October 26, 2020

How will we tackle growing old (dis)gracefully?

Sarah Dolan

Wax crayon, poster paint and PVA glueIn Denial of Senescence, 2020A3 x 3 pages

Growing old is no longer the black and white world of my grandparents. I remember them in front of the fire, wearing hand-knits, smoking 20 a day. This was the BC (before cholesterol) Generation who worked hard for a living, retired then died. Today, I am thinking of my mother who has been retired more years than she worked. She has a kitchen cupboard full of vitamin supplements and a freezer full of Costco catering packs. She has a disfigured body punctuated with bits of technology. Her mind may be full of memories but her persona is becoming more two-dimensional than three. She rants in glorious Technicolor and, although she is in her eighties, she has devised complex patterns of behaviour to deflect from the fact she is old. When your raison d’être is to prove you can beat the ageing process surely you have set yourself up to fail. Paradoxically, it is this bloody-mindedness which keeps her going. My mother’s crusade comes at a price. Anybody unwilling, or unfit, to help her is “surplus to requirements”. Anybody who can see through her charade is blanked. So what about me? What about you? How will we tackle growing old (dis)gracefully?