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.”