Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - May 2, 2002

Never too old to experience new things

Some people, when they reach a certain age, feel like they're too old to learn or experience new things.

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks," the saying goes.

My 92-year-old mother-in-law is an exception. Although she often says it's hard for her to change at her age, she's usually willing to try new things - even though Art says it sometimes takes a stick of dynamite to blast her out of her comfort zone. Last week, for example, she rode a

school bus for the first time in her life. She joined Art, our daughter Katie and me on an Underground Railroad tour in a bus filled with noisy third graders. She could have said, "No, I'll pass. I'm getting too old for this." But she didn't. And not only was it her first school bus ride, it was also the first time she really had a chance to chat with an African American for any length of time.

Then I began to think of other people I know who have been willing to jump into new experiences regardless of whether society would consider them too old for such adventures.

My 87-year-old Uncle Bob, who lost his second wife late last spring, married for the third time in December. He and his 83-year-old "bride" honeymooned at my parents' home in Manhattan. They were as lighthearted about their lives together as any young newlywed couple I've ever seen.

My high school friends Joyce and Bruce married in March. Both of their lives have had their rocky spots and they could have chosen to just not try again. But instead, they decided to navigate around the obstacles.

Another example is provided by a good family friend from my hometown. Tom, a confirmed bachelor in the opinion of most people of the town, took the plunge last year. He married Nedy, a Bolivian woman he has known for more than 20 years. He is 50+ and she just turned 40. A few weeks ago, they told us the exciting news that they are expecting a child. Although they are older than most people who experience pregnancy for the first time, they are as excited as any couple.

Art's favorite example of old dogs learning new tricks concerns computers and family history. Ten years ago when computers were just beginning to become popular, he heard many older folks say they could never learn to operate one. But at the Manhattan Family History Center, senior citizens researching their families made it difficult for him to get access to one of the center's computers.

It all seems to hinge on attitude. If you stay interested in life, the learning and changing seem to come naturally.

Left, Tom and Nedy Grimwood in spring 2002, and right,
Iris and Bob Freeland with me in December 2001.

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