Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Last week VTS Professor Emeritus Milton Crum died at his residence in Montana. He leaves behind a legacy of writing about the realities of growing old that has informed and comforted people throughout the world.
I came across his monograph, I’m Old, when I first began studying the field of aging about five years ago. Although I never met Milton face to face, the correspondence we began has informed my understanding of my own aging and others’. He was my mentor from afar, challenging my ideas about the realities of growing old, forcing me to move beyond platitudes and easy answers.
A good description of the way Milton saw himself can be found in an article in which he quotes Viktor Frankl, a survivor of the Nazi death camps. “Frankl said in the camp, he learned that the ‘meaning of life,’ i.e. its dignity and purpose, lies not in some grand philosophy but in attending to the concrete tasks that life lays before us day by day. Both the image and the dictum influence my behavior.”
Milton’s practical words and approach to life continue to speak to us. In 2014 he wrote an addendum to I’m Old called I’m Frail. The picture he painted was darker, more poignant, but leavened with his observations and his devotion to his wife Käthe.
Milton’s work will live on across the globe from the 95-year-old in Oklahoma who found solace in Milton’s words to the researcher in Australia who just requested a copy of it. Thank you, Milton, for sharing your life with us.
Dorothy Linthicum Program Coordinator and Instructor