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Grow Old Along With Me : The Best Is Yet to Be Hardcover – September 21, 1996
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From the Publisher
GROW OLD ALONG WITH ME-THE BEST IS YET TO BE is a celebration of aging as only Sandra Martz (editor of the million-copy bestseller WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE) can bring us. This honest, vibrant, and heartwarming collection of writings from both women and men explores the journey through midlife and into old age. "The voices of older Americans come through loud, clear, and artistic." (Mother Jones)
From grandmothers coaxing their muscles in dance class to fathers challenging sons in the games of baseball and of life, from a love-struck widow seeking predictions from a mysterious fortune teller to a woman tenderly reassuring her husband that she has "no hunger for young flesh," the voices in this unique volume reach beyond the page to touch our hearts, enrich our souls, and transform our perception of aging.
Whether newlyweds or celebrating milestone anniversaries, this charming collection, "written from experience and from the heart" (Publishers Weekly), will be a cherished gift. The audiocassette edition was a 1996 Grammy finalist.
From the Author
While editing Grow Old Along with Me-The Best Is Yet to Be, I reflected on how this anthology differs from its predecessor, When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple. The answer is found, I feel, in both the social changes that have occurred in the last ten years and in the changed perspectives of the writers. Much of the material in When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple was written in the early eighties. About half of the writers in the collection were in their mid-forties or younger, women my age. They painted tender word pictures of mothers and grandmothers and older women friends. They, and I, viewed aging earnestly, poignantly, tenderly-and with a certain distance.
Today my generation is firmly entrenched in middle age, marching stalwartly ahead of the baby boomers. Two-thirds of the women writers whose work was selected for Grow Old Along with Me are over fifty; one-third are over sixty. This is our story now: our age spots, our menopause, our arthritic bones.
Our expectations about growing older have shifted dramatically in the last decade, influenced by the prospect of longer life spans, increased awareness of health and fitness, more positive media images of older women, and the changed perceptions of women's roles in a world that grew out of the social movements of the sixties and seventies. We expect to be taken more seriously-by politicians, by the medical community, by our religious leaders, by our families. But we also demand the freedom to take life less seriously-to be unconventional, to flaunt our grey hair and wrinkles, to be age proud. It's an exciting time to be an older woman.
Compiling Grow Old Along with Me also provided the opportunity to look at another perspective on aging: how men feel about growing older. Over the last several years an increasing number of men have attended anthology readings around the country. Their level of interest in the issues discussed and their enthusiasm about participating in this type of emotionally evocative exploration of aging prompted me to broaden the scope to include both men and women.
For most of my editorial life, my work has focused on women writers and women's issues. I wasn't sure what kind of material to expect from male writers. Any assumptions I had, however, were challenged by my commitment to keep an open ear, an open heart.
In the end the differences between what men and women had to say about aging were minor. The men in the stories and poems seemed a little more likely to define themselves through their work, to be more reflective about the mark they felt they had (or had not) made on the world, or to be more anxious about retirement and what they would do with their lives afterward. But these issues also surfaced for some of the women. The women in the stories and poems generally seemed better prepared for their old age, more excited about new beginnings as family structures shifted. Yet there were also men on the brink of new adventures and experiencing new personal insights. Particularly satisfying were the writers who spoke from the other side's point of view-men writing about women and women writing about men-the result, perhaps, of writers who are really caring listeners.
Common threads ran throughout the material: the need to be loved, the importance of family connections, an acceptance of the aging process. There were observable differences when the writings were grouped by age of the characters in the stories. Self-assessment, both physical and psychological, was most likely to emerge in the stories and poems depicting people in their fifties and early sixties. Those in their late sixties and seventies often focused on letting go, retirement, loss of life partners. The very old were especially eloquent when celebrating life's simplicity.
It is hard to find the right words to describe the photographs. Beautiful. Courageous. Tender. Vigorous. Joyful. They stand alone as visual poems. They complement and illuminate the text. The work would not be the same without them.
These writers and photographers leave me challenged and eager to greet the future. I invite you, dear reader, to "Grow old along with me-the best is yet to be."