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August 29th, 2009


AgeEsteemer Profile
Gladys Foster

Age 87, Centennial, Colorado, USA

Follow Your Bliss

“I’m a poor, old, half-blind widow,” Gladys Foster says matter-of-factly. “That’s true.”

Well, yes and no. Chronologically and compared to the population at large, 87 years of age is old. Gladys is legally blind in one eye from macular degeneration and has only half her sight in the other eye. She has been a widow for more than 20 years. But Gladys certainly isn’t poor in spirit! Dressed in bright red, her energy is tangible.

“And I’m loving it!” she adds about her self-definition with a sparkle in her eye. “I’m so excited about life – more now than ever!”

Gladys’s life revolves around her blog and the friendships it has created, her professional associations, her extended family and her retirement community.  

“I have no pets, no kids (to take care of), no job. Yet I’m too busy!”  she adds.

Active Blogger

And busy she is. She’s an active blogger. “The Internet is the greatest thing that has happened!” she asserts, likening it to the discovery of fire and the wheel. She started her blog (gladysfoster.blogspot.com) before the 2006 U.S. elections to talk with people about what is meaningful to her. The computer is her link to friends and the world community – and that fills her with joy. “I can write the blog indefinitely because I can type without looking,” she points out, referring to her limited eyesight.

Professional Political Economist

The subject of her blog is political economics, an area of study and involvement that has fascinated her all her adult life. After Gladys earned a Masters in Economics, she married J. Fagg Foster, who was also an economist. While he taught at the University of Denver, she raised their three children. Then in 1985, she earned a Ph.D. in Economics.

“The Ph.D. gave me the credentials to publish in academic journals and to teach,” she explains. Widowed and 63 years old, she began teaching economics as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado – Denver. She also began to participate actively in two professional organizations for economists, the Association for Institutional Thought (AFIT) and the Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE).

“I love going to their annual meetings. I can say anything I want,” she beams. “I come back high!”

Sister and Mother

Gladys’s family and local community are also key elements of her life. Every year, she and her four surviving siblings, ages 79 to 87, have a family reunion in their home town of Elk View, South Dakota. She also travels to see her daughter, two sons and grandchildren and hosts visits from them.

At home, her days are joyfully full. Besides writing her blog, she exercises, walks up to 40 minutes most days, does all her own cooking and cleaning, and takes a weekly tai chi class. She also belongs to the retirement village’s Vision Group, formed for people with impaired vision to share ideas and provide information about new devices.

Avid Learner

She’s a voracious reader (using a magnifying glass) and audio-book listener. When the library bookmobile comes to her retirement community every two weeks, she stocks up on books and tapes. They range from novels to tomes on neurobiology. She emphasizes, “I want to spend the rest of my life learning!”

Gladys obviously loves to toss humor and camaraderie into her life. Twice a month, she joins other members of the Wicked Widows for happy hour at one of their retirement village homes. Each member has a white canvas bag to tote her goodies. “When others see us walking down the street with our little bags, they sing, ‘We know where you’re going!’” she relates. “We talk and laugh about absolutely nothing.”

What’s the secret to this AgeEsteemer’s vibrant and joyful life? Gladys sums it up this way ― “Follow your bliss.”

Note: Gladys is the inspiration for “Gladys” p. 20 in the chapter From Doubts to Daring of the book, AgeEsteem: Growing a Positive Attitude Toward Aging by Bonnie Lou Fatio.

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