Two new books on ageing

In 1984, actually a century ago, private function (It should be listed among the top five quietly devastating yet hilarious movies in the world, and if you disagree, you’re ignoring the fact that Alan Bennett co-wrote it) Let the incomparable Maggie Smith wade through Apologizing for her mother’s inconsistencies—”she’s 74 years old”—with a disparaging expression, assuming her audience already understood. In a closely watched world of hierarchies, the old woman was undoubtedly at the bottom: largely ignored, tired of being scorned.

74 seemed old at the time, but not enough, with one exception, to be one of the 20 interviewees in Maggie Kirkman’s book The Times We Live In: Celebrating Older Women. The cut-off point is 1946. . This generation was the last to grow up without television, and while the book doesn’t make that explicit, it becomes all the more relevant as we learn about their various childhood experiences. Just a few years later, television has influenced baby boomers as much as school, church and home.

The exception is Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, who was born in Dali River in 1950-51 and is a female of the Ngan’gityemerri language family, which is good. Kirkman explained that the gap between Aboriginal life expectancy and the rest of Australia’s population is so wide that enforcing the standard would risk excluding a respected artist and teacher, who, after all, An elderly person is the 2021 Australian Senior Person of the Year.

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, a respected artist and teacher, is the 2021 Australian Veteran of the Year. She appears in Maggie Kirkman's book.

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, a respected artist and teacher, is the 2021 Australian Veteran of the Year. She appears in Maggie Kirkman’s book.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

The oldest subject was another exception: Jacqueline Dwyer, who was born in 1925 and died in 2020. Her Ph.D. at age 90 is enough time for Kirkman to explore her writings and present her small but significant biography. Dwyer and another ninety-something, Judith Deakin Harley, represent what some might envy: wealthy and well-connected what a Brit might call “upper-middle-class.” class” level.

Born in 1929, Deakin Harley enjoyed the most extravagant privileges Australia could afford, enough to associate with the most influential people in the world. Through her mother, she was the granddaughter of Alfred Deakin and the daughter of Thomas White, Minister of Knighthood in the Menzies government, who was appointed British High Commissioner in 1951 Commissioner. She visited Buckingham Palace so often that Prince Philip would say “No it’s you again!” She was able to get married at Westminster Abbey.


Margarita Magnussen, Author The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, also lives a relatively privileged life in Sweden, one of the most progressive and safe countries on earth.she reminds us The Swedish art of wellness, she wanted to give something back. It’s a funny and heartfelt acknowledgment of how lucky she was to be born in the time and place where she is.

She now fervently hopes that her grandchildren will have the same healthy rainforest and ocean as she did in her youth. She praised people like David Sedaris who, she said, never went out for a walk with a garbage bag on their backs, collected rubbish, and made the world a better place by crossing.

Many of Kirkman’s subjects lead such lives, lives of generosity and self-giving, but it’s much more than a short resume. The way she interacts with them makes the book an interview with herself as well. Her palpable sympathy is heating up: While each woman’s life is a few pages long, we have to care.

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