Shortly after arriving on Cape Cod to spend a year by herself, Joan Anderson’s chance encounter with a wise, playful, and astonishing woman helped her usher in the transformations and self-discoveries that led to her ongoing renewal. First glimpsed as a slender figure on a fogged-in beach, Joan Erikson was not only a friend and confidante when one was most needed, but also a guide as Anderson stretched and grew into her unfinished self.
Joan Erikson was perhaps best known for her collaboration with her husband, Erik, a pioneering psychoanalyst and noted author. After Erik’s death, she wrote several books extending their theory of the stages of life to reflect her understanding of aging as she neared ninety-five. But her wisdom was best taught through their friendship; as she sat with Anderson, weaving tapestries of their lives with brightly colored yarn while exploring the strength gathered from their accumulated experiences, Joan Erikson’s lessons took shape on their small cardboard looms as well as in her friend’s revitalized life.
In writing about their extraordinary friendship, Anderson reveals a need she didn’t know she had: for a mentor to help navigate the transitions she faced as she grew beyond middle age. And when Joan Erikson had to face her husband’s death and the growing limitations of her own body, Anderson was able to give back some of the wisdom she had gleaned. To this poignant, joyful account, Joan Anderson brings the candor and sensitivity that have made her an acclaimed speaker and writer on midlife and its possibilities. A Walk on the Beach is an experience to savor and treasure, a glimpse of the exuberant spirit that can be sustained and passed on in all our friendships.
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|Title of eBook: A Walk on the Beach: Tales of Wisdom From an Unconventional Woman|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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A Walk on the Beach: Tales of Wisdom From an Unconventional Woman
OUT OF THE FOG
The call came as I was dressing to go out for dinner. "Joan's dying," her caretaker announced without preamble.
"What?" I was stunned and held the phone in silence as my heart began pumping. "How could that possibly be?" I asked, trying to push away the stark finality of Karen's statement. "She was perfectly fine just a week ago, and so full of herself at her birthday party." I could hear my voice pleading.
"I know," Karen continued, "but sometime last week she took to bed, her will broken somehow. These last few months have been such a struggle. She so detested the nursing home."
That was an understatement. Joan once told me that she thought putting an elder in a nursing home was a bit like taking the person to the dump. "The facilities are usually so far out of town," she said, "and the poor inmates are estranged from everything real about life." But as her fainting spells and frailty increased, her family and doctors felt that she needed the supervision, especially since she had a habit of firing the nurses hired to watch over her at home. Ever since she had been moved, though, I had watched her energy and determination slowly fade.
"Is she allowed visitors?" I asked.
"Yes, you could go over now, if you like. The family is having dinner."
I hung up the phone and sank into a nearby chair. A routine day had suddenly taken on immense implications. For the past several years Joan had been my mainstay. Although in many ways she appeared to be the antithesis of me-tall, patrician, at home in her body, overflowing with tho