Friday, September 19, 2008


What does ‘growing old gracefully’ really mean?

TWO of my favourite movie stars are getting on in years – one maturing graciously but still keeping her “heroine” image, and the other, with more than a spoonful of sugar and wit.

I am, of course, referring to our Ipoh-born Datuk Michelle Yeoh who kungfu-ed her way to Hollywood fame and Julie Andrews who made Sound of Music a movie legend.

I saw Yeoh’s picture with her dad in The Star recently as she celebrated her birthday. She turned 46 but looked ever so elegant. It appears that she is still very much her daddy’s girl despite her fame.

And Andrews? She just turned 69. Wow, how time flies. The image of her singing on the meadows of the Alps with a bunch of kids is still fresh in my mind.

She must be in her late 20s then, so vibrant, lively and pretty that every mother would love to have her as a daughter-in-law.
My close friend forwarded me an e-mail of her latest picture together with a write-up of her special appearance at Man­­hattan’s Radio City Music Hall. Well, despite her age, Andrews still looks great, I must say.

The e-mail came with the title “Growing Old Gracefully”. I suppose my friend is concerned that as I get on in years, I would need a little encouragement to do so gracefully. I must admit that I’m not particularly strong in that department. I do find growing old gracefully a bit problematic, if you know what I mean.

For me, ageing comes naturally. I have no problem with that as I don’t need to plan or make special efforts to grow old. It is not a goal to strive for.

Letting it happen “gracefully” is subjective. And what does it really mean? While some will cheer you on for dressing and behaving young, others would criticise you for not behaving your age.
Surprisingly, your own children would be the first to “disown” you, especially when they are still in their teens, that hypersensitive age. You utterly embarrass them if you dress and behave young. They just don’t want to be seen near you lest they too become a laughing stock among their peers.

With modern science and medication, staying young is no longer an impossible dream. Many have used Botox to take off a number of years from their looks. Others have gone under the knife.

Now, back to Yeoh. She has been in the limelight ever since she won the Miss Malaysia title in 1983. She has bloomed like a rose and matured like fine wine. The stress of film-making and production, not to mention those physically demanding scenes in her action movies, don’t seem to show up on her face. She has certainly taken good care of herself.

As for Andrews, we don’t have the good fortune of seeing her up close nor in any recent movie. To commemorate her birthday, she did a stint at the Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall. We didn’t get to see the footage but what came in my mail box is simply hilarious and witty. It reminds me of her character in The Sound of Music.

She rewrote the lyrics to My Favourite Things and for the benefit of those who did not receive the e-mail, here is a taste of her unending wit:

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundle of magazines tied up in strings,
These are a few of my favourite things
When the pipes leak, when the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.
Nobody wants to grow old but old we naturally will become. Being witty, having fun and having the capacity to laugh at ourselves – these, I think, are the hallmarks of ageing gracefully.

For more articles by Hoo Ban Khee, click on the link below:

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