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When one reaches middle age, all sorts of realities start to hit home. The fact that we growing older can start to cause a certain amount of anguish in those rare moments alone, when one contemplates the not so distant future.
Aging parents give us a glimpse of what's to come and if we are lucky enough to have relatives or friends to provide a positive view on growing older, it certainly does help. I am fortunate to have parents who at the age of 80, still go on lots of holidays, have great relationships with their grandchildren and have a huge circle of friends. They even manage to treck around London on the bus, and I know several 30 somethings who would find this daunting.
Of course health has a lot to do with growing older successfully, but having a positive outlook and a 'can do' approach to life seems to count for so much more. Writer Jane Millars book, Crazy Age: Thoughts on Being Old, provides a humorous, honest insight into the various stages of aging, drawing on her friends and her own experiences. As an ex English teacher she also uses various examples from literature.
She doesn't shy away from the more unpleasant worries and aliments she and her friends encounter, but still manages offer an optimistic view of old age.
One of my favourite passages talks about Janes 92 years old aunt, who died recently.
'She wore silvery grey eye shadow to the day she died, and when she talked, as she did about a possible end to her awful pain and immobility, I dont think she meant dying. She wanted to get back to her work, which was teaching singers to sing, and she wanted to sit in her garden'.
Like Diana Athills, Somewhere towards the End, this lovely book illustrates how old age is not to be feared and just like any other stage in life has it's ups and downs..