Age is Only a Number

I read a story in the New York Times this morning that got me all choked up. Literally. I had to wipe a tear from my eye while sitting in a room with two co-workers, trying to avoid any suspicion that I was web-surfing and not responding to business emails.

I wrote in a post a while back about the severe lack of depictions of love beyond that of the young and brand new in our culture. Writers and filmmakers rarely follow through with the story, so we – captive as we are to the media surrounding us – are given limited examples of mature relationships.

I cannot put into words how I felt about the opening anecdote in today’s piece “Love in the Time of Dimentia.”

Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, has a romance with another woman, and the former justice is thrilled — even visits with the new couple while they hold hands on the porch swing — because it is a relief to see her husband of 55 years so content.

Perhaps heartbreaking is the only word.

Historically, love in older age has not been given much of a place in culture, Dr. Cole said. It once conjured images that were distasteful or even scary: the dirty old man, the erotic old witch.

That is beginning to change, Dr. Cole said, as life expectancy increases, and a generation more sexually liberated begins to age. Nursing homes are being forced to confront an increase in sexual activity.

And despite the stereotypes, researchers who study emotions across the life span say old love is in many ways more satisfying than young love — even as it is also more complex, as the O’Connors’ example shows.

Do yourself a favor and read it, if you are interested. My commentary could only lessen the effect of such a beautifully written and profound article.


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Filed under Life, the Universe, and Everything, Touch

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