The only picture in this book is on the cover. See? Down at the lower left is the author--Lillian Rubin herself. An 80-plus sociologist and psychotherapist, her subtitle is "the truth about aging." The "truth" is mostly geared to those who are white, middle-class, and educated Not everyone.
That's fine with me. Are you surprised? It would be very presumptious for Rubin to be take on the entire population over 60. We need more voices to tell us what it's like to be a black man--middle-level, never-married who retired at 64 from a government job, for example. His life and mine are miles apart.
Perhaps her book will inspire others, to write about aging after 60 from varyious perspectives-- race/class/gender identity. Some experiences will be similar. All of us past experiencing these years move uncertainly in a swiftly changing world with few guidelines.
While she includes problems currently discussed frequently in the media--aging children caring for their parents-- her own anger when her difficult, 85 year old mother on the opposite coast resisted the move to an assisted-living facility. Rubin was in her late sixties. She notes:
By the time the leading edge of the baby boomers reaches their seventies and eighties, they'll have 100-year-old parents to deal with...
Though the book is filled with the reality we know--the consequences of often roleless and longer life spans, the loss of social networks--I enjoyed reading it. It was as if a conversation was going on between us.
A sociologist and psychotherapist, Rubin speaks of "age grading" where people separate themselves by age. My own efforts to point this out among peers is always met with resistance. Many have commented on the discomfort felt by pre-retirement individuals toward colleagues who have left the work force. In an ageist culture the next division is the old vis a vis the older. Personally I feel it in my seventies from women in their sixties. I sense its their fear about the future. Very understandable with so much media emphasis on bad news about the elderly.
Rubin is an insightful writer whose articles on race, class, gun control (to name a few) continue to appear in Dissent magazine. Missing for me in 60 on Up were ideas for how--or if--those over 60 might bring about change for themselves. Personally she did it by starting to paint after 70. Would she like my workshop idea, "Blogs and Zines for Geezers" as a way toward both agency and creativity?
Pleased her photo was on the cover--only wish it had been larger. [Thanks to bloggers Ronni Bennett and Cowtown Pattie for the link to an hour-long interview with Lillian Rubin where she mentioned that her publisher would not put "80" in the title because "...people would not buy it." More provocative issues like sex and unconditional love are addressed. Some of her ideas on living a long life surprised me--a good thing!]