I've been lucky enough to know Helen my whole life. She is pretty special.

I’ve been lucky enough to know Helen my whole life. She is pretty special. I think she was only 91 when this was taken.

If I am in the middle of a passage from one age to the next, the question is how to pass through it gracefully. And what’s on the other side.

I have created my own age categories and this year I traveled from young-old (65-75) to middle-old (75-85) with old-old (85-death) far far in the future. If one has many years to work, many countries to travel, many blogs to occupy (and a book or two to write), many photos to take and many graduations and other ceremonial events to attend and great grandchildren to meet, then there has to be a more hopeful time line than just 65-death.

While my new age categories may seem like wishful thinking, the photo essay, Old Masters at the Top of Their Game, in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine will disabuse you of that idea. The piece opens with this observation, “After 80, some people don’t retire. They reign.” Then Christopher Plummer (84), R.O. Blechman (84), Carl Reiner (92), Frank Gehry (85), Dianne Feinstein (81), Betty White (92), Carmen Herrera (99), Ginette Bedard (81) Tony Bennett (88), Ellsworth Kelly (91), Frederick Wiseman (84), T. Boon Pickens (86), Ruth Bader Ginsberg (81), Edward O. Wilson (85), and Roy Haynes (89) tell us how it is to be old and smart and successful and going strong. The names include actors, political leaders, artists, writers, and an architect and a captain of industry.

Of course we all have our personal heroes and, as I get older, they seem to be aging as well. My hero is Helen Week (92), a tough beautiful Northwoods lady, who is the funniest, wisest, kindest person I know. She lives in Funkley, Minnesota with her equally interesting, tough and beautiful daughter Barb, and bakes (is it too early to put in my request for next summer?) and mows the yard and feeds the dogs and visits with family and friends and laughs and mourns the ones she has lost. That’s the downside of living a long and loving and lively life—those people you love may disappear from your world as time passes. That reality aside, I want to be just like Helen when I grow up.

If you are someone who is of an age-where you are find yourself contemplating age-then please read this article about people in the throes of an old age that is nothing if not exciting.

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