How gray is my valley

Careful readers of this column may have noticed a change in the tagline at the end. For several weeks, I’ve been quietly announcing the publication of my first book, “How Gray is My Valley: Enlightened Observations About Being Old.”

It’s a compilation of the columns most favored by my readers over the past 17 years. I know that because you’ve told me. And, yes, I have written a weekly newspaper column for that long.

I’m excited about this book and hope you will be, too. My husband, a laid-back, no-nonsense kind of guy is also quite enthusiastic. He indicated he wants George Clooney to play him in the movie version. My daughter told all her friends via Facebook that “My mom is a rock star.” And one loyal reader has already reserved 10 books. I can feel the love.

This past week, on a day that would have been my mother’s 105th birthday, “How Gray is My Valley” went up on Amazon. The first mini-story, which is what all my columns are, talks about my mother — so the coincidence of publication was particularly poignant for me. It speaks tenderly about her allegiance to Mother’s Day — I wanted to publish before that date to describe and honor her.

I keep an eye on the Amazon site and noted someone had immediately purchased the book on Kindle, apparently read it overnight and then wrote a lovely review. I was touched. As I indicate in the acknowledgments section, I envision people having fun with this book. It’s in easy-read print for old eyes and lends itself perfectly to a talk-about-aging discussion over a cup of tea.

I reveal a lot about myself and my loved ones in my writing — always have. But this book goes a little over the top in that regard. As illustration — you will come to fully recognize how much I love my husband in the series of stories I tell about him throughout the book. This is the husband who did not want me to mention him at all in any form in the first five years of my writing.

There is a column titled “Sexy Aging” that should get your attention, although the one about woodchucks is my personal favorite. I talk about the various dogs and one feisty cat our family has had over the years. After the book was published, I realized I had not included the story about Alice, the basset hound who lived with us when our kids were in their teens — the one who ate the dog-training video we’d rented. I did include the column about Toby, the pooch who had a lot of idiosyncrasies and always looked like a bad hair day.

The best thing about this book I offer up for your consideration is this: all the revenue received from it will go to Grandma’s Porch Fund, a nonprofit venture my husband and I launched a few years ago to assist and support lower-income, older adults who want to age in place.

Good cause. Good read. Hope you agree.

Sharon Johnson is an associate professor emeritus, Oregon State University, and author of “How Gray in My Valley: Enlightened Observations About Being Old.” Reach her at Sharon@agefriendlyinnovators.org

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