Saturday, May 8, 2010, 04:29 PM - Lawsuits, Elder Abuse Laws, Heros & Heroines, If You're Not Outraged . . .If there was a contest for "Worst Place For (Gay)Elderly to Live," Sonoma County, California would have to be on the short list, based on what they did to two elderly gay gentlemen, Clay Greene and Harold Scull, pictured here in happier times. Clay Greene was living in his home in Sonoma County, with his partner of 20 years, Harold Scull. Harold, then 88 years old, fell and was hospitalized. What happened then is every elder person’s – and gay person’s – worse nightmare. The County sprung into action, removing Clay from his home, and sending Clay and Harold, against their will, to separate nursing homes.
Although Clay and Harold had wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other as their responsible persons, the County even obtained court orders preventing Clay and Harold from seeing each other. The County sold their belongings at auction, and as reported by Scott James of the New York Times, removed the men’s cats from their home, right in front of Clay Green. Clay is still haunted by the scene. “When Clay M. Greene remembered the events of June 2008, he clenched his teeth, his hands tightened into fists and his body shook. They grabbed them by their necks and tossed them in a car,’ he said last week, recalling the fate of his beloved cats, Sassy and Tiger. He never saw them again.” Harold died in the nursing home, a few months later. With the assistance of a court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis, of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home
According to Kay Kendall of the Bilerico Project, all Clay has left from his life together with Harold is a photograph. The rest was destroyed by the County.
Clay Greene has decided to strike back against this despicable and egregious conduct, and is suing Sonoma County for violation of his civil rights – as an elder and as a gay man – in a lawsuit that will go to trial in July. Clay is from a generation that was forced to live their lives behind closed doors, so he does not use the term “gay” to describe himself, or the term “same sex partner” to describe his relationship with Harold. By standing up for himself, though, he will vindicate the rights of senior citizens in general and gay senior citizens in particular who live in fear that the same thing could happen to themselves.
To read the New York Times article about Clay Greene, click here. To read Kay Kendall’s article in Bilerico, click here.
You can learn more about the lawsuit, by visiting a Facebook page set up by Clay's supporters: www.facebook.com/JusticeForClay?v=app_2347471856
Sunday, April 18, 2010, 03:56 PM - Heros & HeroinesIf you don't like cute animal stories, . . . read this anyway. You'll love this one.
A dog, Bella, and an elephant, Tarra, living on an elephant sanctuary, became best friends. They don’t let their differences (in this case their species) get in the way of their friendship. These animals have something to teach us about accepting each other’s differences and finding joy in unlikely situations.
Click below to see the original story, broadcast on CBS News by reporter Steve Hartmann.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 11:18 AM - Heros & HeroinesDirector Stephen Walker, pictured here, has made a film for Indepedent Lens about a chorus in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Although the chorus members are in their 80s, the music they perform is anything but geriatric, unless the Clash's "London Calling" now qualifies as old folks music.(I think not). Although you're probably still skeptical, as I admit I am, you can tell just by looking at the film's poster, below, that it is something special.
Will Joe Strummer be rolling over in his grave when they perform "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" Tune in tonight and find out. Here in the Bay Area, the program plays on KQED, Channel 9, at 9 p.m. PST. Click here to go to the Young@Heart website to watch a preview and check the time of your local listing.
Sunday, January 10, 2010, 12:30 PM - Heros & HeroinesA group of elderly adventurers are finding new ways to challenge and enjoy themselves in their 80s and 90s, and in the process changing the way society views the elderly. The New York Times just did an article Seeing Old Age As A Never-Ending Adventure profiling three adventurers, Ilse Telemanich, 90, Tom Lackey, 89, and Charles Smith, 89, pictured here.
Ilse goes hiking in South Africa, even on a sprained leg. Tom Lackey does "wing walking" -- flying over the English Channel strapped atop a single engine plane. Tom just took up the sport in the last 10 years, and has done 20 such flights. His goal for his 90th birthday this year is to be the first person of any age to wing walk across and back the English Channel. Tom,pictured wing-walking here, a self-described "adrenaline junkie," persisted with his new hobby even when members of his church saw his sport as nothing more than a "death wish." (They have since changed their minds, thankfully).
Paul Smith travels to exotic places such as the North and South Poles.
Paul, Tom, and Ilse are not alone. The percentage of elderly travelers going in for adventure travel has gone up as much as 70% in the last 6 years. In fact, Elderhostel, Inc. the travel company specializing in travel for the elderly, has changed its name to Exploritas, to keep up with the trend. One hospital in New York City has even started the nation's first medical fellowship in trauma treatment for the elderly, to deal with mishaps that the elderly may have on their adventurers.
When people hit a ripe old age, they often brag about it, and that is evidently true in the adventure travel area. Paul Smith told the Times that on his South Pole trip, "a woman got off the plane at base camp and started bragging about being 80. She was quickly put in her place. One of the fellows in our group tapped her on the shoulder and said, ‘I don’t want to prick your balloon, but there are three in our group who are older,’ ” Mr. Smith said. Ha!
I used to tell people that if old age did not agree with me, I would take up parachuting lessons, and one day not pull the string. Now I think I will have something to look forward to when I reach that point.
Wing walking may not be your thing, but individuals such as Paul Lackey remind us that, whatever your age, you can have fun and reinvent yourself by taking on new challenges and doing things you thought you would never do. Take it to the limit one more time.
To read the Times article, click here.
National Academies of Science Host Author of New Book "A Place Called Canterbury: Tales of the New Old Age in America"
Monday, October 13, 2008, 05:39 PM - Heros & HeroinesThe National Academies of Science presents author Dudley Clendinen, reading passages from his new book, A PLACE CALLED CANTERBURY: Tales of the New Old Age in America, on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. at the National Academies’ Keck Center, 500 Fifth St., N.W. Washington D.C. The event is free; a photo ID is required for admittance.
DUDLEY CLENDINEN is a former national reporter and editorial writer for The New York Times. This description of A PLACE CALLED CANTERBURY APPEARS on the National Academies' website.
“In 1994, New York Times writer Dudley Clendinen’s mother followed the example of her generational compatriots: she sold her home and moved into an all-amenities-included geriatric apartment building: Canterbury Tower in Tampa Bay. Wealthy, poor, Christian, Jewish, widowed, married—all of Canterbury’s residents had come together, at the average age of 86, in search of a last place to live and die.
Clendinen’s curiosity about this final phase of human life in the 21st century led him to spend 400 days and nights living at Canterbury, during which he became intimately involved in the lives of its residents and staff. With A PLACE CALLED CANTERBURY: Tales of the New Old Age in America (Viking), Clendinen offers a beautifully written, hilarious and deeply moving look at old age in the new millennium.
The last challenge to the generation of the Great Depression and World War II is longevity—none of them expected to live so long, and their baby boomer children weren’t prepared to take so much responsibility for parents who seem to live forever, collecting ailments and shedding assets as they go. But places like Canterbury Tower, more adult camps than retirement homes, allow residents to live out their remaining time on their own terms.
Peopled by brave, daffy, memorable characters determined to grow old with dignity, A PLACE CALLED CANTERBURY is at once a delightful soap opera and a poignant chronicle of the last years of the Greatest Generation. It is an essential read for anyone with aging parents and anyone wondering what his or her own old age will look like.”
If the book is a good one – and this sounds like it – there’s nothing better than hearing the author talk about the book and read part of it. Check it out if you can.
For the National Academies' website, click here.