[EDITORIAL NOTE: I am out of town for several days this week. In my absence, are stories from five elders and/or bloggers who have contributed to what I am calling The Oldest Old Project. They had to be at least 80 to participate and I asked how their lives had changed in the 20 or more years since they were 60. Today, Ramona Moorman who runs a newspaper in Marcellus, Michigan, but I’ll let her tell you about that.]
Yes, I am one of the old, old, having just celebrated my 80th birthday last month. It has amused me to learn people between the age of 50 and 60 consider themselves elders.
There have been big changes in my life between 65 and 80. The biggest challenge I faced during the years was becoming a widow at the age of 71, and consequently inheriting my husband’s lifelong career.
He had been the editor/publisher of one of two small-town, weekly newspapers we have owned since 1950. When his health began to fail a couple months before he died in 1999, I began helping him publish the newspaper. I had not previously been very involved in the business.
For most of my married life I was a stay-at-home Mom with four children. At 50 years of age, a friend of mine and I started a wallpaper decorating business. Both of us had been very active and busy in our community as volunteers, but decided it was time for a change. After retiring from the business, it was back to volunteering, until I took on the role of editor/publisher.
My husband’s funeral was on a Sunday and the next day, putting one foot in front of the other, with the help of my children and friends, we got the paper out and I have been doing so since then. Yes, it has been a challenge, but a rewarding one. One, which to me, has become more of an enjoyable hobby, rather than a duty.
Fortunately, I received a computer as a gift for my 70th birthday. Had I not learned to use it, it would have been very difficult for me to take over publishing the paper. Watching me use the computer and seeing that the results would be suitable for composing the newspaper, my husband purchased a computer for one of his employees to replace a clunky, smelly, hard-to-use Compugraphic machine. Soon after I became the publisher we were completely computerized.
I chuckled when I read Steve’s comment to your September 22 column. I don’t think anyone reading our weekly newspaper considers it “fluff.” I have been involved in peace and justice, nuclear freeze and women's movements since the late 70’s. Naturally, our newspaper now reflects my interests and we took an early stand in opposition to the Iraq War and to the Bush regime.
My small village is in the midst of a heavily Republican area and needless to say, many critical and harsh letters to the editor were received, nevertheless people kept on subscribing. And, has the nation, the majority of people in our area now oppose the war.
What is important to me at my age really hasn’t changed a great deal from when I was younger. Family, friends, work, community, life-long learning and trying to “make a difference” has always been important.
Of course, physical activities have changed. I used to enjoy tennis, bowling and cross-country skiing, but now enjoy other less physical demanding activities. I have also learned to turn over to others some of the heavier household activities that I used to enjoy.
Years ago, I used to take part in peace marches and protests, not only in our area but also in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Now, I stand for peace in our village on one Saturday a month.
Thankfully, I can say that my life at 80 years of age is good, I am contented. I am also grateful for the change in my personal life that computers and the internet have brought.
The internet has enlarged my world. Although I spend a lot of time reading books, newspapers and periodicals, I find I rely more and more on the internet to keep me informed.
Although I don’t have a blog, I enjoy reading blogs; yours is a first-read every morning. There are many authors of blogs that I think would be great friends. Also, I find shopping on the internet for needs and gifts is much easier than having to go to stores. The only drawback to it is that I find book shopping on Amazon 1-click is sometimes too easy.
I am deeply troubled about the disastrous condition of our country and sincerely hope the November election will bring changes we desperately need. I am ashamed of the depressing legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Florence Hart Millo gives us more than one good reason her mother's entrepreneurship was important in My Mother's Business.]