Transcript

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Finally, another installment in our brief but spectacular series.  Tonight, we hear from 91-year-old Flossie Lewis.  A former English teacher, she now lives at the Piedmont Gardens Senior Living Community in the Bay Area.  Lewis keeps busy by writing fiction and offers us insight on what it feels like to grow old.

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FLOSSIE LEWIS, Writer:  Getting old is a state of mind.  Now, I'm 91.  I'm badly crippled, but I still think I'm 15.  Will this go viral?

MAN:  We hope so.

FLOSSIE LEWIS:  There are several ways I keep myself stimulated.  By dragging myself to Piedmont Avenue on my walker or in my wheelchair, and you should see me use my wheelchair.

I write light verse for "The Crest" which is our newspaper, and every month you can find a sly little bit of verse from Flossie Lewis.

The other way I keep being stimulated is just watching politics.  And if that isn't enough to drive you crazy, I don't know what is.  You do struggle to keep yourself neat and clean and fashionable.

And there is always the possibility that romance comes your way.  Just liking someone is a treat because part of being old is to get cranky.  There is indigestion and your teeth fall out and suddenly you need hearing aides and you feel increasingly unattractive, and then somebody says, "How nice you look today, Mrs. Lewis!  Or, you're a real kick, Flossie!"

And you feel good about yourself.  You pick yourself up and you say, "I'm going to get through it.  I'm going to get through it because I have a reason to get through it."

Really growing old is when you discover that you haven't a reason to get through it anymore, and that you would like to go to sleep with a certain amount of dignity.  Accepting the fact the body is going to go but the personality doesn't have to go, and that thing which is the hardest to admit is that character doesn't have to go.

I'm Flossie Lewis.  This is my Brief But Spectacular take on growing old.

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JUDY WOODRUFF:  What a charmer.  I want to be Flossie Lewis.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  If Washington politics is the key to longevity, through this election year, you should get another a few years to live —

JUDY WOODRUFF:  I know.

You can watch our brief and spectacular videos online at pbs.org/newshour/brief.