Search Results for 'refugee'

Alaska Elders as refugees [internally displaced persons]

I was wondering if anyone else * noticed the impact of the negative conditions in rural Alaska affecting older people? especially if this means older people have to move to Anchorage or Fairbanks. This topic came up recently among the groups that need to be (or should be) prepared to assist those folks, despite Gov. Palin’s and the Republican’s inaction.

If you know of someone else that can give a feel or better yet, actual numbers or examples, please ask them. Post your results in comments below or e-mail me.


*
Sarah Palin, the elderly, the disabled, older Americans and rural Alaska


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Nonagenarian autobiographies

Ruth Gruber, woman of letters, tells her own story.
The Truro Daily News

Witness: One of the Great Correspondents of the 20th Century Tells Her Story by Ruth Gruber

With her perfect memory (and plenty of zip), 95-year-old Ruth Gruber – adventurer, international correspondent, photographer, maker of (and witness to) history, responsible for rescuing hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees during the Second War II and after – tells her story in her own words and photographs.

Gruber’s life has been extraordinary and extraordinarily heroic. She received a B.A. from New York University in three years, a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin a year later, and a Ph.D. from the University of Cologne (magna cum laude) one year after that, becoming at age 20 the youngest Ph.D. in the world (it made headlines in The New York Times; the subject of her thesis: the then little-known Virginia Woolf).

At 24, Gruber became an international correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and travelled across the Soviet Arctic, scooping the world and witnessing, firsthand, the building of cities in the Siberian gulag by the pioneers and prisoners Stalin didn’t execute … and when she was 33, Ickes assigned another secret mission to her – one that transformed her life: Gruber escorted 1,000 Holocaust survivors from Italy to America, the only Jews given refuge in this country during the war. […]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill 192pp, Granta Books, £12.99

http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2239306,00.html
It’s a relief to find an amusing look at getting old, says Katharine Whitehorn
Saturday January 12, 2008, The Guardian

Diana Athill is 90 and has almost no regrets, despite having lived a life which most women of her class and era might have thought regrettable in the extreme.

And she still thinks so; that’s the joy of it. Although she sees with grim clarity the drawbacks and horrors of old age, illness, death, what comes across most is her acceptance and interested curiosity about the condition. She knows she has to be a carer for Barry, who has become diabetic and has other health problems and won’t control his diet. She dislikes being a carer very much and grumpily asks herself: “If a life so severely diminished is shortened by eating doughnuts what will it matter?” But she accepts it.

From The Times, January 11, 2008
Reflections on the gravity of growing older, Jane Shilling
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/jane_shilling/article3166519.ece
I’ve just been reading Somewhere Towards the End, Diana Athill’s memoir of old age

From The Times, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article3168331.ece

January 11, 2008
Sleepwalking into a crabbit old age– What are we doing introducing more health screening to allow us to live even longer? Valerie Grove

As Jane Shilling wrote, reviewing Somewhere Towards the End, by 90-year-old Diana Athill, Athill is cheered that women in her family “make old bones and good deaths”. But there is a chilly coda to this. Athill looked after her own dying mother.

…Athill has observed that good deaths tend to require the presence not merely of the principal actor, who is too busy dying to take charge of the manner of his or her demise, but also a producer and director, in the person of a daughter.

“But I have no daughter… And I haven’t got the money to pay for care of any kind. If I don’t have the luck to fall down dead while still able-bodied, it will be the geriatric ward for me.”

Even her redoubtable mind shrinks from this. “Fortunately, if a prospect is bleak enough, the mind jibs at dwelling on it,” she stoically adds.

We all jib at it: but for most the geriatric ward is the reality,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/01/11/boath106.xml

Dr. Lydia T. Black

Dr Lydia T. Black, at Kenai Fjord, July, 2002 by grandson, Andrew McEvoy

Dr. Black survived Stalin, forced labor under the Nazis, refugee status, and never suffered fools, the pompous, the bully, nor laziness or sloppy scholarship. She was fond of cats, dogs, children, and those needing a friend in a strange land.

The following is summarized from documents at Lydia T. Black 1925 to 2007 and from the Kodiak Daily Mirror

Widowed with young children at 44, she went to college and finished her BA and MA in two years and her Ph.D. in another two years.

She studied at Northeastern University and Brandeis University in the Boston area before receiving her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She joined the faculty of anthropology in 1973 at Providence College in Rhode Island. She moved to Alaska in 1984 as Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks, whence she “retired” in 1998.

She continued her work in Kodiak, where she helped translate and catalogue Russian archives of St. Herman’s Seminary. The Orthodox Church in Alaska recognized her contribution by awarding her the Cross of St. Herman.

She wrote at least 66 more books and articles appearing in publications as diverse as Natural History, Arctic Anthropology and Studies in Soviet Thought and was a contributor to various exhibits and conferences on the Arctic, including the Library of Congress’ Meeting of the Frontiers, the New York Museum of Natural History’s Jesup Centenary Congress and the Smithsonian Institution’s Crossroads of the Continents.

One of her best-known books, “Aleut art — Unangam aguqaadangin” is a collection of beautifully photographed and carefully documented art made by Alaska Natives of the Aleutian Islands. Another, “Russians in Alaska, 1732 to 1867,” was published in 2004, the year Lydia turned 79.

In 2001, Russia awarded her the Order of Friendship, honoring her contribution to promoting cross-cultural understanding between Russia and America. She received the Alaska Anthropological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and the Alaska Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the Humanities in 2005.

Lydia was born in Kiev, where her grandmother came to live with the family. Her grandmother instituted an educational regimen for her which included two days per week of speaking Russian, two days per week of speaking French and two days per week of speaking German. On Sundays, the family could relax and speak Ukrainian. It was decreed that Lydia would study English in school. Lydia’s grandmother would take her to the ‘secret church’, hosted by three elderly women – the KGB eventually did arrive to arrest them.

Lydia’s father was executed when she was eight years old. At 16 (1941) her mother died of TB. Lydia was picked up into forced labor for Germany. At war’s end, Lydia was in Munich and got a job scrubbing toilets in American officers’ quarters. They realized Lydia could speak six languages (she had learned Polish during the war) so she became a translator at the UNRRA’s displaced children’s camp.

Lydia met and married Igor A. Black. They then emigrated to the U.S. in 1950. Igor became a thermodynamics engineer whose work on the Apollo Mission was officially commemorated by NASA. Lydia was a full-time wife and mother. Suddenly Igor died in 1969, leaving Lydia alone with three teen-aged daughters and a toddler. With her older daughters’ consent, Lydia returned to school as a full-time college student.

Dr Black died in Kodiak, AK, with family, friends, Orthodox services, and the feline sibling companions Masia and Vasia present. Masia, brother Vasia, and companion human Lydia Black
Masia, faithful guardian during Lydia’s illness would wake Lydia in the middle of the night, to great complaint. However, Masia seemed to be sensing something physically awry in Lydia’s breathing while asleep and was waking her to “reset” her. Masia would reach over and: Slap-slap-slap, at which point Lydia would sputter and tell the cat to stop it. [Click on small picture to enlarge.]

Anthropologist Lydia Black Dead at 81
Casey Kelly, KMXT

KODIAK, AK (2007-03-13) Anthropologist Lydia Black, author of many books on Alaska Native culture and Alaska history, died Monday morning of liver failure at her home in Kodiak. She was 81. © Copyright 2007, apti

audio file (mp3 format), click to play or right click to download and save.


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Tolstoy’s bicyclists

more nonagenarians and centenarians

Too old to scuba dive at 80? Don’t believe it. We talk to eight intrepid people who prove it’s never too late to learn something new, whether it’s dancing, making a keep-fit video – or skydiving

Friday January 12, 2007, The Guardian

The journalist: Rose Hacker, 100

Last year, at the age of 100 and after being a politician, writer, artist, sex therapist and peace activist, Hacker became a journalist. She was at the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in Tavistock Square in London when a local newspaper reporter saw her give a speech and suggested she write a regular column. Called “She’s 100 so she should know a thing or two”, it runs in the Camden New Journal, a north London newspaper, every fortnight. She has written about issues including homelessness, the wealth gap, the divisiveness of religious education, greed and property ownership. “I’ve got so much I have to say. I look at my great-granddaughter who is three years old and think, what sort of world has she been brought into? I just can’t bear it.”

Every couple of weeks, a reporter comes to her room at the retirement home in north London where she lives and types away at a laptop while Hacker talks, surrounded by books on politics and art and photographs of her family. “Then he shows me on the screen in a big font so I can read it,” she says. “It’s very exciting. I can do anything – they don’t tell me what to write.

“It has given me a new lease of life. I was dying. I had my 100th birthday and everybody gave me parties; I had a wonderful time. Then I collapsed. I was unconscious; I had everything wrong with me. Now, in my second century, I’m like a baby, I’ve started all over again. I had to learn to walk again, come out of nappies.”

It’s not often that you meet 100-year-olds, but it seems unlikely that many are as lively as Hacker. She is partially deaf and blind but she walks unaided and her mind is crammed with information. She is funny, too. She’s wearing glamorous, big silver earrings that dangle furiously when she leans forward in her chair to make a point – and she has an opinion on everything.

Hacker was born in east London to Jewish parents. Her father, an immigrant from Poland, ran a tailoring business and Hacker became one of his clothes designers. Having always been interested in politics, she joined the Labour party and got married – to Mark, an accountant (he died in 1982, after 52 years of marriage). She gave up being a designer when she had children – two sons – but later joined the Marriage Guidance Council and became one of Britain’s first sex therapists. She wrote several books, including one about sex for teenagers. “Nobody talked about sex in those days,” she says. “These days, it’s all everyone seems to talk about”.

“It would be so easy for me to sit in this chair, listen to music and do nothing,” she says. “I can understand people my age who just give up.” So why doesn’t she? “Because of the state of the world. I think it’s very important that people should listen to people like me – and we’re being totally ignored.” Does that make her angry? “Yes. But I’m furious about everything.” Not least what Hacker, a lifelong socialist, sees as the betrayal by New Labour. “I wrote to Blair and said if you go to war in Iraq, after 80 years of hard work I will resign. The same day I got a certificate that makes me an honorary lifetime member of Highgate Labour party, so I’m not sure I can.” Did she ever think the future would be this bad? “No, I thought we would have a wonderful future. We’d built a welfare state and it worked. We had a health service. We built schools. But the monsters have taken over the world.”
Emine Saner

The keep-fit fanatic: Seona Ross, 90

Ross is 90 and has just made her first exercise video. “I enjoyed it thoroughly,” she says. “It was fun, a real challenge. I had three members of the exercise class I run working with me to show that older people can do it. I had thought about doing a video before when I was younger but never did, so when Help the Aged asked me, I agreed without even thinking about it. I hadn’t seen any [other videos] I thought were suitable for older people.” For the elderly, exercise is, she says, “absolutely essential. The main thing about the work I do with senior citizens is it is keeping them in their own homes. I’m saving the NHS and the government a hell of a lot of money. I’ve had people come to me who decide they don’t need to take all the pills they had been taking – they’re not going into care homes.”

The video and DVD, Step to the Future, contains 40 minutes of exercises for older people. “Exercise is vital in having the right attitude to life. All those endorphins are good for you. The video shows that older people can exercise and enjoy it, but we focus a lot on how to do it safely.” In her classes, Ross, a music fan, relies on good tunes to keep her members moving. What did she choose for her video? “The music was dead boring, to be honest,” she says and laughs. So what does she choose for her class? “All sorts, but very little of your modern music – as far as I’m concerned, that’s not music at all. All that repetitiveness.” She makes an exasperated noise. Ross likes Latin American music and old showtunes.

Ross, who has three children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and lives in Wiltshire, decided she wanted to become an exercise instructor when she was 14 and saw a demonstration by the Women’s League of Health and Beauty in Glasgow, the institution founded by Mary Bagot Stack to introduce exercise to all women. “My parents thought I was mad and said I had to finish school.”

Just before she turned 17, she moved to London and attended Stack’s school to train instructors at a time when women were expected to be able to dance, but not do these strange stretches and jump around in shorts and vests. “We were pioneers,” says Ross. “We would do demonstrations in Hyde Park and great crowds would come. They must have thought we were mad but we were treated like pop stars.”

Now, in her 10th decade, she says it is exercise that has kept her young. “I still go out and enjoy myself and see my friends. I’m just as fit and frisky as I was when I was 70.” Step to the Future is available on DVD and video (£12) from http://www.helptheaged.org.uk/homeshopping or 0870 770 0441
Emine Saner

“The student: Bernard Herzberg, 98

Herzberg was 81 when he did his first degree, and is now just months away from getting his MA in African economics and literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in London. His final paper, an essay on the inevitability of military rule in Africa after decolonisation, was handed in four months ahead of the deadline.

“This is the second time I have written this essay,” says Herzberg, who lives in East Finchley. “The first time the lecturer did not agree with the way I wrote it, so I had to redo it.” This time the 98-year-old is confident that he will pass. But whether he does or not hardly seems to matter: his wife died last month, and studying is now a way for him to keep himself occupied. “I didn’t want to sit at home doing nothing, especially now that I am alone,” he says.

At Soas he has made many friends among his fellow students and lecturers, all of whom are a lot younger than him. “Do they treat me well? Oh, yes, very much so.”

As a Jew growing up in 1930s Germany, Herzberg was denied the chance of a university education. In his early 20s he emigrated to South Africa, where he lived for half a century before moving to London in 1985. Married with two children, he didn’t get round to university until after he had retired from the chemical industry in his early 80s. But this latest MA will join a long list of educational achievements, including another MA in refugee studies gained in 2005, and a degree in German and German literature before that.

Whatever the outcome in May, Herzberg is satisfied with his accomplishments. “Whether I get the third degree or not is immaterial,” he said. “I have lived a good life.”
Mildred Amadiegwu”


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