Elders Share Wisdom on Love: A Valentine’s Day Treat!

book-cover-200x300Adult children learn a lot from elder parents.

Take a few minutes to read Love Lessons From the Wisest Americanspublished over at the NextAvenue.org site and a great Valentine’s Day treat. The article, published on February 12, 2015, will help to clear up quite a few misconceptions about our aging parents.

Written by Suzanne Gerber, this piece describes research interviews with around 700 elders documenting what they say, looking back, about love and life. Cornell University gerontologist Karl Pillemer, Ph.D conducted the research and wove it into a book, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationship, and Marriage.

At his Vimeo video website, Dr. Pillemer has posted some of the interviews. You can also visit Dr. Pillemer’s Legacy Project website. Check them both out.

Best Quotes From the Article Continue reading

My Grandfather, a Small Church, and Italian Immigrants

The playground where this story took place is behind the Silver Lake Baptist Church (as it used to look) in Belleville, New Jersey.

The church in Belleville, New Jersey.

(A memoir written with the assistance of my father, Reverend Elmo Pascale.)

A  church in Belleville, New Jersey, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in November 2014, and my grandfather, Benedetto Pascale, founded that church in 1914. Several years earlier, in 1909, he had traveled from Naples, Italy to Boston and eventually to the mills in Lawrence, MA, where he labored just in time for the Bread and Roses workers strike (I’ll be writing more on this later in a later post).

The manifest from the White Star Line ship Canopic, which brought my grandfather to the United States. arriving on March 23. 1909.

The manifest from the White Star Line ship Canopic, which brought my grandfather to the United States, arriving on March 23. 1909.

Immigrants arriving from Italy and looking for a Catholic church often found their way blocked by large Irish congregations (I learned this at a Lawrence Massachusetts Museum that focuses on the textile mills and the immigrant experiences).

One of the old mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. My Grandfather worked in one of these buildings (and today  there dozens of them still stand).

One of the old mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. My Grandfather worked in one of these buildings (and today  there dozens of them still stand).

When northeastern United States evangelical Baptist leaders observed this situation they took action. They began welcoming immigrants into their churches, identifying young men with leadership potential. They helped the men learn English and finish high school, guiding them through the naturalization process, and encouraging a select few  to go into the ministry. Grandpa Pascale was one of these men, eventually attending seminary at a small Colgate University storefront on Deitz Avenue in Brooklyn.                                       Continue reading

Happy Mother’s Day 2014, Mom

My mom and me in late 1952.

My mom and me in late 1952.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I know you are a bit frustrated by a few health issues right now, but I hope you know how much we all admire and love you.

In all these years, as far as I can tell, you’ve never encountered a subject that you don’t want to learn more about. Sometimes when I think about you, I just lean back and marvel at your drive and intellectual capacity. Every time we talk, you tell me about what you’ve learned by working on your computer, sharing at the book club, attending a peace and justice meeting, listening to music at the Bach Festival, or working hard in a committee you serve on at one organization or another. Or maybe I arrive and more plants are in the garden, so I know that you’ve been working out there.

Mom, Her Mom, and Me - 1973

Mom, Her Mom, and Me – 1973

Of course these days you tire more easily, but you are learning to pace yourself so you can do the the things you like to do.

Do you have any idea, over the years, just how many people you have registered to vote, all told? Hundreds, I bet. Of course, we all treasure the picture of you and President Obama (well he wasn’t quite the president at that point). But then you were one of the super-volunteers in the Shenandoah Valley, so active in politics and always willing to take on extra jobs. Then last year you were active in the governor’s election, and one day there you were pictured with former President Bill Clinton when he came to campaign for the candidate. Continue reading

Grandma by Jessica Shepherd: A Book Review


Grandma book

Recently I discovered a children’s book, Grandma, that tells a story, from a child’s point of view, about a much-loved grandmother who develops dementia. As an educator, I’ve often thought about the need for books that help children understand the disease while illustrating how to continue to love and support a family member who experiences dramatic memory changes. Only now, years after my family lost my husband’s mother to this terrible brain disease, are children’s books that address dementia beginning to appear.

Grandma, an easy-to-read picture book written and illustrated by Jessica Shepherd, fits the bill. Young Oscar shares his thoughts about his grandmother, describing the fun they have, the fond ways they interact, and the changes that have come about since she “started forgetting a lot of things.” He describes how she lives in a new community, with caregivers, and tells about his visits.

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Uncle Sherman, World War II, and PTSD (Before We Called It That)

Uncle Sherman

Uncle Sherman

It’s Veteran’s Day 2013, when we remember men and women who fight  and those who gave up their lives in wars — wars fought largely to maintain democracy and take stands against extreme hate and cruelty. Each year, I think about my Uncle Sherman, because while he did not die fighting, he made an ultimate sacrifice — forever losing any quality of life after he suffered extreme shell shock (now called post traumatic stress disorder or  PTSD) in World War II. Sherman was a B-24 tail gunner.

These days, as various groups make life complex by telling  people what to believe, how to worship best, and who they should and shouldn’t love, I remember Uncle Sherman, precisely because of how a kid from a poor family told his mother that he had made a complex decision with understated simplicity. He told her he wanted to fight Hitler because of what he learned in Sunday School about freedom, evil dictators, persecution, and even a bit about world religions. Not many people were talking about religious persecution back then, but somehow in American Baptist Sunday school in Terre Haute, Indiana they were.

Uncle Sherman told his mother that he understood that we were fighting evil — and that he could lose his life — but that he wanted to join up. His mom, my grandmother, who was a short order cook with a fifth grade education, made a deal with him. She would sign the papers as soon as he graduated from Gerstmeyer Technical High School. He graduated, she signed, and he was still 17 when he went to war.

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Time for a New iPad for Dad — iPad for Dad #24

ipad4dad5It is time to purchase a new iPad for my father.

If you have followed this blog for the past several years you know that three years ago we (my husband, my daughter, my son-in-law, and me) purchased an iPad for my father’s birthday. The iPad for Dad project, beginning in May 2010, has been an enormous success, and it’s generated a long list of blog posts here on As Our Parents Age.

Rarely do I arrive at my parents’ house without seeing his iPad set up and a quick glance demonstrates that Dad, now 90 years old, has been using it or is about to sit down to write or search. He’s written over 400 journal posts on the iPad — tapping the little arrow and sending them off to his family of readers — and many of these mini-essays shared rich ideas (of course he’s always had these), interesting observations, and detailed family information (much of it new to me and other family members).

What I liked most about the iPad was its ease of use and the fact that it’s always connected to my parents’ wireless. It does not require waiting around while programs boot up, and from the beginning of this project Dad hardly needed any tutoring to get going.

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