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Alive, and Enjoying Being an Elder

The elders’ workshop led by Pam Geyer, the International Liberation Reference Person for Elders, last June in New Hampshire, USA, was thought provoking and exciting. The themes of ending racism, building allies, health, and fear of death and dying brought much discharge. My support group of five African-heritage women was awesome.

I led a topic group on “mental health” liberation for everyone. Twelve people were in the group, including three ex-inmates.

“Counsel the leader” was not announced until after most people had gone to bed. I knocked on doors to let people know it was happening, and I was so happy when all the People of the Global Majority were there, right in the front row.

On Sunday morning, we five African-heritage women led a short tribute to Muhammed Ali.

Role-playing elder oppression was great fun.

MY EXPERIENCE AS AN ELDER

I am a Black woman almost seventy years of age. I have been here longer than a lot of people. I know many things and have had many experiences that younger people have not yet learned or had. The best thing about being an elder is that I am alive.

It has been extremely difficult fighting the many forms of oppression I have encountered and standing up for my children and myself. I continue to stand up, and I care less now than I used to about what may happen.

I have survived “mental illness” as well as cancer in both my breasts. I was given Thorazine and Haldol when I was in the “mental hospital.” The combination of drugs put me in a catatonic state, the closest thing to being dead without actually dying. I was given a powerful anesthetic each time I had surgery to remove cancer. I remember nothing about the surgeries. (I chose not to have chemotherapy or radiation.) I am also diabetic. I am hopeful about new technologies that may prolong life indefinitely. I may be in that first group of people who live to a hundred and fifty and beyond!

I am the matriarch of my family and am connected to many younger people who are friends of my children and grandchildren. I have built a large network of support among younger people, both in RC and in the wide world. I recently assisted in an RC fundamentals class led by a young adult. We met as two human beings, not as an older and a younger person. We totally loved and respected each other.

I also lead our family meeting of six sisters and one brother. We have been meeting for twelve years and are now all elders. At our most recent meeting, we spent time on our health issues and discussed end-of-life planning.

I am hopeful about life and enjoy being an elder.

Delores Jean Britt

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of elders

(Present Time 186, January 2017)


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00