The Secret Life of the Very Old: A View from the Summit (Paperback)
Much has been written on the topic of aging but little from the point of view of the very old. Gemma d'Auria penned this book when she was well into her eighties, looking back on life and the lessons learned from it. The things that most puzzled her are the attitudes towards aging and the nouns and adjectives applied to the very old that do not reflect her feelings. This book is a retrospective of an octogenarian, when a map of paths taken and missed is visible for examination.
Gemma lived a life close to nature, observing and learning from the phases of life of a tree, a pet, a river, a child. Life on earth is a school and Nature its greatest teacher. The smooth stones in the brook, the injured bird in the cage, the luxated dog, the withering leaf, all promote our studies to the next level in the school of life, toward the graduating class, when Existence, the physical body, separates from Being, the essence of all Existence. As we go through our lives, we are not conscious of being in school. We have goals to reach, expectations to meet, responsibilities to govern. We succeed and fail; we get rewarded and punished. What does it all mean?
From the view of the summit of her years, she looked for answers. Pythagoras, six centuries before Christ, did not call himself a "wise man" but a "lover of wisdom." In the same spirit, Gemma searched for wisdom in the world around her.
We are seniors, but not senile. Our stress-free bodies are fit; we enjoy the company of our grown children and grandchildren, and they enjoy us. Then our bodies, the capsules that hold our Being, wither like forgotten bouquets. We have become a heavy charge to our dear ones. This is our time for introspection when we review our lessons in life. What have we learned that we can pass on to those we leave behind? We move inward to the secret citadel of our Being, the still center where Existence and Being dwell and expand our field of consciousness. Our thoughts dart from one subject to another like a bird hopping from branch to branch. They settle upon the word "love."
We have graduated from the School of Life and are ready for the final examination. It will not be long before we start on our journey to the Great University for our higher studies.
Antonia Burgato found the Secret Life of the Very Old among the many writings entrusted to her upon Gemma's death, and she will never look at aging in the same way.
Read this book from beginning to end or skip around the chapters to learn from the school of life and prepare yourself for the Great University in the beyond.