“Old age ain’t for sissies,” Bette Davis, famously said. And she had a point. Things just don’t work as well as they used to. The body breaks down. The mind goes with it. And the memory? Don’t ask. “It ain’t what it used to be,” pitcher Dizzy Dean said of his right arm, “but what the hell is?” But if old age isn’t for sissies, neither is adolescence or middle age, early childhood or any other of the ages of man. And growing old has its compensations. We were lucky to get here, however broken down we are. And we have seen enough along the way to know the role luck played in the journey, which is the source of whatever wisdom we have. Knowing our days really are numbered can create a sense of gratitude and excitement for each one of them that perhaps the young don’t yet appreciate.
Last Saturday Ada Bryant and Robert Haire were married. He is 86. She is 97. As beautifully described by Margaux Laskey, their courtship was as filled with romance and fraught with angst as any other. “I didn’t think it was the thing to do because I don’t have that many years ahead of me,” said Ada. “But he said, ‘That’s all the more reason.’ I like him very much. I love him. So we’re going to be married.”
“Those who love deeply never grow old,” wrote Dorothy Canfield Fisher. “They may die of old age, but they die young.”