Looking Back, at Age 95

From the oldest-working park ranger, a 2016 Influencer in Aging

(The following is a blog post by one of Next Avenue’s 2016 Influencers in Aging. It previously appeared on CBreaux Speaks.) 

My voice will be stilled in the not too distant future, I know, and just who will be my replacement hasn’t yet been determined. Or, maybe I’m just not aware of how that process will play out over time, and that’s how it should be. After all, we’re each one-of-a-kind human beings, not to be cloned except maybe in the case of identical twins, but even that may be improbable.

Perhaps those things we see in ourselves as flaws are really what make us unique and un-clonable, maybe?

It becomes more puzzling with each day — just why this relatively frail and inconsequential woman in her final decade has come to the attention of “The World,” a world she has stood in awe of throughout a long and rather ordinary existence.

Only, in looking back, that life may have been far less ordinary — in the living of it — than I ever realized.

The ups may have been higher and the lows far deeper — all leading to an extraordinarily rich life experience, for all the pain or pleasure it brought.

It’s only in retrospect that I can see that, and realize that all of it was providing the enhanced energy and a keen perceptiveness that I’m able to access today as all of that aliveness appears to be on tap when I’m before audiences in my little theater presentations. I seem to be able to draw upon what turns out to be common and universal themes that connect with others.

This may be the only way for me to make sense of the magic …


(Next Avenue has invited other 2016 Influencers in Aging to write essays about aging. Max Richtman wrote this essay on what he would like to change about aging in America.)


By Betty Reid Soskin
Betty Reid Soskin is a Next Avenue 2016 Influencer in Aging and the oldest full-time ranger for the National Park Service.

Next Avenue brings you stories that are inspiring and change lives. We know that because we hear it from our readers every single day. One reader says,

"Every time I read a post, I feel like I'm able to take a single, clear lesson away from it, which is why I think it's so great."

Your generous donation will help us continue to bring you the information you care about. Every dollar donated allows us to remain a free and accessible public service. What story will you help make possible?