Today is the International Day of Older Persons and somehow it seems right that it coincides with the beginning of October.

I’m one of those fortunate people whose parents lived to great ages, eighty-eight and ninety-one respectively and today I feel a real sense of gratitude for having had such wise people by my side for so long.

Mother absolutely loved the writings of Doris Lessing and I think this quote from her about ageing sums up Mother’s views exactly:

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.
(Doris Lessing)


As I went for my first swim of October today, I could feel Mother, with her lovely burnished gold hair, urging me one. She was a non-conformist, a rebel in many ways and was just as much of a water baby as I am. She never, ever changed and I hope that I can be just like her in that.

Burnished Gold at Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford
Burnished Gold at Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

And, as for Father, well, this is the quote that  sums up so much about his whole approach to life:

You know what ages a man -boredom. 
(Macello Rubini, La Dolce Vita)


Boredom was a word that Father prohibited all his life. He felt that there was so much to learn and appreciate in life that boredom just didn’t have a place.

Today, I thought a lot about his love of photography and nature and felt him smiling as I sought to capture the waves of pampas grass that he helped me plant in our garden in 1995.

Pampas Grass

One of Mother and Father’s greatest legacies is that they taught me that ageing is something to be embraced and not feared and that older people should never, ever be categorised but seen as their own unique selves.


Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

29 thoughts on “Inspiration”

  1. A fabulous legacy, if you ask me! Age is but a number – how we feel inside, how we live our life, that is was keeps us young (or in some cases, age people!)

  2. I agree Willow, a beautiful post, full of wisdom and truth. We seem to have shared a similar upbringing in terms of parental attitudes. You were blessed to have them as long as you did, I lost mine comparatively early – wish they’d had more than a fleeting moment with my children and now my grandchildren. That’s one of the reasons I write – apart from NEEDING to… I want family who come later to have something original from me to interpolate.

    1. Hi Frances, that’s interesting about your writing being associated with wanting your family to have something original from you. That’s something that I feel blessed about re my mother as she wrote a lot both privately and for publication so there are boxes and boxes of writings going way back to when she was about 6. Her writings and Father’s photos are true treasures now that they have passed on.

      1. Yes, Jean, I have a suitcase with old scripts my mum and I worked on. She too wrote all her life but I only have what we wrote in my 20’s. I wish I had a copy of her book “Toward The Winds” written about Northern Rhodesia’s independence. It was sent to English publishers but deemed too ‘political’ to print.

        1. It’s ironic (in the context of Mum’s mss) that years later, in 2000 I was asked to edit a book called ‘Toward the Winds’ also about the struggle for Independence in Zambia. The author Don Bruce and I worked on it for about 5 years then sent it out to publishers, but suddenly we lost touch and think maybe he’s no longer alive.

        1. What a coincidence! My mother’s people were from Ayr so I’ve stayed there a few times. Got kicked out of the bar in Turnberry cos I was wearing runners, v.expensive ones cos of a broken ankle! Hubby is into golf and Dad was a fanatic.
          Absolutely love Scotland!

  3. Your parents sound wonderful, Jean, and this is a lovely tribute to ageing. I love your quotes, photos and the positive attitude you convey to getting older…I also try to embrace it in my 53 current years. 🙂

      1. Some days I feel like I’m in my 30’s and other days, in my 80’s. 😀 But I’ll always feel young at heart and I think that’s important, too. I think I’ve told you my Mom died at 90 and my Dad will be 95 on the 14th and he still drives. Yikes! I don’t know what their secret is, but I hope healthy longevity runs for my sisters and I, too. Have a good day!

        1. Yes, hopefully long life is in the genes!
          There’s definitely a difference between the feeling at physical as opposed to ‘heart’ level, though my mother always said that she felt way better physically in her 60s and 70s than she did in her 30s and 40s. So fingers crossed!!

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