The world lives in order to develop lines in its face.
– T.E. Hulme

We All Become Stories – Ann E. Carson

Ann Elizabeth Carson’s We All Become Stories brings us 12 aging voices plus one. We listen to portraits and stories of 12 individuals interviewed about their aging, especially the roles of memory in their later years. Very importantly we also hear the author’s voice. We can listen to Carson as interviewer and interpreter but also as writer reflecting on her own aging.

To read my foreword to the book, click here:

Ryan13-CarsonListeningForeword

LIFE STORIES – ELDERS IN THE NEWS

The Memory Lady’s Daughter Tries to Fill the Gaps

Rural Mom, now 94 with dementia, used to recite poems and perform whole memorized novels for local women’s clubs.  Now her daughter fills in the gaps of her mother’s memory from the oft-told stories.  To read more >>

How the FBI Turned Me On to Rare Books

Historian Natalie Zemon Davis, age 85,  received the National Humanities Medal from Barack Obama in July. On the occasion she wrote this story of how she coped with the FBI confiscating her passport in the middle of her international dissertation research.  To read more >>

This episode also expanded my notions of human response to situations of constraint, both my own and that of people in the past. I realized that between heroic resistance to and fatalistic acceptance of oppression, there was ample space for coping strategies and creative improvisation. Much of human life was and is carried on in this fertile middle ground.

New Bedford’s Amazing Milly England is 111 Years Old

A participant in the New England Centenarian Study, Milly England is a lifelong storyteller.  Despite deafness now, she still tells stories “with great humor and even greater enthusiasm.”  To read more >>

Community Engagement for Older Writers

We can help older adults to explore and share their life stories by encouraging young people to correspond with a grandparent or great-grandparent.

The grandchild can develop the practice of asking one specific question to elicit a memory.  For example, where were you when a specific historical event occurred (e.g., World War II – Sept. 1, 1939 or Dec.7, 1941; Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II; Newfoundland joined Canada; first moon landing).  One could also ask about favourite holiday celebrations, backyard or neighbourhood during childhood, early days at school, first job, family  trips, etc.

We can also assist older people to write a sketch in response to these questions. Sometimes we need only show keen interest. For an individual with visual, motor or cognitive difficulties, we can also serve as a scribe to record and send off the replies.

Writing Exercise

Choose a favourite character from novels you have read.  Imagine meeting this person for lunch. Describe the scene — setting, meal, conversation, what is said and not said.

Web Resources on Aging with Spirit

Conscious Aging Alliance

Fierce with Age

Link to Events Calendar

With this shadow photo, I bid you adieu until next time,

Ellen