Tag Archive: elderly


In Hollywood, especially for women, there aren’t all many roles as actors age.  After being relegated to playing the part of the mother or father, there are few roles for grandmothers and grandfathers, and the role of grandparents is generally relegated to minor characters.  Male actors have more options than their female counterparts, but even so, there aren’t all that many roles available. 

No one seems particularly interested in what older characters can teach us.  It’s emblematic of the way we treat the elderly in our society.  Other cultures revere their elders, but we just shove them into nursing homes, to be forgotten rather than honored.

That’s what makes the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel all that special.  Starring amazing actors like Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and their male counterparts, including Tom Wilkinson, the story proves the point that it’s okay to want more out of your life, even if you’re in your golden years.  Rather than expecting less and less, the characters plunge into a foreign culture in Jaipur, India, enlarging their experience of their lives.  They might very well have said, “My life matters, if only to me!”

I’m reminded of a quote by Emile Zola:  “If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you:  I came to live out loud.”  Like other films such as Short Cuts, Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows each of its seven main characters in separate vignettes, but shows its protagonists coming together at the airport, intertwining their stories into one cohesive tale.

An interesting subplot follows Maggie Smith’s character Muriel who worked for many years as a housekeeper, but managed to stay isolated in her own, exclusively Caucasian world, and she is more than willing to reveal her extremely prejudiced viewpoints to anyone who will listen.  She has travelled to India for a cheaper hip replacement, and she is forced into interactions with Indians, and this rubs up against her xenophobia.  The story proves that prejudice, even firmly entrenched prejudice, can be overcome.  And life turns out to be about connectedness, not disconnectedness.  Rather than simply passing time until they die, the characters seek to enrich their lives.  It’s a great story, well worth telling, and well worth going to see.  Allow The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to transport you to another culture. 

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Death Is Overrated

A 100 year old named Fauja Singh completed his eighth marathon and walked his way into the record books.  He first ran a marathon at 89, and hasn’t stopped since.  Perhaps he feels death is overrated, and he doesn’t want to use his age as a reason to stop running.  He carried a torch in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and hopes to be part of the torch relay for the 2012 London Games.

Is it really all a kind of mind over matter?  Allegedly, Moses lived to be over 600 so Fauja Singh may be headed for a different kind of record.  In the modern era, the oldest living person was French woman Jeanne Calment who lived to be 122 years, 164 days.  There’s even a name for anyone over 110 years:  supercentenarians.  Must be a reason for believing that everything in moderation is the way to live. 

My grandmother lived to be 99, so I’m hoping the rest of my family is similarly blessed.  As long as I am able to reason and steer clear of dementia, I’m game for living as long as possible.  I think the thing I will miss most about life on earth is the simple pleasure of reading.  With any luck there are libraries in heaven.  I’m pretty sure that there won’t be treadmills in the hereafter so I’ll just have to take care of my body and well-being as long as I’m graced to live, much like the 100 year old marathoner Fauja Singh.

My mother’s cousin once had an brain aneurism, and when doctors told her, “We don’t know why you’re still alive,” she responded that she “had things to do.”  Remind me to keep the same motto, and always have “things to do.”