The Land of the Very Old

The Land of the Very Old is growing closer for Gary but he’s not at the border yet! He filed the following report about an article he recommends about traveling to that not-too-distant land.

A couple of months ago, a friend sent me a link to an article titled In the Land of the Very Old ( My first thought was—huh? What does this have to do with me? I’m not “very old”, just “old”. At the time, Bee and I were on our infamous road trip to Florida, so I put it aside for reading later. I finally picked it up again a few weeks ago and discovered a great story. In this article, the author, 90-year-old Sam Toperoff, looks back on his journey from the “Old Country” (where I still reside) to the “Land of the Very Old”. It’s a sprawling piece that touches on many aspects of aging.

Toperoff opens the narrative by describing a scene he is watching while waiting for his 84-year-old wife. He observes a steady flow of older people slowly and carefully descending a flight of stairs outside a doctor’s office. He has an epiphany—he realizes he’s in the Land of the Very Old. In this article, the author takes us through aspects of his aging journey. At one point, he touches on the idea of a newspaper-like “corrections column” for your life.

I was quite taken by the idea of looking back on your life and identifying “corrections”. It’s much better than wallowing in regrets which can seldom be resolved. In the last year or so, I have found myself looking back occasionally trying to understand why I made certain decisions or the way I behaved in some situations. I’m almost always able to let any regrets go, but I do find the mere act of exploring gives me some insights into my current behavior. And guess what? I’ve discovered old dogs can learn new tricks and I’m embracing my “corrections”.

The Land of the Very Old is Approaching

More than anything else, this article was a reminder that, like it or not, I’m approaching the border of the Land of the Very Old. I haven’t reached it yet, but the “diminishing” that Toperoff describes as a sign of passage into this new land is more noticeable than just a few years ago. I’m resisting the diminishing, but I can’t stop it.

“In the Land of the Very Old” is a long read but, in my opinion, worth the time and effort. If you’re still in the land of the middle-aged or younger, it may not resonate at all. For those of us living in the “old country”, on the border of the Land of the Very Old, the article strikes a chord. I encourage you to read Toperoff’s closing paragraphs because it does give the “old” reader hope that residing in the land of the “very old” can be a good thing. It surely beats the alternative.

By the way, the striking image tied to this article was taken from Sam’s house in the French Alps. The story about how three generations of his family decided to move from the U.S. to France when he was 80 years old adds a nice dimension to his story.

in the land of the very old
Sam Toperoff in the Land of the Very Old
(Photo by Sam Toperoff)
in the land of the very old
Three Generations of the Toperoff Family
(Photo by Sam Toperoff)

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4 comments on “The Land of the Very Old

  1. Sheri Knutson says:

    Hi Gary,
    Good to hear your voice! This subject interests me because I will be 80 years old in several weeks! And I’m suddenly realizing that I’m now in the Land of the Very Old!!! It seems to have come about very quickly!!!!! I ask myself, “How did this happen?!” 🤗 🤨
    Love to you and Bee,

    1. elizabeth zollo says:

      Sheri, say it ain’t so!! Have a great bd. I also loved this article and Gary’s review.

    2. Gary Ebersole says:

      We’re all approaching the border. The good news is in Toperoff’s closing paragraphs where he says his last ten years were his best ten years. This year seems to be the year of ’80’. You must be third of fourth of our friends who is reaching 80 this year. Oy vey!

  2. Judy henry says:

    Good Codger episode. I really loved the essay referred to, and glad Gary decided to send it out and about!

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