Sara Rubin here, reflecting on the role of elders in my life. I’ve taken to heart the mixture of humor and wisdom, self-awareness but not too much self-seriousness, that has served them well, especially during the unprecedented year we’ve just had.
Even in this time of isolation and loss and grief, a lot of seniors have forged ahead. They’ve adapted, and found ways to celebrate milestones with outdoor or pared-down 100th birthday parties, or used technology to stay connected to loved ones. And for some seniors who are engaged in vigorous and active living, the pandemic has been just a blip—or even a call to action.
With Monterey County’s Area Agency on Aging, we at the Weekly publish an annual Senior Resource Guide, a bilingual glossy magazine that lists resources for seniors (a list compiled by AAA) and also features stories of some of those active and engaged seniors, reported and written by our editorial team. And they’re inspiring stories of inspiring people, in the guide that was published last week.
There’s Maria Dolores Ramirez, a 72-year-old who found a whole new way to change the world as an activist via Lideres Campesinas, Inc., and most recently been sharing information about Covid-19 vaccination clinics. There’s 73-year-old Dick Crispo, an artist and mentor to younger artists who has found (and continues to find) art in everything he does. There’s Sonja Jackson who, despite blindness, gives back by serving on a nonprofit board.
And there’s Steve Webster, 82, a cofounder of the Monterey Bay Aquarium who has never outgrown his passion for the ocean and its creatures, and who might be at this very moment on a scuba diving trip in Baja. (OK, as he’s aged he’s made accommodations—as he told staff writer Christopher Neely, he’s now doing just one dive a day, not five, on his repeat Baja trips.)
There are more stories of inspiring (and quirky) elders to be found in the print edition of this week’s Weekly, like the tale of Peter Krasa who, no matter how old you are, will make you feel like a lazy bum. Tajha Chappelet-Lanier wrote about the 76-year-old who has been running every day for 23—count ’em, twenty-three—years.
The Sally Griffin Knitters were once called The Whatevers, but the knitting/crocheting group has anything but a “whatever” philosophy, as reported by Marielle Argueza. She wrote about the group’s creative effort to make handmade goods—and then give them away. And Mary Duan wrote about Langston Johnson, a 72-year-old who has a lot of perspective to share, including as a Black man who’s been waiting for a moment of reckoning like Black Lives Matter—but who also has cultivated a passion for the arts, including as a surf photographer and a vocalist with Camerata Singers.
Johnson offered up a forward-looking philosophy that I think can help us all, no matter what age we are: “Rather than continually reviewing bad stuff, I look at the positives.”
To find a hard copy of the Senior Resource Guide, call (831) 883-7565; you can also read the digital edition on our website. And consider starting training now for your marathon or scuba adventure or who knows what, at whatever age you feel like doing it.