Photo Essays

Embracing Old Age in New York

Breakfast is Claire's favourite meal of the day. She prepares it methodically and enjoys her bowl of cereal and fruits to the last drop of milk. April 28, 2014.
An image of Claire Gottfried from Patrícia Monteiro’s’ Life Ever After’ series (all images courtesy Patrícia Monteiro)

Sooner or later, we all wake up to wrinkles and gray hair. Yet what’s most frightening about aging isn’t necessarily the sagging skin or stiff joints, but the prospect of growing invisible to society — that people will somehow stop really seeing you.

It was in hopes of casting a more loving and empathetic spotlight on the elderly that Patrícia Monteiro created her series Life Ever After, which invites audiences into the lives of old women who live in Manhattan and still walk its streets every day. Though most have lost their spouses, their days are still full. One image captures 86-year-old Sonia Goldstein applying powder to her cheek as she prepares to meet a friend for dinner and a play on the Lower East Side. Another shows Chelsea resident Claire Gottfried slurping down the last drops of milk from a bowl of cereal she’s methodically prepared for breakfast.

It’s easy to admire these women, who seem to embrace life as it comes. I can’t help but hope I’ll one day be as undaunted. As Monteiro told me, “In the end, growing old alone is both sad and inspiring, because you have to really be independent and love the life you have. Life doesn’t end when you reach your eighties.”

Claire Gottfried's nightgowns dry in her bathroom in the Chelsea development Penn South, New York City. April 3, 2014.
An image from Patrícia Monteiro’s ‘Life Ever After’ series
Sonia Goldstein, 86, gets ready to meet a friend for dinner and see a theater play in the Lower East Side. New York, NY. May 6, 2014.
An image of Sonia Goldstein from Patrícia Monteiro’s ‘Life Ever After’ series
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An image from Patrícia Monteiro’s ‘Life Ever After’ series
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An image from Patrícia Monteiro’s ‘Life Ever After’ series
Portrat of Molly Kanner. April 23, 2014.
A portrait of Molly Kanner from Patrícia Monteiro’s ‘Life Ever After’ series
Sonia Goldstein, 86, at the Whitney Museum. April 8, 2014.
An image of Sonia Goldstein from Patrícia Monteiro’s ‘Life Ever After’ series
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An image from Patrícia Monteiro’s ‘Life Ever After’ series
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An image from Patrícia Monteiro’s ‘Life Ever After’ series
Single bed for a single lady. April 16, 2014.
An image from Patrícia Monteiro’s ‘Life Ever After’ series
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