LEARNING FROM THE BEST


"My most essential art, which is not that of writing but the domestic art of knowing how to wait, to conceal, to save up crumbs, to reglue,regild, change the worst into the not-so-bad, how to lose and recover in the same moment that frivolous thing, a taste for life." Colette


The life of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, writer of genius, musical hall performer and make-up artist confirmed what Shakespeare had to say of Cleopatra, "age cannot wither her nor does custom stale her infinite variety." She was 62 when she married Maurice Goudeket. He was a pearl broker 17 years her junior. Colette provincial Burgundian whose love of the land never faltered. Goudeket was an erudite urban Jew and a pearl broker. During their thirty year marriage they were much more than lovers. They were partners who playedtogether shared ideas, who worked together and who played together. Referring to a conversation that last for four and a half hours, Colette wrote to her friend Marguerite Moreno,
"How it satisfies me...to find that my partner is on the right wavelength."
Goudeket, in turn, said in The Delights of Growing Old,
"I set myself gently by the side of this woman whom life has so wounded and I did so with the firm determination of proving to her that fidelity was not an empty word. Year by year she grew more persuaded of this, and her last books bear witness to a serenity that she would not otherwise have acquired."

Not every woman is that lucky. According to the US Census Bureau,

"In 2002, among people 55 years and over, men were more likely than women to be married and living with their spouse (74 percent and 50 percent, respectively).

Because women have longer life expectancies than men, it is not surprising that 31 percent of women and only 9 percent of men aged 55 and over were widowed. With increasing age, the proportions of women who were widowed rose rapidly: 10 percent of women 55 to 64, 41 percent of women 65 to 84, and 79 percent of women 85 and over."

How do older women living alone enrich their lives? How do they prepare for physical changes that come with aging? How does being single and older affects their standing in the community? What sort of economic challenges do they face and how do they cope with them? How much political power do they have? How do they influence public policy? How many of them connect with others through the Internet? How do they form support groups? How active are they in the movement for racial and religious tolerance? What are they doing to help the environment? How do they interact with younger people? In other words, what sort of legacy to they choose to leave behind? Please share your story with me for a book in progress.

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