Author Topic: Number Our Days  (Read 4142 times)

ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 52778
Number Our Days
« on: May 02, 2017, 01:13:36 PM »
The Book Club Online is the oldest  book club on the Internet, begun in 1996, open to everyone.  We offer cordial discussions of one book a month,  24/7 and  enjoy the company of readers from all over the world.  Everyone is welcome.


They say that growing old is not for sissies. Are they right? When Anthropologist Dr. Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to study aging she decided to do it in NYC, and let the subjects speak for themselves.

The result is an "often funny, deeply moving narrative of human dignity and courage."

 "One of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."-- Bel Kaufman.

Join us June 15!




ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 52778
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2017, 01:27:39 PM »
Welcome!

This extraordinary book was recommended in one of our other book discussions. I had never heard of it, but I sure am glad I have.  I can't put it down.

I recently saw the movie Going in Style with Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, and Morgan Freeman.

It's funny and cute but  you know what I liked about it the most? It accurately portrays the attitudes the aging have to put up with  at the hands of most of the public.  Michael Caine spoken to by a bank manager as if he were a somewhat slow 5 year old. The assumptions of the people they meet and those they love about their capabilities. And the way life tends to treat those no longer 40.

Is 70 the new 40?

The book opens with Basha, 89. She lives in NYC. She wants to remain independent. Her daughter continually urges her to move to her area, to her house. She says her mother is "stupid" for staying there.

Basha speaks for herself:


Join us June 15, and let's talk.

Everyone is welcome!


Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2017, 11:04:22 PM »
This is a wonderful book, and what a splendid excerpt, Ginny, to serve as an invitation to a good read and a good discussion. Basha, at 89, is so articulate. Let's let her take us to the Center:

'...always there's something doing there.'

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2017, 10:32:09 AM »
Oh Ginny, I can't wait til June to begin this book!  Just reading the excerpt has brought tears to my eyes.  My son's mother in law lost her husband in March, they immediately moved her into their home out of her's which she has lived in since a child, all the years of her marriage and raised her children there.  It is not in the best area of our city, but it is her home and neighbors have watched out for her knowing her husband had bad health.  She has confided in me that she is not sure she wants to leave her house to live with my son and her daughter and their three children.  She is on a waiting list for an apartment which will be at least a year.  My heart hurts for her.  How do we decide how to proceed in life as we age and lose our loved one?  I'm thinking this book will give us some insight.

"Here I have lived for thirty-one years, I have my friends."
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2017, 03:00:19 PM »
Lots of insight, Bellamarie. And tons of hindsight, naturally. And of course, attempts at foresight...garnished with superstition. This from the back cover:

'When noted anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff received a grant to explore the process of aging, she decided to study some elderly Jews from Venice, California, rather than to report on a more exotic people. The story of the rituals and lives of these remarkable old people is, as Bel Kaufman said, "one of those rare books that leave the reader somehow changed."

Here Dr. Myerhoff records the stories of a culture that seems to give people the strength to face enormous daily problems - poverty, neglect, loneliness, poor health, inadequate housing and physical danger. The tale is a poignant one, funny, and often wise, with implications for all of us about the importance of ritual, the agonies of aging, and the indomitable spirit.'

A very good read at any age.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2017, 04:00:21 PM »
Wow!  Jonathan "insight, hindsight and foresight, garnished with superstition."  I can hardly wait!  I am going to buy the book instead of borrowing from the library, it sounds like a keeper. 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9517
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2017, 05:55:04 PM »
My library system doesn't have it, though the Portland, OR system does, so I got it from Abe Books.  They have a ton of them for less than $4.  I, too, am looking forward to it.

ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 52778
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2017, 09:14:15 PM »
Oh wonderful! So good to see so  many people already!

Welcome, Jonathan, and thank you for recommending it, I had never heard of it: what a treasure it appears.

Welcome Bellamarie, How do we decide how to proceed in life as we age and lose our loved one?  I'm thinking this book will give us some insight. I agree.

This subject is something we all probably have some  experience with, or we've heard somebody else's experiences,   in one way or another. If we live long enough, it might even be us.  Old age not being for sissies, I am also hoping to gain some insights and inspiration from their examples. I am already impressed with the 89 year old taking the bus to go shopping.

It's a mindset I hope to understand.

I had hoped we might be able to contact the author. Dr. Myerhoff, but she died in 1985, at the age of 50.

Welcome, PatH! I wish my book would come, I ordered it some time ago, and  still it's not here. 

This is wonderful insightful company with which to discuss such a book. I am tremendously  looking forward to it. 

Everyone is welcome!

ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 52778
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2017, 09:21:16 PM »
I think Bellamarie has identified here an issue that happens a lot: they immediately moved her into their home out of her's which she has lived in since a child, all the years of her marriage and raised her children there.  It is not in the best area of our city, but it is her home and neighbors have watched out for her knowing her husband had bad health.  She has confided in me that she is not sure she wants to leave her house to live with my son and her daughter and their three children.

And there you have it, actually: a dilemma in which you can see both sides. From both perspectives. It raises so many questions...about a lot of things. This is going to be a good one.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2017, 10:19:18 AM »
Ginny, indeed it is a dilemma and is ongoing.  My son was over the other day and was so distraught, he has anxiety issues and takes meds for it. He confides in me when he feels very stressed, and he just does not know what the best solution is for everyone in this situation.  He loves his mother in law, but knowing she could be living in his home for a year is not what any of them expected.  He and his wife are very health conscious, the mother in law is diabetic and overweight so they try to encourage her to do the things to manage her diabetes but she refuses and sneaks sweets into their house.  Her doctor recommended grief counseling and also for her to go to a podiatrist, but she refuses to go.  I'm thinking everyone in this situation may have acted a bit too hasty, even though it was out of the goodness of their hearts.  They are young, active and healthy, she is aging, not so active or healthy.  To add to the mix, they are Catholic and she is Jehovah Witness, so they feel uncomfortable celebrating birthdays and holidays in their home now that she is living with them.  It reminds me of the excerpt from this book:

"Nobody talks Yiddish."

I may buy her a copy of this book when I purchase mine, on second thought I may buy my daughter in law a copy as well.

I found the paperback for only 2.00 plus 3.00 for shipping & handling at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.  I'm headed to Barnes and Noble today so hopefully they will have it in the store and I can save on the shipping & handling. 

PatH.,  What is Abe Books?
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9517
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2017, 12:51:51 PM »
It's an online used book store. 

https://www.abebooks.com/

They seem at least partly to act as a clearing house for many little used book stores.  If you search a book, you get a list, by increasing price, of available copies, from different bookstores.  So you can pick by description, price, and bookseller.  Look at the location of the seller; a few are in the UK.

Bellamarie, I had some similar thoughts about your son's MIL, but I'll save them for the discussion.

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2017, 05:12:03 PM »
To all who are thinking of reading and talking about Number Our Days: Indulge yourselves in great expectations. Without a doubt, you will be thrilled to have lived to enjoy it.

I am sorry to learn that the author died not too long after writing this gem of a book. Here is some information  from the back cover:

'The chairperson of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California, Dr. Myerhoff collaborated on a film about her work while she was doing the research for Number Our Days. It won the 1977 Academy Award for best short documentary.'

Where could one find this film? Does anyone know?

ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 52778
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2017, 05:18:39 PM »
Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aZY1IZc2MU

If this is it. I am not sure I want to watch it before I read the book, if some of you do, let me know how it affects the book.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2017, 09:06:31 AM »
PatH.,  I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

Jonathan, Did you watch the documentary? 

Ginny, Thanks for the link.  I can't believe she died at such a young age.  I may check this out.


We have had heavy rain, wind and cold temps for the past few days.  I went out to do my daily walk inside the mall yesterday and ran out of time to stop in at Barnes and Noble to look for the book.  May venture back out today. 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2017, 02:51:53 PM »
Shucks! It won't come up for me. But thanks, Ginny. It's good to know it's out there, and I will get around to it. This cranky old computer of mine...it's days are numbered. Oh, gosh. Are mine also numbered? Just what is suggested by the  title? Look back? Take stock? Look forward? As in 'Come my friends, 'tis not too late to seek a newer world.' A front page headline in my newspaper yesterday: The elderly now outnumber the children. Over 65, or under 15.

But I was determind to watch something, so I dug up Going In Style and enjoyed it immensely. The old version, with Strasburg, Art Carney and George Burns. Sad and funny. I hope I never lose my knowledge of right and wrong. But what an encouragement to go out and try one's luck in Las Vegas. Not that I need it. I can afford a creamed cheese and jelly sandwich any time I like. And that's often.

Good for you, Bellamarie, on doing that daily walk and what a fine place the Mall turns out to be on a rainy day. Part of my daily ritual is clearing my throat. I do that by reading aloud with all the feeling I can muster. I'm alone and not disturbing anyone. Currently I'm working my way through two books: Churchill's wartime speeches in the House, and George F. Kennans Diaries. Both great stylists.

But for now, it's off to the Center to see what Basha and her friends are up to. They're off to rediscover an Old World, methinks.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2017, 09:02:44 PM »
Ginny that link you posted is only 1 minute 25 seconds long.  Under the comments section they mention how they can not find the entire interview. 

Jonathan I plan to find that movie this weekend and watch it, I might be able to find it on Netflix.  No, your time is not running out, but you do need to consider getting a new computer.  I had to purchase one last year,  Windows 10 is so frustrating.  I've learned it but hate it!!! 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2017, 03:01:53 PM »
George F. Kennan, the diplomat and historian, lived to be 101. He was a compulsive writer, and  everything he wrote is a pleasure to read. Including his diaries. Anything and everything serves as subject matter. A hot summer day in Bagdhad, or the message in last night's dream: 'Someone was trying to say something to me. But what?'

And what does he write in his diary at 94? How is this for an active mind:

May 3, 1998: 'Fell to reflecting on Christ's profoundly deep-seated conviction that he was the Son of God, as well as 'the son of man.' But of what God? What was God "like?" Where was he seated? Had Jesus ever really been there? Of all this, we are told nothing. And since he was born of woman, must have passed infancy and childhood in this world, and since there are no evidences of long absences in his life as a youth, how and when could he have known God? Have been recognized by the latter as his son, and assured himself of the filial relationship?

'They are of, course, silly, inept questions, ignoring and sidestepping the elements of divine mystery, without which there could have been no real Chritianity. And they could easily be misinterpreted. But they and similar questions suggest to me that the God of whom Jesus spoke was, whether or not he himself was aware of this, a concept of his own creative imagination. This sounds, of course, as though I were saying that his God did not really exist, that he was only a figment of his imagination. But things were more complicated than this. The vision Jesus had of God was one not only of imagination but of intuition and of super-conscious conviction, and it was a vision of such power and magnificence that he could see only some deeper meaning in his very awareness of it - that it must have had some ultimate reality, and that he was in some way selected as the conveyor of it to the life of his time.'
(p663)

On March 8, Kennan had written:'The scandal of Mr.Clinton's relationship to his Jewish girl intern is  grinding, more and more sordid and wearisome every day...no one can help him now.'

Feeling outrage at 94! Good for him.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2017, 03:19:45 PM »
A deep thinker indeed!  Wonder if he believed in God, and if he followed any organized religion/faith? 
So he had an opinion on Mr. Clinton.  Can only imagine what he would have felt about Mrs. Clinton and all her scandals throughout this past election year.  It probably made him roll over in his grave!   ;D
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2017, 06:07:07 PM »
'Growing old is not for sissies.'  The author saw it as a high wire act as she watched her elderly friends maintaining their balance in difficult situations.

Shall we switch. I have two interesting alternatives. Somehow it's not surprising that there is little interest in this book. 'Been there. Done that.'? The experience put a guilt trip on the author. Simply for being only half their age. But she was fascinated and spent five years on the research. Permit me to quote her:

'But I would be  a little old Jewish lady one day; thus, it was essential for me to learn what that condition was like, in all its particulars. As a society, we are increasingly cut off from the elderly. We do not have them in the midst of our daily lives, and consequently have no regular acccess to models of successful old age. How can we do anything but dread the coming of age? I consider myself very fortunate in having had, through this work, an opportunity to anticipate, rehearse, and contemplate my own fortune. This has given a temporal integration to my life that seems to me an essential  ingredient in the work of maturing.' p19

How sad that she never had an 'old age' of her own. She died at 50. 

I brought home two prominsing books yesterday: No Place For A Lady, Tales of Adventurous Women Travellers, by Barbara Hodgson. Lavishly illustrated with quaint travel pictures and portraits. And the second one:The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age. Also known as the witch of Wall Street. I read an earlier bio of her, years ago. The Day They Shook the Plum Tree, by Arthur H. Lewis. Is that familiar to anyone?

Rereading Number Our Days twenty-five years along is a whole new experience. Now I'm almost Basha's age and I'm full of admiration at her spunk and spirit.

ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 52778
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2017, 04:19:29 PM »
Jonathan: Shall we switch. I have two interesting alternatives. Somehow it's not surprising that there is little interest in this book. 'Been there. Done that.'?


Switch books? Not me. I'm here if you all are.  I have a lot to learn from these strong survivors.  Been there? I'm not 89 yet and when I am I hope I can take,  if I want to,  a bus to get groceries.

WE are the Greatest Generation. WE are the generation who walked across Europe after WWII. Give up this book discussion? Please.   If there is anybody here at all,  we'll make a HECK of a great discussion, especially with the people now assembled. It IS a month off.

There is a lot to learn in this book, news WE can use, to our advantage. It's how you live not that you live.

Just two days ago on the BBC App (strongly recommended for anybody for news) they featured a 105 year old physician still seeing patients and his exercise regime for the day. Very inspiring. 

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2017, 05:40:34 PM »
A wonderful response, Ginny. Yes, we will make a great discussion out of this book. It's a thriller. It is a world to discover. A great scene. We soon realize that there are more players than even Shakespeare conjured up in his 'All the world's a stage.'

Have a good time in Barcelona. I'm sure you'll have a good time at the soccer game. Or the bullfight? I must tell you sometime why Barcelona is a good place to look for a husband.

Still practicing medicine at 105!!! My hero is also 105. I have his picture on my fridge, on his two-wheel racer, setting new records. Going in style.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2017, 08:57:39 AM »
Shall we switch?  Oh heavens NO!  I am all excited to read, discuss and learn from this book.  Jonathan don't take people not seeming interested as a judgement to the choice of book we are reading.  The participation in posting comments has dwindled regardless of what the topic of the book is.  I just finished the discussion led my PatH., and Joan the book Hidden Figures and was shocked at how few seemed to post and yet we had a book that I felt would really spur on conversation.  I'm not sure why so few are posting anymore.  I like Ginny's enthusiasm,  "WE are the Greatest Generation. WE are the generation who walked across Europe after WWII. Give up this book discussion? Please.   If there is anybody here at all,  we'll make a HECK of a great discussion, especially with the people now assembled. It IS a month off."

We are indeed the Greatest Generation, and I fear there will be no greater generation to come after us!  We are the Baby Boomers, we have lived it all, and are still living through the changes with technology, politics, the millennials, and heaven only knows what the next generation will be called.  Our generation never gives up!  So onward we will go with this book, not to mention we have two of the most highly spirited conversationalists already present in you my dear Jonathan and Ginny. 

I think about the age of Basha, 89 years young.  I will be turning 65 in July and I only pray I will be blessed to live to be 89.  Yes, it is sad the author did not live to experience old age.

For all you mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers out here I wish you a very Happy Mother's Day!
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 52778
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2017, 01:44:01 PM »
I agree with both of you, this is going to be wonderful.

I am entranced by reading the reviews on Goodreads. How many young people were assigned this in Anthropology classes and how much everybody of every age enjoyed it.

Who here is not getting old? What's the alternative? I like the thought of being a Boomer, but I'm too old, but from what I'm reading this should be required reading for every Boomer, who may be finding it hard to adjust to being...gasp..."old." 

There's nobody on this website  who can't discuss the issues in this book from personal experience, either by  knowing somebody or having lived thru it themselves. I feel there's SO much to learn from these folks: the grace with which they handled it or the lack thereof. Who was it that said do not go gentle into that good night?  Rage, rage against the dying of the light? Which are we? Which is the best approach? And the reviews just intrigue me more:
 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/546095.Number_Our_Days

I hope we can take this one slowly and just discuss the issues to our heart's content. I have a LOT of questions I would love to hear everybody's opinions on. 

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9517
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2017, 02:42:05 PM »
My book has come, slightly yellowed paper, but clean and in good condition, so I'm ready to go.

ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 52778
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2017, 08:09:45 PM »
YAY, Pat!! So good to see you here!

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2017, 09:07:33 PM »
'Old age should burn and rave at close of day.'

Young Dylan Thomas didn't know what he was talking about. Or did he? Citing him, however, is a good indication of where this book might take us. Thanks, Ginny.

I just checked out the Goodreads reviews. What a lot of enthusiasm. I'm not surprised that the book is on many college reading lists. Let's give it a whirl. It was over the horizon for me, the first time I read it. You don't have to know Yiddish. It's all explained. Let's go for groceries. The shopping list  will be provided.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2017, 08:17:54 AM »
I'm heading out for Barnes and Noble today to see if they have the book before ordering it.  I especially like this quote. 
(Please feel free to resize to a smaller pic I haven't figured that out yet.) 

"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #27 on: May 18, 2017, 09:51:37 AM »
PatH.,  Thank you for the info on Abe books, I just ordered my copy today for only $3.65.  I tried all the used book stores and no one has it. Barnes and Noble checked and said they could try to track it down and my local used book store offered to also but I decided to just go through Abe online.  They said it is out of print so the only way to get it now is online. 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #28 on: May 18, 2017, 10:56:33 PM »
Very pleased to hear that you've ordered the book, Bellamarie. Pat  already has her copy, yellowed by days, which will only add to its charm. And Ginny is waiting for hers to arrive, with anticipation.

'I hope we can take this one slowly and just discuss the issues to our heart's content. I have a LOT of questions I would love to hear everybody's opinions on.'

I agree wholeheartedly on that, Ginny. I'm looking forward to this. How high can you count? How high do you want to count? At 85, I decided to make a U-turn and retrace my steps. After hearing the reports of a second childhood, I decided to recapture my first. Y'all remember 'trailing  those clouds of glory' when you  arrived on this earth? (Wordsworth?) Listen to the story these people have to tell. The author felt that she might have picked a more exotic branch of the human family, but that was hardly possible.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2017, 04:24:22 PM »
I too agree, I hope we can take this slowly.  There is no hurry, we can discuss any and all thoughts and issues til our hearts content.  Jonathan I love the U-turn retracing your steps.  I feel like I find myself doing that more and more lately.  I have a lot of what ifs, or if only I would haves....
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #30 on: May 29, 2017, 10:30:43 AM »
Ollie, Ollie, Oxen free......where is everyone?  Our discussion begins in just a few days.  I got my book from Abe Books online for $3.65 and no shipping and handling.  Came in perfect condition and waited just a week for it to arrive.  Thank you PatH., for the info.  See ya'll on June 1st.  Having the kids/grandkids over for swim/bbq today.  Happy Memorial Day!!!

"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9517
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #31 on: May 29, 2017, 02:08:51 PM »
It starts the 15th.  Ginny, the leader, is still off admiring Roman ruins.

JoanK and I are still recovering from a magnificent family wedding, and I guess the rest of us are celebrating the start of the swimming season.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #32 on: May 29, 2017, 07:21:23 PM »
Thanks for letting me know PatH., I guess I missed seeing it starts on the 15th.
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #33 on: May 30, 2017, 05:54:11 PM »
It might be nice to hear more of the magnificent family wedding, Pat, as it will be to hear about ancient Roman ruins when Ginny gets back. And the mention of Memorial Day, Bellamarie, brings back many memories of Memorial Days my wife and I spent, vacationing in the U.S. We always enjoyed the parades. In a small village on Cape Cod, or in Gettysburg, the Civil War shrine.

What a book. And what a good author. Imagine my surprise, finding her anthologized in The Oxford Book of Aging. She has some wise words about a very curious 'developmental task of old age.' She does keep her old folks busy, as we shall find out.

It was just for fun that I mentioned the subject of recapturing one's childhood; but Myerhoff gets serious about it. The talk is about 'magical Proustian moments;' but then she gets serious, as in this:

'Often such moments involve childhood memories, and then one experiences the self as it was originally, and knows beyond doubt that one is the same person as that child who still dwells within a time-altered body. Integration through memory with earlier states of being surely provides the sense of continuity and completeness that may be counted as an essential developmental task of old age.'

And I can't get over her disagreement with Dr. Freud:

'Freud has suggested that the completion of the mourning process requires that those left behind develop a new reality which no longer includes what has been lost. But it must also be said that full recovery from mourning may restore what has been lost, maintaining it through incorporation into the present. Full recollection and retention may be as vital to recovery and well-being as the forfeiture of memories.'

I find that very consoling. And true. I was under the  impression that Ginny was going to Barcelona, Spain. Of course the Romans scattered their ruins all over the place.

PatH

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 9517
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2017, 10:34:06 AM »
Oops.  You're right, Jonathan; I forgot she said she was going to Barcelona.  but knowing Ginny, I feel sure there will be Roman artifacts somewhere in her trip.

I agree with you that it's wrong to say that mourning includes making a reality that doesn't include what was lost.  That's part of you, and it isn't going to go away, and shouldn't.  There is a kind of rearranging, life is different, but the past is not lost.

bellamarie

  • Posts: 2988
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #35 on: June 01, 2017, 04:27:18 PM »
Well now, could we see this as a Freudian slip?  I can't imagine thinking we must develop a new reality which no longer includes what has been left behind.  My lost loved ones remain in my thoughts, heart, memories and prayers.  I could never leave them behind.  They are a part of who I am, it is impossible to leave them behind.

I have a friend trekking through Europe with a group of college students and teachers.  She has been posting the most amazing pictures on Facebook.  I feel as if I am traveling along with her. 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #36 on: June 03, 2017, 05:07:02 PM »
A Freudian slip. That's an interesting way to see it, Bellamarie. Dealing with memories, as with dreams, is a tricky business. But isn't psychiatry all about chasing memories and dreams? And doing things with them. Then the anthropologist comes along and a new dimension is added. Of course this disagreement never comes up in our book.

Interesting that you should bring up prayers. There are some lovely Jewish prayers spoken on remembrance occasions. Here are a couple:

'But if we were to  let remembrance of kindred and friends vanish like smoke, they would die in us a second death.'

'In praying Thee to remember the dead, we plead that our remembrance of them be not merely a passing flutter of regret, but a spur to nobler living.'


How to make a new life for oneself? Isn't that an interesting proposition for the elderly?

Jonathan

  • Posts: 1386
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2017, 10:43:10 PM »
5 - Counting the days. The numbering with its wisdom will come later, hopefully. I'm thrilled at the prospect of making it to Venice. With an ocean view! I propose we meet on the boardwalk - early - to get one of the benches.

'As the morning wears on, the benches fill. Benches are attached back to back, one side facing the ocean, one  side the boardwalk. The people on the ocean side swivel around to face their friends... it's like a village plaza, a focus of protracted, intense sociability.'

What's this Lower East Side crowd doing in California? Let's join them and find out. We're few in numbers, so one bench will accomodate us just nicely. Who needs a minyen. The new dispensation goes - where two or three are gathered together for a serious purpose....it's all about choosing the right bench:

'The women's benches are given more to talk about immediate personal matters - children, food, health, neighbors, love affairs, scandals, and 'managing.' '

Why does the author have them 'numbering' their days?

Annie

  • BooksDL
  • Posts: 2841
  • Downtown Gahanna
    • SeniorLearn
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2017, 02:31:46 AM »
Ginny, due to moving to my new villa (that's what they call them)😄😄! On the 15th and will still be moving on the rest of the month, I am not going to have much to say.  Probably nothing! I have read about the fist half but don't have time to finish it.  Sorry about that!  Hope you all enjoy it!🤓❤️🙏
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

ginny

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 52778
Re: Number Our Days
« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2017, 09:02:48 AM »
Well I can certainly understand that, Ann, and I hope in the excitement of moving you may still find some time to drop by since you are actually living the very theme of the book, your reflections will be of great interest.

I found on my trip that I myself am suddenly and somewhat unfortunately also living the theme of the book. I'm surprised at the number of people who want to suddenly carry my bags, who ask in a concerned manner,  "are you OK?" (what, do I appear to be dying?)   People who, kind souls that they are, I hope they are all blessed 10000 fold, but why are they grabbing my bags and taking them on and off trains, plains, and buses?  Can't they see I'm 29? And perfectly fit? That last woman in the airport I swear was  older than I am. Have I, overnight, become "elderly?"

I found that I can't keep up with two 40 year olds and a 10 year old all day long and I mean all day, (all of whom are in splendid shape but guess who was not and thought she was?) and suddenly it's really been evident to me when it wasn't before.

This is going to take some adjustment.  Should I sign up now for a physical Olympic Training for the Elderly  course? Whither?  It's really quite a shock, nothing like international travel to reveal it, and I think at any age that's what we ask ourselves as we, perennially young in spirit,  (I'm about 29 like Jack Benny, right?) begin to realize that maybe we're not.

So is this it?

On the trip I picked up Margaret Drabble's new book The Dark Flood Rises. Perhaps you've heard of it. I don't like Margaret Drabble, never did, but she CAN write, I don't admire  her feud with her sister A.S. Byatt for one thing (which is none of my business) but the first lines caught my eye: "She has often suspected that her last words to herself and to the world will prove to be 'You bloody old fool,' or perhaps, depending on the mood of the day or the time of the night,' you f****ing idiot.'"

Now there are some opening words.  Drabble, who herself is no Spring Chicken, is being honest here, perhaps something we've all thought, or maybe you haven't, I've had people say something very like that to me before, and I sometimes wonder what IT means, and so I'm reading it in tandem.

She said she chose to write about this age group and issues because nobody else was.  How can it be that there are so many of "us," or what appear to be "us," (as I apparently am now in that category?) and yet no books for our experience?

Well Myerhoff has written a humdinger about "us,"  and knowing Drabble,  (who is writing fiction and Myerhoff is not) there will be some differences in opinion expressed. How could there not be? I think this is a wonderful opportunity to be honest about aging and I'm tremendously looking forward to  our opening day Wednesday.

(If the green ink bothers you, please say so. I'm used to doing it, I do it in the Latin classes, and it seems odd to leave it out. I note the new issue of Consumer Reports taking up issues in aging  puts their text in white ink on a light green background. Really? Who can read that who is interested in those issues? So if the green offends, it's out, let me know?)

Everyone is welcome!