By Beth Clark • August 21, 2018
On August 19, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5847, in which he wrote: "For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older—places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity."
We literally wouldn't be here without them, so take some time out of your day to support and honor the seniors in your world, let them know they're loved, and listen to their stories...even if you've heard them a hundred times before. It's also a good day to explore volunteering at an assisted living or nursing home and bring a smile to those who don't get many (or any) visitors.
P.S. If you're a senior, don't be shy about asking for those discounts or help if you need it!
Doerr spent her first forty years in California, then moved to Mexico, where her husband Albert was restoring a family copper mine. Following Albert's death in 1972, Doerr returned to California in her sixties, where she finished her education at the teasing of her son and began writing. Her National Book Award-winning first novel, Stones for Ibarra, was published when she was 73! She went on to write two more novels, Consider This, Señora and The Tiger in the Grass: Stories and Other Inventions, and lived to be 92.
McCourt's story of his impoverished childhood in Ireland and adulthood teaching in New York attracted global attention when Angela's Ashes was published in 1996, especially when it won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. It was published when McCourt was 66 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Boeke Prize in addition to the Pulitzer.
Saramago worked as a car mechanic, translator, and a journalist who published a few pieces of literature earlier in his life, but his work didn't receive international acclaim until Memorial do Convento, his fourth novel, was published when Saramago was 60. It was then translated to Baltasar and Blimunda and won the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Stoker's day job was working as a civil servant at Dublin Castle, so for years, writing was a side gig consisting of local newspaper theater reviews (done for free) and a few minor works. His first novel, The Primrose Path, was published after he left his civil position to help run London's Lyceum Theatre, which he was doing successfully when Dracula was published the year he turned 50. By the time he died at 65, he'd written twelve novels.
Wesley wrote three children's books in her fifties, but her first adult novel was published when she was 71. The following year, The Camomile Lawn was published (and made into a TV series in 1992). She kept writing until she was 84 and published ten bestselling novels in the last two decades of her life.
Wilder was inspired by her daughter, Rose, to begin writing in her forties, but Little House in the Big Woods wasn't published until 1932–two decades later–when she was 65 years old. And that was book #1 in a series of nine...she was 76 when the final one was finished. Given that they were based on her own real-life adventures, her age enhanced the stories even further!
And that is just one example of the myriad of ways seniors make the world better, so happy #NationalSeniorCitizensDay and #HappyReading!