they think that one of the worst aspects is that there will be so many things they no longer can do: Hop on a train with no particular destination in mind, trek through rainforests or visit a country about which they know nothing. In some ways the fates are kind. Usually what happens first is you no longer want to do those things. It reminds me of how surprised I was when I realized one day that I stopped wanting to play with dolls, and, conveniently, that Christmas I didn’t get any.
Playing with dolls aside, when we were doing new things and taking chances and experimenting with life, we had to face unpleasant developments and hardships, which later became “adventures.” When we get older, it is nice to recall those adventures – some of them. Recalling others can make us wince at the bumbling involved.
And, of course, lots of things change. Like the face in the mirror. Fortunately, looking at ourselves every morning, we become used to what we look like or what we looked like and tend to see what we expect to see. This can last for some time. The aches and pains, most of them quite new, become a part of our life, as do some new acquaintances about whom we are possessive:
My cardiologist, my rheumatologist, my oncologist, my homeopathist.
Some people manage to host aging with grace and humor and generally good health. I wrote about three of them several years ago. Mavis and Doss, after rich and active lives, have since left this planet and recently, at the age of 96, Norma, the third of this triumphant trio also passed away. All of us who know her will remember her good company and appreciate how impeccably dressed she was wherever she went. A great model for all of us.
But everything about the autumn of life, the senior years, or whatever euphemism you want to use, is not grim and gloomy. It is a chance to revisit the classics, whether it is literature or the movies. We can view them both with the experience of life and knowledge we didn’t have the first time. Or maybe we will forget that we read them once. If you are like me, the novels and essays will hold up better
Butterfly in the City
. . . Musings from San José
By Jo Stuart
than some of the movies. Even we have adjusted to the faster pace of life.
My friend Doug has been keeping me up to date about his sister, who has been a widow for three years. Recently she contacted her high school sweetheart, from whom she was separated when her family moved. (How many of us have thought about doing that?) He is also alone after a long
marriage. They picked up the threads of friendship and have woven them into a new kind of love, just as thrilling. Now, both 86, they are planning to move in together. Some of us have even adapted to the changing mores, losing the inhibitions that we grew up with.
Although forgetting becomes part of life, one thing we should not forget is a sense of humor about whatever life brings while we still have it to laugh about. Although she says she “remembers nothing,” that is something Nora remembers well.