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ELDER GRACE Mavis Wilson Swire, 2002

Mavis Wilson Swire, 2002

Evelyn Edmund, 2000

The Nobility of Aging


lder Grace has taken me on a journey into my own future — my own aging. Most of us have a fear of the natural process of growing older. None of us knows how we will fare, what loved ones will be with us, or who will leave us behind. In spite of all this, some of us miraculously blossom, seasoned by years of living. These are the faces that shine, etched and honed by life in all its complexity — these are the people, like the wise elders I grew up among, who have a saying, a thought, a wish or advice for all who take the time to listen. “Whatever you do, it’s important that you make a mark on life, or else you could very well die undeclared,” said my great uncle March Forth McGowan. In the course of life when we are younger, we want to be older. But as we age, we flip-flop — we want to stay young. Perhaps this is a universal truth, but there can be no doubt that it is especially accurate today. We as a society do not honor our elders, and as a result very few of us are emotionally comfortable in aging bodies. Today, individuals who blossom and season well are on their own special paths. They are beacons — in my mind perhaps even national treasures — whom we as a society need not only to appreciate and applaud, but also to study and emulate. Refusing to surrender to the societal pressures of ageism, these people are proud pioneers who rely on their own inner selves and instincts. Perhaps by aging gracefully, we can become elders too. Chester Higgins Jr., Fort Greene, Brooklyn Bulfinch 2004 © Chester Higgins Jr.

March Forth McGowan, 1980

John Henrik Clarke, 1995

Judy Blackman, 2000

Muriel Harris, 2001

Arina Latham Holmes 1999

Joyce Maynard Watson, 2001

Mavis Wilson Swire, 2002

Elder Grace book excerpt  

Excerpt photographs and text from the book Elder grace by Chester Higgins, Jr.

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