For many women, the transition from actively engaged 50-year-old to septuagenarian retiree is daunting. Not only are there the unpleasant physical changes of menopause, but there is the emotional challenge of watching children move away and begin their own families, while being left with the uneasy task of facing mortality.
After some 40 years in the business world, Gordon Steen never thought his morning would start outdoors with hyenas, elephants and monkeys.
As bombs dropped over Germany, aerial photographer Arthur Oxenberg would lean out of a B-17 Flying Fortress with his camera to snap a photograph. His photos were a way the U.S. Army Air Forces could tell whether bombs hit their targets.
The High Holy Day liturgy includes the poignant plea: "Do not cast me off b'eyt zikna," which is usually translated as "when I get old." It is a fear many of us have, but are often afraid to articulate. We live in a youth-intoxicated culture where older people are sometimes invisible.
I called my 94-year-old father in Ohio on July 9. I told him how much I loved him, that he was the most wonderful father ever, that I would miss him, and that it was OK for him to let go.
He sleeps while I sit by his side. Every so often, Dad wakes up, and looks with some confusion around his small room, at the hospital bed, the TV and the whiteboard where someone has printed in large letters: “Today is WEDNESDAY, Aug. 3, 2011. Your daughter Ellie is coming this morning.”
"If my mother was here, she'd probably be saying, 'Dayenu, enough already,'" said Dr. Eugene Gettelman, who turned 100 in June. "She'd think I was meshugge for having a fourth bar mitzvah."
Many executors have learned the hard way that they are not off the hook for mistakes just because they rely on the counsel of attorneys, accountants or other professional advisers.
"The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years," an 82-year-old man rinses out his dentures in his solitary apartment and longs for love and sex. Another elderly man laments that he has been impotent since receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
Selma, 73, discusses her sexless marriage, her affairs, the elderly man who tried to rape her and the hopelessness of living alone. "Touching, it's what I miss," she confides. "What I'd really like is not the sex act itself. I just want to be held."