Cover image for Shedding years : growing older, feeling younger
Shedding years : growing older, feeling younger
Greene, Phyllis.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Villard, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiv, 159 pages ; 19 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ1064.U5 G693 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The author of It Must Have Been Moonglow presents a collection of reflections, both humorous and poignant, on the challenges and joys of the senior years.

Author Notes

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College. She is the mother of Bob Greene, the syndicated columnist and author: D. G. Fulford, an author and journalist; and Tim Greene, a real estate executive. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this follow-up to her well-received memoir on widowhood (It Must Have Been Moonglow), octogenarian Greene explains how she's "gotten younger" since the publication of her first book. She "shed [years] in the writing" and on book tour; her computer, she says, is the "fountain of youth." But shedding years comes from other things too-from learning to accept unwelcome changes "gracefully"; "seek[ing] our own best solution"; and not worrying too much-and it is these lessons that she so earnestly tries to explain. Greene is at her best when recollecting significant moments in her past-the ladies' luncheon groups called the Jingles and the Meanies, for example, or the family adventures with household (and even body) maintenance. Unfortunately, many of her brief chapters alight on such diverse (and mundane) topics as Greene's difficulties with modern telecommunications (she has trouble answering her cell phone), the contents of her household bulletin board (photos, favorite quotes and cartoons) and the frustrations of tamperproof packaging. Greene often charms and sometimes enlightens, but with so many quick scattered vignettes, her book feels muddled and inconsistent. (Feb. 18) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Shedding Years The President of the United States has asked me to get on with the business of living. It is something I have been asking of myself as well; so, at least, we are in political agreement on that score. I am, ideologically, so far to his left that I am not even in the same room with him; but I am, indeed, in the same country. I have been with him since the World Trade Center disaster, and I salute him. So often we have heard members of the clergy say, ". . . and pray for our president," and I have not even really heard the words. On the six-month anniversary of that terrible day of 9/11, as I was falling asleep, I thought of the tremendous burden that is with George W. Bush daily, hourly, every minute--the responsibility for all of us in this world of turmoil--and I did pray for him, in a very personal way. With a long history of being a cooperative person, I want to do as the president asks. It's the "getting on" part that I am still unsure about. Since publishing It Must Have Been Moonglow, however, I have received some remarkable advice from readers whose courage, stamina, and empathy have pointed me in the direction of another book. What their correspondence has done for me has helped me shed years. I am younger at eighty-two than I was at eighty. If putting my life on paper and making friends in the process is rejuvenating, then I see a large investment in ink-jet printer refills, and much to write before I sleep. One evening at a dinner table, I heard about a woman who, at age sixty-five, decided that she was simply going to stop counting birthdays ahead and would count them backward. Thus, when she turned sixty-six she chose, instead, to be sixty-four. She started back down. She kept this up for a number of years, calculating her age in her own unique way, not only to her friends and acquaintances, but to the bureau of motor vehicles. With each change of age, she changed her hair color, too. How long this went on, how well she got away with it--whether it is a slightly exaggerated story--I am not sure. But it shows a pretty good attitude. For some reason, I remember being forty-two as the best age to be. When I stop to examine why that is the year I choose, it must be that my children were fourteen, twelve, and eight; I was no longer wrapped up in domestic dailiness and could find a place for myself in the greater community; my husband knew where he was in his career and where he was going; life's problems were present, but they were solvable. So now that I am eighty-two, and if the counting-back theory from sixty-five can work, I'll be ninety-seven when I turn forty-two. There are worse goals to have. I had an aunt who was so full of love that it spilled out of her--to old friends everywhere, to friends she had just met, to relatives with whom she corresponded voluminously, and, most especially, to her sister's firstborn: me. And to my children. She remembered each and every birthday by telling each child, whatever birthday it was, that they had reached the best age that anyone could be: two, ten, fifteen, thirty. Just reach that year and it will be a wonderful year. When I turned eighty, I missed her especially. Would she think that was the best year? "Yes," I can tell her. "Yes, in many ways." I feel liberated to be at a point in my life when I know I am beyond changing what has been. For good or bad, I have done what I have done, have chosen whatever I chose, have lived how I have lived. (Of course, I still have to do my best until 2016, when I celebrate that forty-second birthday!) That is a freeing feeling. We do not have to dwell on the past. It is too late for "what ifs." We can be thankful for who we have become, whoever we are; know that we have made the journey the best way we knew how; forget the stumbles; and continue to turn the wheel of our life. Loneliness Is Not Just for Widows Anymore In the general miasma of sadness that lies over the country, loneliness is not confined only to widows and widowers; and yet, to each widow or widower there is a specific trigger that evokes a special sadness, as I have learned from the readers of It Must Have Been Moonglow. In the months after the book appeared, hundreds of poignant e-mails and snail mails arrived. On so many days, I wept as I read of courageous caretaking, of utter and abject despair, of a desire to cope so as not to burden the children, of struggles to find grief relief. Every person who wrote seemed to find some small comfort in knowing that there are so many of us on this journey together. What I heard most often was that we were GeorgeandLouise or JackandMolly or BillandMary. There must be many American Bobs; I heard from JoanandBob and MarthaandBob and EricaandBob. A lot of widows were missing their Bobs; maybe they felt particularly compelled to write me because they knew how much I was missing mine. The most frequent comment was, "You made me feel so normal." Or variations: "You must have been living in my house" or "living in my mind"; or "wow, it sounds like my life" and "I could almost write a similar book. It would be titled Stardust." I'm glad they didn't: these correspondents are so articulate and eloquent that they could well have been published before I even thought about making a book from my journal maunderings! Excerpted from Shedding Years: Growing Older, Feeling Younger by Phyllis Greene All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.