Old age is close enough now that I can imagine it, feel it in my bones, so to speak. Especially my knee after yesterday’s incident.
Getting old, as opposed to getter older which we all do, is that thing you can’t imagine happening.
I had an elderly neighbour, tough as old boot straps she was, from the north-east of England, a Geordie, and she summed it up by saying, “Getting old is no fun.” This from a woman who was still very fit, fitter than people a quarter of her age; she walked distances which most young’ens couldn’t consider going without a car.
I’m now at the stage where I can see old age. I give myself about 12 to 13 more years of working and 25 more years of travelling.
Earlier this year, I read two novels on aging.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf was a beautiful book. Until the end. I won’t spoil it for possible readers except to say the ending spoilt the whole book for me. I was so angry!!! I was still angry the next day.
And not in the “but at least it made you think about issues” angry.
In the “that was so stupid and not real and not in keeping with the characters” angry. In the “I want to cut out the last few chapters and write the real ending and stick that in” angry. If it wasn’t a library book, I would have done that. In fact I think all future readers would thank me.
Maybe the author was ill? (He has since died and this was his last book.) And he had to finish it quickly? Or maybe he was not thinking clearly, being irritable and sick?
I do not want to read any of his other books, least this is his schtick. What he does to the people of his books – subvert the whole story and take the ground from under their ( the characters’ and the readers’) feet. I think an author has a responsibility not only to his readers but to the characters they create. You can’t treat either so abominably.
I think I was meant to consider if I would miss having someone sleep next to me if my husband died before me. That’s the main premise of the novel. Someone to lay next to you like a puppy dog!?! Like a teddy bear. No, I think it would be my need. For me the intimacy (and I don’t mean sex), the comfort of having someone have your back and sharing adventures and joys and successes and worries. That’s what I’d miss. Not the empty bed.
The other book was The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old and I loved it. The tone. The character with his undercurrent of sadness but trying to get some joy from life. The sense of boarding school rebellion. The reality. The mocking of old people and their routines. The grief, the laughter. I enjoyed it all. It’s always about finding your peeps, your crowd. No matter the age. Though this reads like it was written, not by someone who is actually elderly, rather someone who has witnessed a lot of elderly people, it still has a sense of athenticity.
So read this. Not Our Souls at Night.