Do Old People Have Sex?

The great Maya Angelou wrote  on the question of “Do old people have sex?” in her book titled, Even The Stars Looks Lonesome. This entire book is a great read. Below we’ll add the link so you can buy it on Amazon, but for now, here is an excerpt:

An African American woman I know had parents who were married for forty years. The father had a lingering and painful illness during which the mother was his devoted and usually cheerful attendant. The father died. Three years later my acquaintance severed relations with her mother. The mother had dared to take up with a gentleman friend. The daughter who was 35 years old and twice divorced was repelled by the thought her mother was being intimate with a man, and displeasure stretched beyond her control.

A group of friends and acquaintances met a hotel for Sunday brunch. The unhappy woman let her horror over her mother’s friend take control over the conversation.

“What could they possibly be doing together? She’s nearly 60 and he’s got be be 65. Can you imagine them naked together? All that wrinkled skin rubbing against the other.

Her face was an ugly mask. She puckered and pouted and sulked.

“Old people shouldn’t have sex. Just thinking about that turns my stomach.”

Sitting at the table were black women, whose ages ranged from seventy to seventeen. There was silence for a moment after the tirade, then almost everyone began to speak at once.

“Are you crazy?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Old folks don’t have sex. Who told you that lie?”

One woman waited until the clamor had subsided and asked sweetly, “What do you think your mama and daddy did after you were born? They stopped doing the do?”

The whiner answered petulantly, “You don’t have to be nasty.” The statement brought howls of derision.

“Girl you are sick!”

“Get a grip!”

And the oldest lady in the room said, “Honey, tired don’t mean lazy, and every goodbye ain’t gone.”

I was reminded of my mother when she was 74. She lived in California with my 4th stepfather, her great love, who was recovering from a mild stroke. Her telephone voice clearly told me how upset she was, “Baby, I’ve waited as long as I could before bothering you, but things have gone on  too long. Much too long.”

I made my voice as soft as hers had been hard. “Mom, what’s the matter? I’ll take care of it.”

Although I lived in North Carolina, I felt as close as the telephone, credit cards and airlines allowed me to be.

“It’s your poppa. If you don’t talk to him, I’m going to put his butt out. Out of this house. I’ll put his butt on the street.”

 The last husband of mom’s was my favorite.  We were made for each other.  He had never had a daughter and I had not known a father’s care, advice and protection since my teens.

“What did Poppa do, Mom? What is he doing?”

“Nothing. Nothing.  That’s it.  He’s not doing a damn thing.”

“But Mom, his stroke.”

“I know.  He thinks that if he has sex, he’ll bring on another stroke. The doctor already told him that isn’t true. And I got so mad when he said he might die having sex, that I told him there’s no better way to go.”

That was funny, but I knew better than to laugh.

“What can I do, Mom? Really, I mean there is nothing I can do.”

“Yes, you can.  You talk to him. He’ll listen to you. Either you talk to him or I’ll put him out on the street. I’m a woman, I’m not a damn rock.”

I knew that voice very well. I knew that she had reached her level of frustration.  She was ready to act.

I said, “OK, Mom.  I don’t know what I will say, but I’ll talk to Poppa.”

“You’d better do it soon, then.”

“Mom, you leave the house at five-thirty this evening, and I’ll telephone Poppa after you leave. Calm your heart, Mom, I’ll do my best.”

“OK, Baby, ‘bye.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

She was not happy, but at least she had calmed down.  I pondered throughout the day and at six o’clock California time I telephoned.”

“Hi Poppa.  How are you?”

“Hey, baby.  How you doing?” He was happy to hear my voice.

“Fine, Poppa.  Please let me speak to Mom.”

“Oh, baby, she left here ’bout a half hour ago.  Gone over to her cousin’s.”

“Well, Poppa, I’m worried about her and her appetite.  She didn’t eat today, did she?”

“Yes, she did.  Cooked crab cakes and a slaw and asparagus. We ate it all.”

“Well, she’s not drinking, is she?”

“She has a beer with me, and you can bet she’s got a Dewar’s White Label in her hand right now.”

“But, Poppa, something much be wrong.  I mean, is she playing music and cards and things?”

“We played Take 6 all day on this music system you sent us, and I know she’s playing dominoes over there with your cousin Mary.”

“Well, Poppa, you seem to think her appetite is strong.”

“Oh, yeah, baby, your momma got a good appetite.”

“That’s true, Poppa.” I lowered my voice. “All her appetites are strong.  Poppa, please excuse me – but I’m the only one to speak to you – but it’s true her love appetite is string, too, and, Poppa, please excuse me, but if you don’t take care of her in that department, she will starve to death, Poppa.” I heard him cough and sputter and clear his throat.

“Please excuse me, Poppa, but someone is at my door.  I love you, Poppa.”

There was a very weak “Bye, baby.”

My face was burning.  I made a drink for myself. I had done the best I could, and I hoped it would work.”

The next morning, about 7:00 A.M. California time, my mother’s voice gave me the result.

“Hi darling, Mother’s baby.  You are the sweetest girl in the world.  Mother just adores you.” She cooed and crooned, and I laughed for her pleasure.

Parents who tell their offspring that sex is an act performed only for procreation do everyone a serious disservice.  With absolute distress, I must say that my mom died four years after that incident, but she remains my ideal. Now in my sixties, I plan to continue to be like her when I reach my seventies, and beyond, if I’m lucky.

 

So what do you think?  Do you want to be an old person having sex?  To read more of Maya Angelou’s book, here it is on Amazon.

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