Role Models Matter

Message from Elders in Action Blog Editor, Barbara Schuetze

I was fortunate to have grown up with a mother who was vibrant, loving and engaged with her family, friends and community. Couldn’t have asked for a better role model.

My mother, Miriam Friedlander, lived life to its fullest until the last week of her life in 2010, when she passed away at the age of 86. She overcame many obstacles, experienced much joy and had many interests and passions including social action, politics, education, the arts, cooking, writing poetry, volunteering and travel.

My interest in being fully engaged in life and in the community — and my affinity for writing was inspired by my mother. And so was my positive attitude about aging. When I decided to devote more time to volunteering, I searched for an organization in the community that would be a good match. Elders in Action was a natural. After meeting with staff, I realized that one way I could contribute was by collaborating with the Elders in Action team to help write and edit their blog.

To keep the content in our blog interesting and relevant, we’ve added new forums, including personal essays, poetry, etc. (500 words or less) by older adults. We look forward to receiving personal writing from you that speaks to personal, community and societal issues facing older adults.

Please send us feedback so we can provide you with the type of information you want. We encourage you to email us at info@eldersinaction.org or call Mark Noonan at 503-235-5474. Our mailing address is: Elders in Action, 1411 SW Morrison St., Suite 290, Portland, OR 97205

To launch our new “personal writing” feature, we’re including a poem written by my mother that expresses her positive attitude on aging.

Enjoy!

Barbara Schuetze

Miriam and Barbara circa 1984

Miriam and Barbara circa 1984

Vintage People Unite

I’m a woman who has lived 60 years. My hair is gray, almost white.

I have liver spots and some wrinkles and I don’t care. I’m not buying that Madison Avenue “garbage”.

I’ve been working from within. Aging is not a disease — it is a natural process. I have found that I am unique, authentic and rare, as we all are.

I am not an old, elderly, senior citizen, over-the-hill, retired, aged, menopausal, decrepit, crotchety, senile, sundowner person — as some people like to refer to “vintage people.”

Just think, I have lived through being born breach, two older sisters, two marriages, the death of both parents, birthing three children, one hurricane, an earthquake, the depression, two operations, one heart attack, some awful teachers, driving on freeways, thousands of miles of air travel, the flu, some enemies and as Yul Brenner would say, “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.”

I have been going through my tape. You know, the one in my brain, that plays back all I’ve ever learned, and I’m making erasures of negative attitudes toward “vintage people.”

I realize that people will pay $150 for a vintage bottle of wine to be guzzled in one hour. Travel miles to find antiques, vintage clothing, rare vintage books. Go to the corners of the earth for cheese that has ripened, perhaps even molded, and sigh with ecstasy upon eating it.

Going through important attitudinal changes is important. I’m going through my third stage of life and am grateful that nature has afforded me this time. Nature has been good and plentiful to me. I’m reaping my harvest. I have helped nurture the seeds by fertilizing them with love and watering them with tears of sadness and joy.

I’m grateful for my harvest of loving family and friends.

I invite you, vintage and prospective vintage people, to join me.

Listen to you internal tapes. Become aware!

© Miriam Friedlander 1984