We often hear of the beauties of old age, but the only old age that is beautiful is the one the man has been long preparing for by living a beautiful life. Every one of us is right now preparing for old age. … There may be a substitute somewhere in the world for Good Nature, but I do not know where it can be found. The secret of salvation is this: keep sweet, be useful, and keep busy.
Even very recently, the elders could say [to the youths]: "You know, I have been young and you never have been old." But today's young people can reply: "You never have been young in the world I am young in, and you never can be." . . . This break between generations is wholly new: it is planetary and universal.
I used to say, watching two elderly women crossing the street in flowered hats, holding each other's arms, "Look at those cute old ladies." I didn't mind the stereotypes that pepper movies and television shows. Now old people are no longer cute or mean or silly or wise to me. They are people, in all their broken fullness. Despite the glitches in faculties and functioning, anyone who's lived that long has learned something the rest of us don't know.