My mom has always said that, when you become old, you become invisible as you’re no longer taken into consideration. So when I read Elizabeth Strout’s Olive, Again where the book’s protagonist says the same thing, I immediately thought of my mom. And the consequences of living a long life.
Olive, Again, a series of vignettes, evolves around the inhabitants of a small town in Maine. Olive, a crusty and unapologetic elderly woman, is the fil rouge that glues all the stories together. Although we have much in common with others, there is, says Olive, no simple truth about human existence. We all struggle because that’s the way life is and there’s nothing we can do about it.
The book focuses on growing old. Thus getting closer to death. Written in a matter of fact sort of way, it forced me to make certain reflections regarding my own life.
Age transforms you physically and mentally. Life expectancy continues to expand but, unfortunately, quality of life isn’t always compatible with this expansion. For example, the number of those affected b dementia continues to grow.
The thing about dementia really scares me. You spend all those years collecting memories only to forget so much—including important things like the people you most love. We can keep the body alive but not memories. And without our memories, a part of us dies.
Epilogue: Nothing is more democratic than death.
Things to do: make a “Good Memories” book for the self.
I too loved that book, and the one before it. (Have you read Olive Kitteridge?)
Not yet…waiting to find it in a bookstore here in Rome!