There was an old woman

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For this reader, in a word, love, pure and simple, for this book of essays that tackles all the prickly, suffocating, isolating hard-edges that come with growing old, as a female, – unnoticed and unwelcome in a global culture that prizes patriarchy and youth. An aging experience that no less than fifty-percent of us, if we are lucky, will have someday (some of us sooner than others, but we will all hope to get there in the end).

Bursting with insight, compassion, and most of all, a writer’s ferocity, – to reach out, to bring to light, to proclaim, that as we become “old women”, we surely will recognize the accompanying marginalization, as we become subjected to societal and mind-numbing ageism, along with our old friend, misogyny, who is never too far away. And yet, in spite of all this, the author helps us understand that it is possible to go on, experiencing, connecting and learning right up to our nineties (and even beyond), as we do our best to live each day, as they arrive, and in so come to realize our own (physical and psychological) completeness.

“We don’t turn into someone else when we become old. We bring our whole selves with us into old age. Who we become in old age is the elder within who finally manifests. “

As comforting as a conversation with a trusted friend, the authors voice is welcoming, astute, and learned, – but it is also deeply personal, as vulnerabilities and losses, many of them still raw, are shared and explored, making this read an emotional one. The author casts a wide net, tacking age-related thematic subjects such as grief, fairy-tales and female archetypes, beauty and aging, caretaking (my favorites are the beautiful passages on senior mothers and daughters), culture, community, old women as portrayed in art and across time, and perhaps most interesting of all, the elderly feminine, (where it can be found, fleetingly) in novels, current and past literature, poetry, and memoirs. Exposing deep-rooted cross-generational stereotypes, the impact of the silent disdain felt for the elderly, and in particular, the old woman, is felt by us all.

But it is possible, after all, to live each of our days, as an “old woman”, complete in our valuation of our innermost selves and our journey.

“I want to live this last part of my story well. New ways to see and new ways to be an old woman”

A wonderful heart-felt package of insight, gifted to each of us women who will grow old, or to anyone who will share their life with women who grow old, this gorgeous read is both educational and inspiring.

“I don’t need to fathom everything each day brings. I only need to live them, as they come. To be an old woman is a marvelous thing. “

A great big thank you to the publisher @osupress for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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