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Ageing With Attitude 

June 9, 2021 June 2021 No Comments

An Anglo-Irish writer named Oliver Goldsmith said “I love everything that’s old, – old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.” He was around from 1728 – 1774 and I am enchanted by the idea that everything I love today was also special 250 years ago.

My grandfather, John Paluck, lived until he was 94. He was special to me for many reasons including our joint love of books. I used to call him every week or two, from wherever I was in the world, and after check-ins on health and current affairs, we would share highlights of what we were currently reading. The year after my Grandma died, Gramps downsized the family home they had lived in for over 50 years. I was in Canada at the time and helped him pack up his books for the move. We were the wrong people for this job, because each book had a story and I revelled in his telling of them. Packing up took us many, many days.

As with each of my grandparents, I was overseas when Gramps died. I couldn’t grieve at his funeral, but later felt him close to me when his books arrived in Featherston in a shipping container. My Dad had packed them in the order they came off the bookshelves: the boxes had wonderful labels like “second and third shelves from the top.” As I unpacked, I whispered apologies to my Gramps as I re-grouped his books into categories that made sense to me. I feel him here now, all around me: his books represent his life and his stories and my history.

People who know me know that I moved to Featherston because of the annual Booktown Karukatea Festival (which was amazing again this year, May 6-9). At the opening fish & chip dinner, I sat next to a gorgeous woman who started writing poetry in Masterton in the 1970s. At 81, Rachel McAlpine recently published How To Be Old and her poetic reflections have made me laugh and made me think. I later encountered Renée talking about crime-writing and the adventures of ageing, caring less and less about what others think. She is NINETY-ONE! 

We’re not all book lovers, but we do all have a story to tell and in telling it, we share a part of ourselves with the listener, be they mokopuna or a stranger at a book festival. Winter hours spent indoors are a perfect time to share stories: you are never too old to start! It’s one way of living on as a special part of our world, and has been since at least 1774. 

One of Age Concern’s team work from the Waihinga Martinborough Community Centre on the third Wednesday of every month (June 17th 10:30-3:00). Drop in for a confidential conversation about any issues affecting you directly, or an older person that you care about. You can also call us on 06-377-0066.

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