JEAN B. AGE 90
I was born in the Lake District in northern England and grew up in a house that was built in the 15th century. One of my grandparents was a master printer. We had a wireless, which I wasnt to touch. It was a very expensive one because it could bring in all of Europe. The back of it was filled with special tubes. The wireless filled the house with wonderful music; we would listen to it in front of the fire.
I was drafted during World War II at the age of 18. I was sent to work
in Vickers Armstrong in Blackpool on the west coast of Lancashire. There
it was that I met my husband. He was in the American armed forces. It
was a wet Friday evening and we had finished work. It was very cold and
windy because we were on the cliff-top where the wind blew off the Irish
I landed in the U.S. on the 4th of July 1946, and came to Livingston, NJ. My husband went to Parsons School of Design and became a medical illustrator. I got a job at Bambergers in the fashion department. We had three daughters, but when I had my children I was a stay-at-home mom. I got fired actually, for being pregnant.
I have been back to England four or five times. After my father died my mother came over every other year and she went camping with us until she was in her early 80s.
I am feeling very well. Oh, yes, I am able to do the things I enjoy. I do gardening, I plant things, I walk the dogs, and I am a hospice volunteer twice a week in West Orange. I visit six people there and bring them goodies. My husband died in St. Barnabas hospital, so I thought, its give back time. But I get more than I give, I am sure.
I am fairly interested in theology. I go to the Episcopal Church and
have many friends from there. I befriended a few of the priests who substituted
when our priest was away. One of them was my houseguest about a month
ago. I introduced her to Siddha yoga, the kind of yoga I do. I have taken
four of five
My religious beliefs have definitely changed as I have grown older. I recognize the bible as being full of errors and myths. I grew up as a believer. I now believe in a school of thinking that says everything is in vibration. Its really quantum physics. It satisfies me intellectually, spiritually.
I have done some daring things in my life. I have been on the road to Badrinath. It is the highest temple in the Himilayas22,000 feet above the river. My husband and I took a pilgrimage there 25 years ago. The road is etched into the side of the mountain. There were 25 people in three little buses. The road is so prone to earthquakes that people say goodbye to their family because they might not come back.
The hardest thing about aging is getting used to physical disabilities. I have neuropathy in my feet so I have to be careful when I walk. But I also like being old because of the attention I get from young people. They are so kind. Most of my friends are the age of my children. Frankly, I find old people rather boring!
This is my advice to young people for living a good life: Put yourself in the other persons place. See it from their point of view.
Interview conducted by New Jersey artist Janet Boltax for this exhibition.