Friday, October 24, 2014

Chast's Graphic Novel: A Book Review

Published 6 May 2014.
Growing old has some great benefits. Frailty is not one of them.

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast focuses her talents on describing her parents' journey into late adulthood--their 90s.  And it's not pretty.

The title of her book actually defers potential readers: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (2014).

So why read a graphic novel about the challenges of supporting frail parents?  

Even if you aren't going to support parents or a spouse through this process, you will have friends going through some of the things that Chast draws and narrates.

But you won't have the exact same journey. Chast is the only child of parents who lived for decades in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Leaving Tinkertown: Book Review

Published August 15, 2013.
Even very focused memoirs end up tackling a variety of topics. This is true of Tanya Ward Goodman's 2013 memoir, Leaving Tinkertown.

I chose to read it because it fits in with a category of books that I have labeled "dementia memoirs."  I value reading about the challenges and opportunities of hanging onto a relationship affected by Alzheimer's or another form of dementia.

Goodman focuses her memoir around the six years that her father, Ross Ward, lived with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Her account discusses the symptoms, diagnosis, and progression through the major stages of the disease.  It serves as a valuable road map for caregivers.

Even though there are some similarities from one dementia memoir to another, each account shows how the journey is unique to each person and their loved ones.

In the pages of her memoir, Goodman introduces us to her nonconformist father who is driven to create. He has spent decades drawing, painting and sculpting.  He spent some time on the road, painting for carnivals.  However, his major work took form as a miniature town dubbed "Tinkertown."  Ward carved the inhabitants and set up a roadside museum that is still in operation in New Mexico, just north of Albuquerque.

I received a copy of Leaving Tinkertown from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Going Gray at Midlife

Photo by Roberto Trm.
One of the physical markers of age is the appearance of gray hair.

I went through that rite of passage in my late 30s.  When I bought my first house and gave birth to my two children and decided to stop pulling my gray hairs.

Did these big life events bring about the gray? It's difficult to know for sure.

I've been coloring my hair for over 30 years (minus the five years I was either pregnant or nursing).  Recently I decided to stop coloring away the gray.  I'm only 52.

Why am I going gray at midlife?  Many midlife women color away the gray.  Many women in late life color their hair. Why would I want to look older?

I have a handful of reasons.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Soap: An Aging Image

Every once and a while, I am particularly struck by an image of aging.

Most recently,  I have been turning over in my mind this image from Luci Shaw's poem, "The Door, The Window."*

"The minutes / wear me away--a transparent bar of glycerin soap, / a curved amber lozenge dissolving in daily basins of water." 

I like the combination of beauty and utility in this image as well as the passing of time marked by the wearing thin of a bar of soap.

This image will stay with me for a long time.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Class and Women Writers

Photo by Filip.
I spent over a decade in college studying English language and literature and then more time than that teaching undergraduates how to read, write, and think critically.

Now that I have left that career to be a gerontologist, I'm reading more books about aging, including a great deal of nonfiction about related topics of caregiving, living with an illness, late-life career changes, economic issues of aging, humor pieces, managing grief and gleaning wisdom and spiritual insight in late life.  

I try to read broadly on the topic of aging, but sometimes I discover big gaps in my reading selections.