Within the first moments of the comedy/drama "Sunset Park," I wanted to get to know Sheila Oaks, who plays widowed mother.
Many people with aging parents don't want to face their eventual death, said Rachelle Elias, a licensed marriage and family therapist and grief specialist in Santa Monica. "We believe that, since they've been here all of my life, they're a fixture. They'll always be here.
"Also, the small child part of us sees our parents as a buffer between us and anything bad that might happen. They're sort of a place of refuge, even if it's just in our mind."
Stella Goren is only about 4-foot-10, but she packs a strong punch.
It all started when she was turning 79, and her husband asked what she wanted for her birthday.
"I'd like to work out at a gym with a personal trainer," Goren told him.
In spite of thinking she was meshugge and assuming this wouldn't last, her husband gave his wife of 45 years what she wanted.
"I was very happy," Sam Goren recalled. "I didn't have to go out and buy her a present."
It turned out to be the perfect gift. Goren has been working out at the In Training Fitness Center in Hollywood, and loving it, for the past five years.
Irvin Kipper may be 88 years old, but he still loves wooden blocks and Tinker Toys.
In fact for 60 years, "Kip"
has spent his days thinking almost exclusively about dolls and trains and stuffed bears, because he owns Kip's Toyland in the original Farmers Market.
Kipper just can't stay away from his store.
"The few times when I haven't gone to work, I feel like I'm kind of lost," he said. "I might do a few things around the house, but I think, 'What am I doing here? I should be over there working.'"
And work he does, Monday through Saturday, still making sure that his customers find that special toy for their children or grandchildren.
In my family, death and funerals seem to inspire joking. Maybe it's discomfort, but it also seems to be a lack of concern and heaviness about the whole thing. No one in my family does much visiting of graves, and burials are apparently not deemed necessary.
When I last wrote this column for The Jewish Journal several months ago, I had no idea that my mother would soon be living a short bike ride away. Or that her relocation to Los Angeles would take over my life. But transitions, while challenging and stressful, thankfully don't usually last forever, and I'm glad to say that Mom is finally settled in, and I'm returning to my status as a fully functioning human being.
"I have good news! My cancer is in remission." I've called Elsie Schwartz to talk about the High Holy Days, but the news about her illness is an unexpected surprise and a huge relief. At 89, Elsie has taught me a great deal about life and about choosing to face death by living fully and fully loving.
When I'm 79, I want to be Mollie Pier.
I've been thinking about sex.
Now that I'm over 50, I'm enjoying sex more than I did in my youth. Will the fun last, I wonder?