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In celebrating myself this morning I’m asking you to ask all your readers and by extension all the readers of publications throughout the world; the media, the consumers of media beginning with yours—help me celebrate. It’s a very personal celebration. May I share it with you?
I was in my bathroom washing my back up to my shoulders with my arms bent. I was soaping my back and celebrating the fact that at eighty-three I can still do that. Sometimes looking into my mirror, celebrating myself and reflecting on the poet’s words, I say—wow, you are proving, Joan Cambridge, (if we’re to believe conventional wisdom’s definition of things) that like knowledge, beauty comes and goes. I’m comforted by the poet’s conclusion that “wisdom lingers.”
Another poet said: “A beauty too of twisted trees / The harsh insistence of the wind / Writes lines of loveliness within.” Can we too see beauty in the lines on our faces as we grow older and thus come to love ourselves just the way we are; not try to look twenty or thirty or forty years younger? Can we—all of us—and I’m speaking now not only but especially to women, can we accept who we are—love ourselves? Can we do this and see if we could gain some respect from the rest of the world? And I’m not just talking about old or aging women, I’m speaking about all elderly people. However, as a woman I’m particularly affronted by the total disrespect dispensed to senior citizens in Guyana.
There must somewhere be a photograph (or I will ask someone to take one) that shows what’s happening at those distribution centers where our government is distributing crumbs from the ExxonMobil Guyana table—their bountiful table. They’re doling out crumbs and serving it up as
though loaves of plentifulness. What is going on? US$105? Or US$100.50? Or whatever it is— that’s what old people are getting—with all the great fanfare from the government—and extreme punishment for the aged. I stood in my shoes and wondered when I looked at what was going on at the distribution center at the Redeemer Church, which is the center in my area, and not a word . . . not a murmur from those old people, as they meekly waited.
In many precolonial African and Asian cosmologies elders are most closely related to infants and children—what I now call my second childhood. To disrespect elders is to disrespect the genesis of life and all that is divine about its regeneration.
Dear Editor, with your help, I will speak out and let the world know what is happening to senior citizens like me in Guyana.
aka Bassidy Dolly, Guyana Rainforest Bag-Lady
“Age is more than a chronological fact” –Kamala Harris, December 2023
“May my inner head not spoil the outer one” –Yoruba Prayer
“O how I long to place my foot / on the head of anthropology to swing my breasts / in the face of history
to scrub my back / with the dogma of theology” —Grace Nichols “The power of the mothers is equal or superior to that of the gods”