A Travel Guide to Old Age

“Ask an Old Person Anything” event to feature two seasoned creative spirits

On January 24, Cheryl Davis (70) and Carol Roan (85) will talk about their adventurous trips into aging at an “Ask an Old Person Anything” event at Scuppernong Books in downtown Greensboro.

Neither of these women could have imagined ten years ago where they’d be today. When they meet for lunch or coffee, their conversations usually end with an unbelieving headshake and the comment, “Life’s a trip, isn’t it?”

After Cheryl retired as a therapist at The Children’s Home, she went looking for something that was missing … that wanted out. “I knew there was more inside me,” she said. “I just didn’t know what it was.” She tried poetry, joined a critique group, served on the board of Winston-Salem Writers. Then she took a painting class at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art. That was what she’d been looking for. Her teacher told her to go home and paint and within two years, her work was hanging in juried art shows.

Carol had avoided writing ever since her beloved seventh-grade English teacher accused her of lying. “You couldn’t have written that poem,” her teacher said, in front of the entire class. “Where did you copy it from?” But since moving to Winston-Salem eight years ago, eight of her short stories have appeared in literary journals, and she’s had two books published by independent presses. One of those books is an anthology, When Last on the Mountain: The View from Writers over 50, which she co-edited, reading over 2,000 submissions from all over the world.

Cheryl will have some of her paintings on display at Scuppernong Books during January. At the event on January 24, they’ll also have books available that were written long after their authors had reached retirement age. Smith Hagaman wrote his first adventure novel, Off the Chart, when he was 86. Janet Joyner won an award for her first book of poetry when she was in her 80’s. After retiring from a career in finance, Feodor Pitcairn became an underwater cinematographer, diving in a wet suit, not a cage. When his doctor told him he was too old to dive (he’s now in his 80s), he returned to still photography. The President of Iceland came over for the book launch of Feo’s latest book, Primordial Landscapes: Iceland Revealed, which was held at the Smithsonian.

The belief that we’re “over the hill” when we reach the age of 40 or 50 is pervasive in our culture. What if the aging populace were expected to live creative and productive lives? What if our culture expected that late life meant the opportunity to set new goals, start new careers, give our imagination free rein? To search within ourselves for that something that is missing?

You can drop off your own questions about aging at Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, in Greensboro. Or better, bring them to “A Travel Guide to Old Age” and enjoy the sage advice of these women who are living the adventure.

“Ask an Old Person Anything,” presented by Carol Roan and Cheryl Davis, will be held at Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm Street, Greensboro, on Tuesday, January 24, at 7 p.m. All ages are invited to attend.


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