Author Jenney Egertson: Before I Leave, Wisdom from the Stories of Six Women Over Eighty

Jul 24, 2019

"The advice she gave me was so soothing and so beautiful...she said you really have to trust yourself and you have to remember that you know your children better than anyone else. And so you have to believe in what you decide to do. ...you need to do whatever you think is best and not be worried about what other people tell you they think you should do.  That was a problem.  She knew I was trying to raise a child within an alcoholic marriage and at times I was really insecure about that. And she said, 'no, you have to believe in your decisions.' And that was so soothing and helpful to me." - Jenney Egertson on her mom's child-rearing advice

When Jenney Egertson turned 46, she found herself struggling with a variety of issues - facing middle age, grappling with marriage choices, questioning her child-rearing decisions and much more. 

Jenney met Maude Kelly, an 80-something woman, and a spark ignited.  Taken by Maude's poise, demeanor and approach to life, she realized Maude's wisdom and spirit must be documented.  She interviewed Maude and eventually interviewed five more women, all of whom, like Maude, were over the age of 80.  Sadie Anton, a proud Lebanese American, Dr, Hallie Hendrieth-Smith, one of the first black principals in the Twin Cities, Ruth Yamamoto, a Japanese American whose life included stories from inside a Japanese internment camp, and Jenney's mother Edith and grandmother Irene became her subjects.  

In her book "Before I Leave," Jenney compiles the stories and lessons learned from her six octogenerians.  Within those stories are tales of overcoming adversity, facing community, child-rearing, dealing with systemic racism and sexism, and graceful aging.  Jenney Egertson spoke on the morning show about her book.  She'll be the featured guest at Brainerd Public Library's Brown Bag Author Series this Monday, July 29th at noon.

"I was really angry at the age of 46 and I just realized that it's OK to be angry. But once again they all showed me that's not the only way to deal with a problem. Sometimes you have to be angry and sometimes you have to confront right there with anger, but it isn't the only way to react to injustice. And they each had a different way to deal with adversity. And so I have all those tools now...I was always afraid of joining a community. I didn't want to feel boxed in and they, many of those women - I would say four of them, found their communities and their spiritual communities to be a real source of strength in their lives. So I kind of lost my fear of that and then...my age...I was so afraid of aging-what I would look like what I would feel like and they just didn't have that. And I saw that...instead of being afraid, I can try to be curious about what's next. And and that's what I do... I'm curious about what's going to happen next" - Jenny Egertson