Watching the Pixar film UP a few weeks ago it occurred to me how rarely modern culture has regard to the elderly, except in really one dimensional (grumpy, complaining, super fit) ways.
This is particularly so with women. And yet in our families, if we are lucky enough to still have grandmothers or great aunts or elderly mothers, they are so central to our lives.
So here are 3 elderly ladies who inspire me:
Sheila Scotter. Former editor in chief of Vogue Australia.
Notable characteristic - only ever wears black and white. Lives on her own at 88. Carries off a headband with aplomb.
She said: anyone can buy fashion but you can't buy style.
Dame Zara Bate (died in June 1989 at the age of 80)
Notable characteristic - stoicism in the face of the drowning death of her husband, the Prime Minister of Australia, in 1967. Getting on with her life after said drowning, including remarrying and always being wonderfully matter of fact in her appraisal of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
She said: on redecorating the Lodge, the Prime Minister's residence in Canberra, that she painted the walls of one of the bedrooms a bright Schiaparelli pink, with a glazed white ceiling.
Dame Roma Mitchell (died in March 2000 at the age of 87)
Notable achievements: almost too many to mention including being the first Australian female judge, Queens Counsel and governor of an Australian State (South Australia).
She said: she never believed 'that women have a monopoly over certain qualities and that men have the monopoly of other qualities'
At the request of the lovely Jane in Spain, here is my little ghost story.
The beginning: we know from the title search of our house that a lady lived in it for more than 30 years and that she was elderly when she died.
The middle: when I was about 38 weeks pregnant, my husband woke to find an elderly lady standing at my bedside, looking down over me in a protective, non scary way. He went back to sleep thinking he had just been a participant in one of those very realistic dreams.
The end: the very next day we decided to walk around the corner to the cafe for coffee. I opened the gate first but instead of walking into the street full tilt in my usual manner, something made me hesitate. That hesitation meant that I was missed, by just a nano second, by a cyclist who was riding down the hill at high speed on the footpath very very close to the gate side of the path. And yes those handle bars were certainly at pregnancy bump height.
I am not sure I believe in ghosts. But perhaps I do believe in guardian angels.
(Images: (1) The Sartorialist (2) National Archives of Australia (3) Mitchell Chambers.com.au)