There are two female authors in Santa Barbara who have reached advanced ages, but have no intention of going gentle into that good night. They both want to live their lives to the fullest, and this means taking risks and getting out of their comfort zones. One way they have done this is by compiling an anthology of stories from seniors throughout the country called Let the Clock Run Wild: Wit and Wisdom from Boomers and Bobbysoxers.
Judy Warner Scher and Jewell Reinhart Coburn said that the title of their book is key to understanding the message they wanted to convey. When you get older, you have two choices, they said: “You can give up and be dead before you are dead,” or you can “let the clock run out and live life.”
A writing class offered through the SBCC Adult Education program provided the inspiration for the book, according to Scher. In class, she said that older people had expressed the idea that they “felt marginalized and invisible.” One morning, she “got up at 7, sat bolt upright, and said, ‘Maybe I should give voice to these people.’”
Choosing the more than 50 stories and poems featured in their book wasn’t an easy task. They put out a nationwide call for submissions, and the stories and poems poured in on a variety of subjects, including love, family, taking risks, dying, and sex. While some of the stories might not tap into your personal experiences, most of those in the anthology have universal appeal.
Not only did Scher and Coburn edit the anthology, but they also wrote stories for it. Scher wrote one titled “A Moving Experience.” After her husband died, she decided to move from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Santa Barbara. In her sixties, and with no family nearby, people questioned her decision. She said in her story, “Everything is new: the sights, the smells, the people, and, of course, my experiences. I feel alive and alert … I realize that it’s not about choosing to move, it’s about listening to your heart so that when it’s your time, change just happens.”
Coburn’s story “Everyday Alchemy” explores the way a family learns to forgive one another. It starts with a scene everyone can relate to: family members bickering with one another. However, the story ends with an insight that can be useful for everyone.
There are three stories in the anthology written by a former hospice nurse that are particularly moving. Doris Thome writes about death in a way that is both beautiful and inspiring. She describes the experiences of three people dying: a young woman, an older man, and her father. Her take on death is unforgettable.
Scher said that getting older should be a liberating experience. “Often people get more fearful. They get protective, and their world gets smaller.” She added, “As you get older, you need to do the opposite.”
The authors will sign copies of their book Tuesday, November 4, 7 p.m., at Chaucer’s Books, 3321 State Street. Call 682-6787.