Aunt Alice in Arabia – Old Friends

May 31, 1990

My oldest friend, Bill Hunt,  was 75 when I met him, and he died when he was 82.  He was a famous psychologist, listed in Who’s Who and honored by the American Psychological Association for his overall contribution to the field of psychology.  He was so well-known that his divorce was reported in The New York Times. As well as his death, of which a sister informed me.

In college, I thought anyone who punctuated a story with, “More than ten years ago….”  was old.

Non-family old or older people were exotic.  They knew more about life because they  had lived more. They had made mistakes I incessantly and cruelly asked about, and in specific, intimate detail so I could learn from their mistakes.

Older people possessed a world-weariness based on that ONE barrier that stood between me as a young person and the “real world” which everyone kept harping about:  experience.

My present oldest friends are only about 60, but they live in America.  Recently I briefly met a man who was in his 70’s.  I wanted to be friends but I’m shy, so….

I was a voracious reader before college anthropology, sociology and psychology courses.  In college, just as geriatrics was becoming a recognized health field,  I proposed that college dormitories should be integrated with old people’s residences.  I theorized that the young learned from the old, but America had destroyed that universal and cultural learning experience with television.

My more conspiracy-oriented thinking thought the powers that be had purposely disrupted this vital relationship to keep the young uninformed and thus much more easily manipulated.

Not all societies discard the vast learning reservoirs of their older members and now that the Baby Boom in America is ageing, it’s all right that I’m not 25 forever.  I still learn from older people: books, movies, plays, fellow travellers.  But I miss the unique friendship of a much older person whose company I can feel enlargened in by their time and experience. I miss the extended vision of cause-and-effect, the calming influence of a different youthed era, the quiet acceptance of life and the demands of the world vs. the demands of one’s own heart.

I miss Bill Hunt a lot.