Are you interested in Aging well?
I am! And I have been passionate about it since I was a kid.
When an old man becomes a light for a little girl
It all started early in my childhood with my next door neighbor, Monsieur Dupré. He was about eighty years old and I was about six or seven. At that time, in the late 1950s, being eighty was considered really, really old.
He was always kind to me, always had a smile for me. It was a relief from the dramas happening in my family. To meet him for a few seconds, to exchange a few words, a smile and a hello, was a breath of fresh air in my young life. It had an impact on me, in particular when I heard that I was like a ray of sunshine in his own life! Our friendship was working well both ways, obviously. So light, so close to nothing and nevertheless, so important.
There was hardly any contact between our two families apart from my occasional brief encounters with him in the stairwell of our building near Paris. These exceptional moments were a real gift.
Until he died he remained alert, full of life, with a big smile and kind eyes.
From an early age, I realized that
Old people can be a source of hope and joy to younger ones.
“Doudou s’amuse” and the White Hair Lady
There is another little story that contributed to shape my desire to age well.
For my 7th birthday my mother offered me my first book “Doudou s’amuse” from la Bibliothèque Rose. It was a BIG moment. Not only did I adore my mother, but to receive such a gift from her was huge for me. I felt really special. It was a real book with nearly 200 pages. Furthermore it was a new one, not a second hand one, and it was only for me.
The story starts with two friends, a young girl nicknamed “Doudou” and her friend Jean-Claude. They used to do their homework together after school and one day they went for a walk afterwards. On the way they found the usually closed gates of a property slightly opened. Being curious (and Doudou was always very curious) they looked inside. They discovered an alley bordered with oak trees.
Beautiful white hair…
In the distance there was an old lady smiling at them, her white hair shining in the sun. Probably amused with these two little heads popping out of the gate, she looked at them and finally waved as a sign of encouragement to join her. She guided them towards a barn where a mommy cat with her newborn kittens were all curled up together in a basket. So you can imagine the joy of these two kids (and mine too, obviously). But what I remember the most from this story was the description of this very kind lady with her white hair shining in the last rays of sun. This is probably why I love white hair so much. I associate it with this image of beauty and kindness this particular book painted for me as a little girl.
Secretly, I wanted to become just like her. Aging well suddenly became so attractive to me.
When a kid dreams of becoming a nice old lady
Adults often ask kids “what do you want to do when you grow up?” In my case it was difficult to answer. I had no words for such a question and, most of the time, I would remain silent or I would say “I don’t know”, as if I had no imagination at all. In fact, I wanted to say “I want to become a beautiful old lady like…” But there was no way to share my dream when so many people around me were fearing aging, some for very good reasons. How weird for such a young girl to want to become an old lady, a special one with this beautiful white hair. Who would have understood? When everybody was trying to remain young, I kept it secret… Until now!
Aging well as an ambition
So, yes, aging well is important for me. It can give hope to the younger generations. Now, it is my turn to be kind of “old”. I consider it as a responsibility towards the younger ones. It is a serious subject and sometimes it is hard work but it is also incredibly enjoyable and fun! Do you want to join me in this adventure?