We fade to grey

We fade to grey

On the release of Darkly Wood II this week I thought this appropriate to reblog for my cover girl who will be 92 this May

The beautiful girl on the cover of my latest book is my partner’s mother Joan.  Affectionately known to all as Jomammy, she was 21 when this photo was taken on Dollymount strand in Dublin in 1946.  This week Jomammy turns 90.  What a wonderful achievement to have lived so long and to still be, for the most part independent.

Her upcoming birthday made me consider how she has become invisible to so many people in so many situations.  Many people ignore her as though she doesn’t exist.  Her failing hearing does not help, as it makes it difficult to have a conversation with her sometimes.  I say difficult not impossible and it doesn’t excuse people for not making the effort.  Sometimes she repeats stories that we have all heard a million times but don’t we all.  When she tells me something I have heard fifty times, I ask a different question about her story and I am always surprised that she will often squeeze out a new interesting memory.  It doesn’t take much.

I’m a long way from 90 but I’m no spring chicken either.  My fade has already begun.  Once I turned the young ladies heads, now they see past me.  Not that I need their attention but the change is striking and it reminds me that we all grow old…if we are lucky enough.  I know I will become less important, less relevant, less interesting to people around me.  I wish it wasn’t so but when I look at Jomammy and how people almost without thought can fail to see the woman beneath the grey hair, I know it is true.

The photo of her on my cover is a reminder that she was once a vibrant, sexy young woman, with suitors, friends and admirers.  In her head I have no doubt she is not the 90 year old woman who peeks back from her mirror.

So in this short blog I have a simple wish.  That wish is that as you go through your day, when you meet an older person that perhaps you might normally see straight through, take a moment and consider this.  The person you see has a life story and the person you pass has value and what they have to share, may enhance your life if only you take a moment to stop, care, listen and engage them in conversation.  Someday it may well be you that fades away into the background.

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19 thoughts on “We fade to grey

  1. Reblogged this on James Milson's Blog & Things and commented:
    A brilliant post by friend Max Power on his Blog. Where elders were once respected, honored and treasured, our society now regards them more as a disposable inconvenience. The outside grey most frequently disguises a youthful vibrant spirit, captured perfectly by Max’s observations. The image in the mirror may be ninety, but the spirit gazing at the image is nineteen.

    Please visit Max Power’s blog and check out his wide variety of stories and writings.

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  2. Nice work on this piece Patrick, and she was indeed a handsome woman. I’ve no doubt that to some 70+ or 80+ men she still is …
    Although I’ve lived in the northeast of England since leaving the military I visit my mother in Glasgow at least once a year. I was born when she was 17 so she is 79 this year and therefore totally mathes the description in the summary of your post.
    I called her yesterday and we chatted for about an hour. I call her about every two or three weeks since my dad passed away a few years ago.
    In my three day week in the stationery store I constantly get a laugh when I deal with the older ladies.
    I always say things like, ‘How can we help you today young lady?’
    or
    ‘Hello girls, what are we looking for today?’
    It has an amazing effect, apart from giving me and the customers a laugh.

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    1. It’s true Tom, by those small gestures I’m sure you’ve brightened up many a day ., We’ve just sold our house to move to another one where we can move her in with us as she’s independent but getting a little too forgetful for her own safety. Thanks for the kind words

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  3. A very moving post that reminds us, yes, we do fade into the background, making way for the next generation. Like nature, we humans are cyclical. I have started my fade as well, but I’m okay with that. Because it’s the way things should be. New life comes from death, and the whole thing starts all over again. We should always take time to really see and listen to those who are nearing the end of their road. They can teach us so much. Love your insight on this!

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  4. That struck a chord. We visited an old age home here to cheer them up and on the walls they had posters of the residents when they were young and vibrant, wedding photos, with their young children, as models, or at work. What a sad contrast, especially with those now suffering dementia. It gave us a whole new perspective to our visits.

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  5. So true, Patrick, and we’re all heading that way. I think old people should be respected and shown gratitude for all they’ve done. We have a lovely woman in her nineties living around the corner. She has some interesting tales to tell. She was on the

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  6. Oops. Sorry. I’ll continue. She was on the Gustloff, the ship that was bombed as it was taking refugess from East Prussia near the end of the war. She has a smile for everyone and it’s lovely to see all the neighbours driving her to town and helping her with her groceries. The saddest place is an old folk’s home though. She’s one of the lucky ones, like your Jomammy.

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  7. Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
    I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a lot of older people over the years, and it’s true that in our youth we can be a little impatient as they repeat themselves or express views that can seem outdated or intolerant. Fortunately, I was brought up to be respectful and have been prepared to be open-minded, so I’ve learnt a lot about past times that reinforce just how lucky I am to live in the modern world. And as a younger man my mind was stretched enough to allow me to realise that those old folks were just like me once – going to parties, carefree and filled with laughter, active and attractive. But also that many of them still endured a lot of hardships to give us the freedoms we enjoy now. One bloke in particular I know is in his late 90s now and not only fought in Burma in WWII, but spent the largest part of his life with a sexual preference that was illegal. Now he spends most of his time alone as he isn’t mobile enough to go out on his own and he has no immediate family. Unfortunately, I don’t live close enough to pop in and see him every day, and when he’s out of sight he’s out of mind, so it would be easy to ignore him. But I try to see him once a week because he’s worth the effort. And, besides…. That could be me one day.

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  8. That was a beautiful post. I guess because I love history, I’ve always been facsinated by older people and the stories they have to share. It frustrates me that so many young people feel themselves superior and are too shortsided to realize that they too will be old one day. Also that we are losing that wonderful generation of people who lived through the heart of WWII. In the US people in the younger generations have never known that kind of hardship and deprivation (unless the imigrated here from another country.) Jomammy must have endured and thrived during some arduous ordeals. But that’s what makes her so special and interesting.

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  9. When I take my mum out she will ask me the same question over and over and I always try to construct my answer in a different way. I love this blog post. It is a keen observation of our society.

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  10. Thanks for you post. Most people write-off the elderly but I think it depends on the relationship they had with their grandparents. I am so proud of my young adult children in the way they respect their old granny. They are patient with her, like you, asking about the stories we have all heard a hundred times. They make her laugh and remind her of the silly things they did as kids.
    I read an article recently that said when you turn sixty you are in the infancy of old age. I had to have a chuckle and told myself, age is just a number, right?

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  11. It gave me quite a shock the first time I saw the posters they had put up in the local Spanish old age home – the residents in the prime of their life. It was a stark reminder that once they were the important ones, that they had achieved so much in their lives and were now, many of them, simply breathing dummies in God’s waiting room. One of them had once been the pinup girl for Smirnoff gin.

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