The emergence of the 21st Century elderwoman
For me, the idea of attempting to articulate a new vision for growing old in our culture began with my grandmother, though of course neither she nor I knew that it would.
My grandmother's name was Susan Charlotte Manicom, née Manfield.
She was born in 1880 and died in 1955
My grandmother had a huge influence on me during my formative years.
She was a hard-working woman, who lived a simple life, with few material possessions and little stress. She was brimful of wisdom, and dispensed it gently and subtly, without preaching. Her spiritual beliefs were strong and certain, her morality impeccable. She hummed as she went about her daily tasks. She always appeared relaxed and contented, and her face usually showed signs of a smile. She walked everywhere, or caught a bus. She re-used, repaired, recycled and improvised. In many ways, she would have fitted in perfectly, in these days of increased ecological awareness. But she belonged firmly and totally to her own times, as I belong to mine.
So the challenge I have set myself, in this, the 'third age' of my life, is the challenge of bringing the simple values and pleasures of my grandmother's life forward into today's scene and adapting them into a form which is suitable for the twenty-first century, for me, and for others like myself who seek to make a difference in the world.
The result is bigger, wider and more far-reaching - and certainly much more revolutionary - than Grandma could ever have imagined. It is the birth of a new vision. The 21st Century elderwoman.
The is what my book, ELDERWOMAN is about.
I, too, am a grandmother now. I hope I am as good a one as she was.