For James Arruda Henry, the answer to “How old is too old?” would be: “Never.” He was 96 years old when he learned to read. Once he acquired literacy, he hand-wrote his autobiography, In a Fisherman’s Language.
He might have gone to his grave unable to read and write, but he heard about George Dawson, who learned to read at the age of 98 and then co-authored his autobiography, Life Is So Good.
Henry was inspired. He started practicing his signature. Then he went on to a more challenging task, penning his life story.
Henry had captained a lobster boat, been a boxer, served in the National Guard. He married, raised a family, welcomed grandchildren. All that time, he hid a secret that shamed him. He could not read or write.
When he moved into an assisted-living residence in Mystic, Connecticut, he decided it was time to learn. Mark Hogan, a retired English teacher, became his tutor. Now Henry is a published author, with a sense of pride that shines through his eyes. His book is available in paperback and Kindle editions.
Next time I am tempted to tell myself I am too old to start something new, I’ll remember James Arruda Henry. He gives me hope.
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