#498 How old is too old?

Henry's hand-written biography

Hand-written text of James Arruda Henry’s autobiography, from the video below.

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.

You can follow him on Facebook.

Share
About the author

Cathryn Wellner

Writer, storyteller, foodie, enviro, animal lover, photo enthusiast, traveler - opinionated but open. I wake up eager to start the day.

Leave a comment:

9 comments
elysesalpeter - November 26, 2012

You’re never ever too old in my opinion – I started learning tae kwon do at 40 and 4 years later got my black belt, then at 45 started a hard core bootcamp run by marines – and my first book came out in my 40’s. We have to always keep striving and living and trying. :)

Reply
    admin - November 26, 2012

    Wonderfully expressed, Elyse, and I’ve no doubt that’s exactly what you’ll do the rest of your life.

    Reply
Kathleen Comber - November 26, 2012

Love starting my day with a story that warms my heart and flushes out my eyes. An inspiration – you source the most uplifting stories – <3

Reply
    admin - November 26, 2012

    Well now, aren’t you just the sweetest?! You’ve made my day.

    Reply
Naomi Baltuck - December 21, 2012

Oh, I love this story!

Reply
    admin - December 22, 2012

    Stories like this are a kick in the pants for me when I think, “I’m too old to….”

    Reply
      Naomi Baltuck - December 22, 2012

      Cathryn, you will never be too old! In the decades that I I have known you, you have always had a kind of mature wisdom, but it was housed in a youthful spirit. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas, dear friend!

      Reply
        admin - December 22, 2012

        Well now, aren’t you just the sweetest friend! You put a lump in my throat.

        Reply
Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment:


Follow This Gives Me Hope