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The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune: The Joys of Reaching a Certain Age    by Willard Scott order for
Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune
by Willard Scott
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The title comes from a Sigmund Engel quote, 'The age of a woman doesn't mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.' And almost sixty aging fiddles, including ex-Ronald Macdonald Willard Scott,tell us all about the positive aspects of getting older - they are sincere and often very funny. Contributors range from George H. W. Bush to Yogi Berra, Fred Rogers, Phyllis Diller, and a variety of lesser known elders. Many emphasize the benefits of more choices, freedom, knowing yourself, being able to be yourself (especially to be cantankerous), and having time to catch up on your reading!

Here are a few gems. Leon Uris has this to say of old age, 'I'm only in it for the laughs.' Retired psychiatric nurse Tala Lipshutz comments on her memory, 'It should only rest in peace.' Bill Cosby says 'Aging gracefully is for Baryshnikov'. Dr. Bernie Siegel shares his father-in-law's advice to 'fall on something soft' and his own to 'go out with a smile'. And ex-Sears employee Lucille Jones exhorts us to stay 'limber, loving, and just a little loony!' But it's not all funny. One contributor tells us to smile even though the dentures slip, and another speaks of being vertically challenged by osteoporosis. Maya Angelou remembers 'saying good-bye to beloveds too frequently and too painfully.'

There are wonderful cartoons scattered through these well aged anecdotes, my favorite showing two old fogies on a bench (New Yorker, 1996). One says to the other 'My inner child just turned sixty-five.' And quotes of even elder elders enliven the pages. I especially enjoyed one by Somerset Maugham, 'Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long' and a Japanese saying, 'The sunsets of life are as glorious as the sunrises.' Perhaps the wisest advice comes from retired registered nurse Virginia Williams, who urges us to 'feel the breeze in your face and listen to the song in your heart.'

Whether you're already in your elder years, approaching them, or know someone else who is, read The Older the Fiddle, the Better the Tune aloud and hear mature old fiddles pour years of accumulated wisdom into your ears.

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