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50+: Live Better, Longer

Too Old to Parent?

Parenting: The Sequel
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Getting on With Life

Grace says that when Sophie was beginning to recover enough to consider the future, it became evident that she would not be able to return to the demanding schedule and long hours of law practice. Instead, she started keeping a journal at Grace's suggestion and began to find the energy to write for a short time in the mornings. A few of her literary essays have won awards, and she is now beginning to work seriously as a writer, as her health allows.

"We talk about writing a lot," Grace, a fiction writer herself, says. "We share ideas and books. Sophie goes to any readings that are during her few hours of energy. Twice, our work has been anthologized in the same volumes, and because she couldn't stretch her energy enough to perform at readings, I read her work.

"There are still those moments without hope -- but never self-pity," says Grace. To cope, Grace writes her fiction and focuses on her three grandchildren. In turn, the grandchildren adore their Aunt Sophie, who creates art projects for them. Grace adds that Sophie has never demanded so much of her attention that she could not find some time for herself.

"There are times when she meets former classmates and their babies, moments when the Harvard alumni magazine arrives and she reads about the professional successes of her classmates -- when she's certain she will never fight her way out of this," Grace says. "We listen, we tell her, yes, she's gotten a lousy deal, and then we try to be upbeat, to make lemonade out of her lemons and then to sweeten it. Sometimes we feel choked by the aftertaste."

The Greatest Gifts

Perhaps the most valuable contribution parents make to adult children like Sophie is to provide optimistic reassurance. "I continue to say that one day she will be well enough to meet men," Grace says. "She's very attractive. I say one day she will meet a man with children who is in search of a loving partner and loving mother for those children. She says I am dreaming."

"But I tell her, 'We need dreams.'"

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