Growing Old Gracefully with Gratitude

Cicero, a great orator in Greece at 106-43 BC told the world about the potential in Gratitude thousands of years ago and we can benefit hugely from his advice in the 21st Century!

What did he gift to us?  He taught us about the happiness that we can create and enjoy if we build Gratitude into our life.

What is it that can be so valuable about Gratitiude?

It is the feelings of joy, excitement, appreciation, warmth, satisfaction we can build into our contact with other human beings. In our interactions with our contacts, as we meet and speak with our families, our friends, our partners, our colleagues or whoever, we have the opportunity to make them feel happy and positive about themselves, and also create enjoyment in ourselves as we convey or experience gratitude from our exchange.

Gratitude between people can enrich, can inform, can promise, can inspire, can forgive, can please.

Experiencing gratitude has the power to make us and others happier about how we work, about our exchanges, about our and their achievements, our and their kindness, and their shared experiences. No wonder Cicero’s thought can provide the greatest of all human experiences.       

What can we be Grateful for ? Here are some ways in which some people build gratitude into their life – the examples below are some ways that different people have described how they have experienced feelings of gratitude:

This list of course can be endless because each of us, in our unique life, can have many things to appreciate and be grateful for, even if sometimes we can be more conscious of our problems than our joys. What would you want to add to this list of things that you have been especially grateful for ? 

Some people have found that gratitude is such an attractive element for them in their life that they build it into a daily habit. One way of doing this is by keeping a gratitude diary. Keeping such a diary can be a way of requiring our thoughts of gratitude to become part of our everyday life.

It can simply be a special diary or note book which they can use daily or weekly to note moments of gratitude that build up special memories. The owner of the diary can start their entry with “today I am grateful for …………….” and build up a history of positive moments in an everyday life. Some diary users have a special time (say their final act in the evening before bed?). Some use their entry for special people (“ I was especially grateful today for my mother or a special friend…………………etc.)

What can be helpful is to think about what is special in terms of each day’s gratitude and remind yourself of its importance and what it means to you

One older person who celebrated their 82nd birthday turned it into a celebration of gratitude by this list of “Thank you’s”

  • “Thank you for sharing my celebration – I am very grateful you are here
  • “I have reached the age of 82 and have had many great friends who made my life very lucky and special in that time”
  • I am grateful …….to have had great parents and grandparents who were never wealthy but gave me a great start in life.”
  • “I am grateful……….that 55 years ago I was introduced to a girl called Margaret and we are still a pair
  • “I am grateful  ……. that I have 6 very grown-up children who have given me lots of happiness (and a few challenges at times !) and now give me 12 grandchildren who make me very happy
  • “I am grateful …..that I have longstanding friends in north and south who are loyal and great company
  • “I am grateful …. that we have enjoyed walking and travelling and are still able to do some of that
  • “I am grateful ….. we have had a house that we bought very cheaply some 50 years ago and we can still live in it
  • “I am grateful ….. that you made my birthday very special by being here

“Gratitude is infectious and contagious. It builds on peoples’ strengths and generosity. It creates well-being and even happiness. It is hugely valuable and important”


‘Here is a one-sentence formula for becoming a grateful person:

Think, Speak, and Act like a grateful person does’.

Rabbi Zelig Pilskin in his book ‘Thank you!: Gratitude: Formulas, Stories and Insights’

Michael Scally is from Leeds, born on Halton Moor; he taught for many years and is the author of  a number of books with Barrie Hopson including ‘Build your own Rainbow’ and ‘Lifeskills Teaching‘. He is now gratefully retired.

The impact of Covid-19 on 50-70 year olds – from the Centre for Ageing Better

A new report by Ipsos MORI and the Centre for Ageing Better shines a light on the impact lockdown has had on those aged 50-70, revealing dramatic changes to people’s lives and their plans for the future.  

The interesting short video above is a compilation of clips from people describing their own experiences, both negative and positive.

To watch some more short videos on specific aspects of the impact of Covid-19 such as health, housing and work, see this playlist on their Youtube channel

Ageing Better held a recent webinar focussing on the Neighbourhood Networks in Leeds and Birmingham – see the one hour recording HERE

This was one in a series of webinars entitled ‘Road to Recovery’. The next one is on Weds 12th August and will explore ‘Bridging the Digital Divide’, again including speakers from Leeds.

The Centre for Ageing Better is working hard to highlight the issues facing older people in the recovery phase after Covid-19 – see their website for more details.

‘A Moment of Revelation’ by a Diocesan priest

The other day I was advised that I needed a routine chest x-ray (not COVID-19 related). The nearest available hospital was in the centre of Leeds.  Driving myself into the business of the city from the outskirts was a bit of a novelty.

Until the March lockdown, I had enjoyed an active priestly life which involved ministry to an enclosed community of religious sisters, prison chaplaincy and some committee work but not parish involvement.  I live, therefore, in an independent flat. I am 74 years old and preparing for retirement in August. I am the owner of 2 arterial stents, 3 by-pass arteries and more recently a cardiac pacemaker.

As a vulnerable older person I was instructed to self-isolate in my home. It has made obvious sense for me to keep the rules. Other than daily exercise and the odd minor infraction, I have stayed at home, isolated from the general commerce of daily life. Even my shopping has been done by two very kind friends.

Thus a trip into Leeds was a novelty which at first felt quite daunting. However I soon got into the swing of it. Everything went well and it was the most straightforward outpatient appointment, I think I have ever had. It felt good to become again part of daily life with nurses, doctors and patients all moving about their business as if they were nothing too unusual happening in the world.

As I drove back I tuned in to radio 5L, as I have so often done in times past. And then suddenly, as if the clock had been turned back, I experienced a strange and powerful feeling of being young and energetic again. It quite startled me to realise that three months of isolation and constant news bulletins of sickness and death had imperceptibly given me a sense of having aged.

That revelatory experience has caused me to ponder and wonder what might be the connection between isolation and a sense of ageing.

One of the things I have struggled with during enforced separation from the world, is a sense of purpose. What is the meaning of life if one is all locked up and nowhere to go! What should I do with the day. Like everyone, in the beginning I busied myself with emptying an overflowing in-tray and answering overdue correspondence. But gradually when most of those loose ends were dealt with the question surfaced  – “what is it all about Alfie?” this life locked in doors.

Then the words of Jesus to St. Peter after the resurrection began to resonate.     “But when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will   put a belt around you and take you where you would rather not go. “

Though I am blessed with my faculties, both physical and mental, I seem somehow, during isolation, to have lost some independence. Now I must wait for the Government to tell me what is safe and what is not safe, what I can and what I mustn’t do. The belt feels to have been tied around me.

Seeing, each morning, the younger residents of the complex of flats where I live, setting off to gainful employment, seeing the key workers organising things in the supermarket car park opposite and watching the delivery men and the refuse collectors keeping the wheels of life turning, made me feel as though I do not quite belong to the world.  It has created a sense of separation with a resulting sense of unimportance!

It would appear that these three personal experiences of self-isolation have unwittingly left me feeling older.  It makes me wonder will I retire well, – a very pertinent question since my retirement may very well proceed my liberation from lockdown.

What I am very conscious of is that my admiration for the many housebound people older or younger, who manage to stay young at heart, has grown. It is to them I must turn for wisdom and guidance so that lockdown doesn’t rob me, prematurely of a youthful outlook.

Is there a better way to die?

This interesting article from the Guardian explores the subject of drawing up end-of-life wishes and how the virus may be changing our attitude to death.

Peter Hallgarten, who survived a serious case of coronavirus. He and his wife decided 10 years ago to put together their end-of-life wishes (living wills), including a DNR (do not resuscitate order).

The article sates: ‘…Suddenly, death is all around … Everyone knows someone who has been touched. As a result, people are not only having intimations of their own mortality; more of them are thinking about how they want to die; of what they want to avoid in the way of intervention and what they would hope for, too, given the choice. Interest in advance directives, the documents often referred to as living wills, has grown dramatically during the pandemic….’

For more information on end-of-life wishes and related issues, see the websites below:

Find out about ReSPECT, a process which creates a personalised recommendation for your clinical care in emergency situations
A Catholic website with many useful articles about the end of life.

Loss and Resilience in Older Age

How can we understand our reactions and responses to the current time?

This coronavirus pandemic is a strange, roller coaster time of ups and downs in our daily lives. We are very likely worried about others and ourselves, on alert, and at the same time want distraction and any good news stories. Maybe our routines and immediate plans are currently up in the air……

Yet we live in the same place with the same view out of the window and with the same community around us. How much of our daily lives have changed and for how long? This coronavirus pandemic will pass. We live in a country with a National Health Service that is free, staffed with skilled hard-working doctors, nurses, carers and other valued, dedicated staff. Staff and supplies are under pressure but we are perhaps relieved we live in the UK.  We will also be concerned about our sisters and brothers worldwide. We are told news every day. This is a mixture (currently in March) of worsening statistics, news stories of dedicated work by medical and local authorities, communities singing and exercising from balconies and lots of other creative ways to stay connected and fit, despite this new term “social distancing.” Some of us are rationing our intake of worrying news. We may also be hearing heart-warming stories and seeing cartoons that make us smile.

Life’s Ups and Downs

Many of us are feeling all kinds of emotions. Some remember previous national and personal hard times. We know from life experience that we have mostly weathered and come through loss of many kinds: family, health, money and work difficulties, ruptured relationships, uncertainties and unexpected challenges. We have also experienced many positive aspects in our lives, and more to come!

And… we have got through to where we are now. Some have had a lifetime of raising families, years of work, acquiring skills and knowledge, having periods of happiness and fulfilment and may on the whole be mostly satisfied about the small and large contributions we have made, and in some ways continue to make to others.

However, at present we may find our mood and outlook changes during the day so that we are experiencing ups and downs. I have just spoken to my 90 year old mother a hundred miles away. She spent the morning reading (in her view) a depressing newspaper article about future country finances and then sat in the sunshine in her garden enjoying the flowers. This morning I felt anxious listening to the news, but then listened to The Archers and went out for my daily walk and saw the daffodils, looking colourful and beautiful whatever is going on around them despite the earlier floods. They flower every year whatever is happening!

We may be worried about our families and friends. Are they well? Will they stay well? Will we manage to get our food and other requirements? Will those unable to work have enough money to manage, jobs to go back to and have time and space for their children to do some schoolwork, have some fun and ways of releasing their energy? Will teenagers and others facing external exams be supported through the next few months and through the next academic and life changes in their lives?

And how do we find peace and distraction when we need that? We have the wisdom and experience of older age to know how we cope in difficult times. Perhaps we pray more and find our religious belief helpful and then we can cry out in our own way: why is this happening to me and to them? Sometimes we doubt our religious faith. Do we have the resilience to cope with this uncertainty? How long will this last? Will we stay well?

I worked for many years supporting people through bereavement and loss, and to a limited extent I still do! You may wonder why I am mentioning loss. We may currently be fearing loss or bereavement or worry about change and having to live a different life for the moment. Our routines and networks are disrupted. We may be grieving for the freedom to go out and meet others or have visitors calling round. We wonder about people’s jobs, and anxieties about paying bills, rents and mortgages, Perhaps we have “lost” our peace of mind?

 A Loss, Change and Bereavement Model

One of the most useful, enduring bereavement and loss models, in my view, is from Stroebe and Schut that focuses on how we each individually may respond to loss, bereavement and change, including a changed perception of our current life and the world around us. You may be familiar with it. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t. After many years of offering it to people I have learnt a number of points:

  1. You are the person who knows best how you think and feel and you are the expert in that, even if at times it doesn’t seem like that. Others can try to empathise with how you think and feel. 
  2. There are two main types of responses we may find we are using, as follows:

a) FEELINGS – You may respond to loss, change and bereavement by feeling sad, panic, angry, guilty, disorientated and experience a number of emotions. You may be very aware of feelings and trying to work through your emotions of loss.

b) MANAGING & PLANNING – You may be someone who manages loss, bereavement and the perception of a changing world by trying to plan and manage it, allowing yourself to plan for the future, be distracted and sometimes even deny to yourself it is happening.

3.  Neither of these ways are either right or wrong – the way of feeling the emotions, or the way of planning a way through – they are both alright and are just how they are.

4. We are all different but you may encounter some difficulty if you get stuck  either with only feeling the feelings or only trying to cope and plan too much.

5. We usually learn to oscillate, move between, expressing emotion and working towards a future. So, a mixture of both a) feeling the feeling and b) managing the situation towards the future is needed, so this is not an “either/or” but a “both and” way of dealing with our lives. That is why it can seem like a roller coaster experience: up and down.

We all have our existing losses and now with Coronavirus we are dealing with the anxiety of the immediate future. This can compound the feeling of loss for us depending on the losses we are already experiencing.


An important point to offer is that those working with people who are experiencing the challenges and positives of everyday lives often use the word resilience. Here resilience isn’t defined as being brave and positive all the time. What is meant here, in my view, is that a resilient person is one that can hold the difficult and positive stuff together and continue in their lives.

We all have ups and downs but in older age we have usually realised that we have come through a lot of life and can hold what we have experienced from the good times and the challenging experiences at the same time. So we are usually quite resilient even when it doesn’t feel like it!

Let us keep supporting each other through this in whatever way we can. When this corona virus time comes to an end we can look back together and see how we came through!

Pippa Bonner March 2020

A GOOD DEATH – reflections from a former hospice chaplain, Revd Tom Lusty

Revd. Tom Lusty, LCI member and Vicar at St Giles, Bramhope reflects on ministry spent as a full-time hospice chaplain in the context of Covid-19.

Given the five years I spent inhabiting a hospice on a more or less daily basis I now know that death isn’t all that bad. It can sometimes be protracted and exhausting for all concerned. But even in such circumstances a good death is possible. With a good death there is a tangible sense of completeness, of dying with integrity.

To be honest I did not spend a great deal of time talking about death at the hospice beyond using euphemisms for it. For some of the nurses heaven was their euphemism of choice for death: “Gladys has gone to heaven now – God help them all up there”. I did speak, however, about my Christian faith when invited to do so, and the opportunities that came my way to speak about resurrection hope were considerable.

Within our tiny specialist world hospice chaplains have developed a repertoire of material that enables people to prepare spiritually for their own dying. Three resources that were and remain helpful to me are Mud and Stars, which gave me the theology, Tom Gordon’s A Need for Living which gave me the metaphors, and John O’Donohue’s Benedictus which gave me everything else: when there is nothing else you can do, you can always bless. That is a powerful thing to be left with – if you can bless sublimely, even better.

Dying is not about so much anguish and forsakenness. A good death is a movement towards integration – from “dislocation to relocation, from disorientation to re-orientation, from disintegration to re-integration” as Mud and Stars puts it. Part of a wider crucifixion/resurrection dynamic where we are always on the lookout for resurrection.

The cover photo of a book by Tom Gordon entitled New Journeys Now Begin depicts the access path to north beach on the Island of Iona. The inscription reads “No bikes beyond this point”. For each of us there will come a point where we have to relinquish the bike to go on the next stage of the journey. Getting off the bike can be painful because we get used to cycling everywhere. The more in life we can put the bike down and enjoy the view, the better prepared we will be for that moment in life when we will each have to “say goodbye to the bike”. As it were. This is a metaphor. A metaphor for resurrection.

As well as using metaphors a lot a group of hospice chaplains adopted a mnemonic as a helpful way into conversations about dying. The HEALER model goes like this:

H is for Hope – what takes people in a trajectory away from despair.

E is for Exploring Feelings – encouraging people to articulate their feelings.

A is for Adjustment to Loss – exploring how significant loss is transcended.

L is Looking Back – doing a life review: anything significant left unresolved?

The E and the R stand for Existential and Religious issues – some people are terrified of death for reasons that go beyond fear of the physical process of dying. I put that under ‘Existential’. Religion comes last of all. That is healthy because it says not all our needs are religious ones. We may choose to express our grounds for hope in religious terms but never exclusively so.

The HEALER mnemonic provides us with six different prompts as a helpful way into a conversation about dying. These prompts are not to be tackled exhaustively in chronological order (imagine how awful that would be) but rather as a means of focussing on some of the ways in which the conversation might go. 

Given that Easter this year coincides with the beginning of the six to eight week peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK using prompts from this mnemonic might be helpful during that time if we wanted to reflect on our own mortality. Devoting a little space to reflect on our own dying (say ten minutes, once a week) will certainly make us more open to engage with others who may be starting out on the process of the end of life’s journey.

When someone asks “what hymns are you having for your funeral?” a closed response “goodness, I have never thought of that” may not always be adequate. A more open-ended, personal response to the question might well allow the questioner to fulfil a need to talk openly about death.

In any Christian model of spiritual preparation for dying you can’t leave out the letting go …and the leaping. John O’Donohue describes the daily handing over of one’s life as the act of awakening and surrender. The possibility of this daily practising of such a hand over, however we may choose to do it, of our lives into the life of God may well be what makes us most Christ-like. 

Each morning we awaken to the light… each night we surrender to the dark… Awakening and surrender: they frame each day and each life; between them the journey where anything can happen.

John O’Donoghue, Anam Cara  

The HEAL(ER) mnemonic was devised by Revd Linda Elliott, at one time Chaplain at Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough. 

Books mentioned in this article:

Mud and Stars: The Report of a Working Party on the Impact of Hospice Experience on the Church’s Ministry of Healing

A Need for Living: Signposts on the Journey of Life and Beyond Tom Gordon and New Journeys Now Begin Tom Gordon

Benedictus: A Book of Blessings John O’Donohue 

Anam Cara John O’Donohue

Where are older people in the Christmas story?

4 advent candles

Recently Fr Diarmuid O’ Murchu spoke to many of us from around the country about imagining the Church of the future. One of the major themes he developed was that wise Elders (older people) are key, alongside younger people, to empower the Church of the future.We older people have a place in the Church. Our discernment, experience and gifts are still important to help build up our church communities. Sometimes we feel invisible and the stories of our lives unnoticed and unimportant.
This Christmas piece is offered as encouragement to think about the Christmas story again, believing that older people might be part of the story too! This exploratory way of looking at Scripture is encouraged by the Jesuit spiritual tradition as it can help us to imagine ourselves in the Gospel story and reflect on what we individually see, hear and think about.
We know that not everything that happened in the Gospels can possibly be included. The narratives were written by at least four people who heard accounts from numerous others, some of whom were eye witnesses and others who were not. The oral tradition of passing on events was very strong at the time.So: here are a few thoughts! If this does not help you to reflect on the Nativity narrative that is fine.You may have other ideas and that is one of the joys of being human – that we are all different.
We understand that Elizabeth, Mary’s relative and her husband Zachariah were older people when Elizabeth became pregnant. And I find the Visitation: this powerful encounter between two pregnant women wondering about the future, and their encouragement of each other is a beautiful early part of the story of the Birth of Jesus.
We know that Mary and Joseph were required to journey to Bethlehem for a compulsory census. The paintings of their journey traditionally depict them travelling alone. But isn’t it more likely that a journey on foot or by cart and donkey taking at least four days would have been done in a group, and probably an extended family group? Joseph at some point decided not to abandon the unexpectedly pregnant Mary. We do not know exactly when he fully reconciled with the situation, and decided to accept her and the baby. It is my hope that though family members might have been suspicious about this pregnancy, seeing them as a loving and patient couple on this arduous journey, they too saw the deep faith both had in God and each other. The accommodation available in Bethlehem was not ideal but I hope that some of the older women in the extended family would have supported Mary at the birth of Jesus and that family members would have helped Mary and Joseph then and subsequently. And what about Mary’s parents Anne and Joachim later in Nazareth?
And what of the shepherds? They were traditionally regarded as marginal members of society and the Angels appeared to them first! There would have likely been older shepherds training the younger ones among the group who went to see Jesus! I like to think that those locally in Bethlehem respected them more after that!
We know that the Magi were a different strata of society. They were wise, knowledgeable and wealthy, and likely to be older members of society as they had the knowledge and confidence to undertake a difficult, arduous journey and take gifts to Jesus. Again, they are traditionally depicted as three men, but there may have been younger disciples, and perhaps some women, alongside their servants in their travelling group. They were from other countries and beliefs, (and in a different way outsiders), but the Nativity story is one of the coming together of different, unexpected, diverse groups to witness Christ’s birth.
We understand Jesus was presented in the Temple forty days after birth. Simeon and Anna are both older people waiting for the Messiah. They pick out Jesus, Mary and Joseph from what was likely a queue amidst a lot of other busy, noisy Temple activities. Simeon’s words of recognition and blessing and Anna’s prophecy and thanks are a powerful and prophetic part of the Nativity narrative from older people.
The timings of the arrival of the Magi, the subsequent flight of the Holy Family to escape the massacre of baby boys, and then their return to Nazareth are unclear. But there are a lot of the parts of the story that we do not know about! But it seems to me there will have been many people who formed part of that story to support the Family in those early years that we do not know about, and it is very likely some of those were older people – like us….

Food: is it Important in our Memories of Family and Parish?

On my way back from a recent Growing Old Gracefully related meeting I serendipitously listened to a Radio 4 Food programme called: “What’s so Special about the Food our Grandmothers Cook?” It recounted some of the tasty and not so tasty meals grandchildren had experienced from grandmothers. The programme reflected the diversity of food: Italian grandmothers cooking fresh pasta every day and a Colombian elder talking about a traditional soup learned from another older woman many years ago. These were both traditional recipes that these women were passing on to others.

It got me thinking: What are our traditional recipes? And do those of us grandparents pass on recipes to future generations? In my family it is more likely grandfathers passing on recipes as my children (now adult) remember the food their grandfather cooked when we went to stay. He was the main cook and his roasts, lasagne, shepherd’s pie and trifles were enjoyed by all of us!

We are a multicultural society and many of us now eat a range of international foods. In our family we may eat a traditional “roast and two veg.” and apple crumble. We also love curry, tandoori, jerk chicken, pasta and pizza. Some of the family are vegan. I was born in Scotland and the next generation of my own family are of Indian, African, Colombian, as well as English and Scottish origin and those cuisines are now part of our family tradition. One of my daughter’s in law wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t mention her Cornish background. My Yorkshire son–in-law’s signature dish is a seafood paella. He and my sons and daughter are all good cooks.

This programme was about the nurturing influence of grandmothers through their cooking. I only had one grandparent living when I was born and when I was a child she was a widow living with an aunt. Meals were very formal and as young children when we went to stay, (we lived in Scotland and she was in Kent), we were discouraged by my great great aunt from talking at meals unless spoken to. I slept in a little bed in Granny’s room and my favourite time was during her late night cup of tea I would wake up and be offered a biscuit and travel sweet from a tin. Luxury! And this was my talking time with Granny. So it was not her cooking I recalled, ( which apparently was limited, as is mine) but those sweets, and the other treats like going daily to a cafe for lemonade and a cake. With my own limited culinary talent it is more likely the trips out to eat that my grandchildren may remember: pizza and icecreams! It became a tradition while our cheap, local, much loved French Bistro was open that we took our sons,daughters and grandchildren out for supper on Christmas Eve. And in January I take them to the local pantomime with bags of sweets and ice creams.This has become part of our tradition.

I know of one grandmother who has extended family round once a week for an evening meal. I am full of admiration. Her husband with dementia is now in a care home and she goes every evening to feed him his evening meal. Food has always played an important social part in their lives.

Food in parishes is important. The Eucharist is the centre of Catholic life. Food in the parish hall is another important way parishioners meet each other and preserve and build on parish relationships. In our parish tea and coffee after Sunday Mass is attended by 30 or 40 parishioners regularly. It is (hopefully) a welcoming place for new parishioners and a social occasion for all ages keeping in touch with each other in the parish, particularly important as we no longer have our own parish priest and share with a larger neighbouring parish. Our parish hold an annual Seder (Passover) Meal. Every year large numbers of people from our and other churches meet to celebrate the Passover Meal, eating the traditional foods and drink of our Jewish sisters and brothers after we listen to the Readings they use about the Passover from the Old Teastament. At Pentecost we have a tradition of sharing food after Mass: traditional recipes from the countries from which our diverse congregation originally come. We have Indian samosas and sweets, Sri Lankan fishcakes, Portuguese soup, French quiche, Italian and Polish cake, English scones and many other dishes: a wonderful communal way to celebrate our diversity at Pentecost.

So, food is important in families and parishes: culinary traditions whether they are home cooked, trips to cafes and restaurants, or family trips to pantomimes or other foody treats. Parish meals and weekly cups of tea and biscuits in the parish hall are also key in forming and nourishing the life of parish communities.

I enjoyed the Radio 4 programme but I have to confess I didn’t hear it all…I was too busy reminiscing on what was special about the food experiences in my own family and parish. What are your family and food traditions?

Supporter Thelma Laycock shares her poetry

Thelma Laycock lives in Leeds and has been a supporter of Growing Old Gracefully since it began.
Although she has always written poetry, since retiring from teaching it has become one of the most important aspects of her life.

She has published 4 anthologies of poetry and has had work in various magazines and anthologies. Some poems have been translated into Hebrew, Italian and Romanian.
During the 1990s she worked as a volunteer on Indian Reservations in South Dakota and Arizona. The poem Sun Dance at Rosebud draws on that experience

Entering San Francisco 2010

Singing we cross the red bridge,
seeing the Bay stretched out before us
unusually clear and beautiful,
(yet Alcatraz blinks its star of death);
under an old enchantment
paunchy men with pony-tails
and white-haired women dance,
I outdance them all,
no pain in my knees now,
scattering flowers from my hair.

Shadow on the grass

My mother’s shadow wakes me
from chasing words and reverie
her head and shoulders exactly,
starting to move into her old age,
my mother’s shadow wakes me
from chasing words and reverie
not my mother’s shadow but me.

Sun Dance at Rosebud
(for the Indian children)

I missed the Sun Dance –
not given the invitation
and let down by acquaintances,
I missed it.
For me no eagle flew in
low over the hills to bless the dance.
I saw no warriors with long black hair
nor girls in white buckskin dresses;
no dance circle nor piercing at the sacred tree.
Yet my days were blessed;
for though my skin is very white
and my hair as blonde as Custer’s,
you loved me.
I had my own piercing that summer
as I left you playing,
dancing in the sun.