Am I Old yet?: A True Story of a Timeless Friendship

Overview

Am I Old Yet? is the true story of two women, fifty years apart, who find themselves in a place in their lives they never thought they'd be and in a friendship they never dreamed they'd know. It takes us deep into a world most hope never to enter and few dare to go: the nursing home. What begins for Leah as a reluctant agreement to spend one hour a week with Adele at the California Chateau evolves into hundreds of hours. Through their visits and conversations (about aging, death, miracles, and even sex), Adele, ...

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Overview

Am I Old Yet? is the true story of two women, fifty years apart, who find themselves in a place in their lives they never thought they'd be and in a friendship they never dreamed they'd know. It takes us deep into a world most hope never to enter and few dare to go: the nursing home. What begins for Leah as a reluctant agreement to spend one hour a week with Adele at the California Chateau evolves into hundreds of hours. Through their visits and conversations (about aging, death, miracles, and even sex), Adele, who is completely blind, surprisingly is the one who helps Leah see the truth about aging-that no matter how old a person is, if she has love in her life, there is only one age-alive.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When she became a volunteer for Older Corps, an organization in Los Angeles that arranges visits for the elderly in nursing homes, Komaiko, a 44-year-old children's book author (Annie Bananie, etc.), was motivated by a desire to overcome her pervasive fear of aging. She was assigned to visit Adele, a 93-year-old blind resident who was alert and in relatively good health, but who spent most of her days lonely and longing for conversation. Over the course of about a year, their visits increased from once to several times a week as the friendship between the two women deepened. Komaiko is best at bringing to life Adele's independent mind and her determination to wrest as much life as possible out of her remaining days, as well as at pinpointing the aspects of nursing home life that worked against Adele's fighting spirit. She recounts how Adele was confined to her room without company for weeks because she was diagnosed with scabies and the nursing home physician was on vacation in Palm Springs. Unfortunately, Komaiko devotes too much of this memoir to unconvincing ruminations on her own personal life and how contact with Adele changed her for the better. The saccharine final anecdote, in which Adele meets Komaiko's family and her new boyfriend at a party at her home, is perhaps more appropriate to children's literature. Though everyone, apparently, lives happily ever after, this is not often the case in nursing homes according to the author's own account. Agent, Patti Breitman. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Komaiko, a best-selling children's author, here jumps into the adult market. Feeling old and burned out in the fast-paced world of L.A., she decided to volunteer for Elder Corps, an organization that matches companions with the elderly in nursing homes. Komaiko was matched with Adele, a 93-year-old blind woman. At the age of 90, Adele (with her children) had moved across country from New Jersey to Southern California to escape East Coast winters. One daughter died from the strain of the move, one daughter moved to Billings, MT, and her son moved to Reno. Adele was moved to the California Chateau nursing center. After much apprehension on Komaiko's part, their one-hour weekly visit turned into several visits per week, and Adele became an integral part of Komaiko's life, even with a 50-year age difference. A feel-good book for people who enjoyed Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie (Doubleday, 1997).--Lisa S. Wise, Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A moving, enlightening, and humorous memoir of the friendship between two women, aged 44 and 94. Komaiko is divorced and childless, the author of 18 children's books, who, as a forever-young Dylan fan, fears aging and mortality. She finds that L.A., the "liposuction capital of the universe," is the wrong place in which to hit middle age. Burnt out and despairing for her lost youth, she decides to look her future in the eye and volunteers to "adopt" an elderly woman in a senior residence, to whom she pays regular visits. She's matched up with a blind woman in her 90s. But Adele is courageous, full of youthful enthusiasm and intelligence, and has a full "memory bank" that affords her a rich life of recollection: her mother worked with suffragette Susan B. Anthony and helped start the A&P company. But in this warm book about aging and friendship, Adele is most remarkable for reviving the spirits and youth of the woman who thought she would be comforting a lonely person waiting to die. Komaiko's sense of humor prevents the memoir from warming one's heart to the point of cardiac arrest, with earthy descriptions of the aged people she meets (she calls one woman "bulldozer in a muumuu"). The author begins by pitying and fearing these "people who had to give up their homes [and] waited to move into their plots," but she ends up coming often to see her new friend, who serves as inspiration and surrogate grandma. The memoir turns maudlin by the end ("doing for others is what makes life worth it"), but by then, we're every bit as hooked on Adele as Komaiko. The author rediscovers not only friendship, but romance as well. Komaiko has written a poignant memoir that turns despair into joy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786224302
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 275
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.81 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Leah Komaiko is the author of many popular books for kids, including the bestselling Annie Bananie and I Like the Music.

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Table of Contents

Part I A Fear of Aging
So Young to Be So Old 3
The Perfect Match 11
Leaving Your Home at Ninety 18
You Make Me Feel So Younger 28
Part II A Home for the Aging
Adele's Room 39
Armchair Traveling 44
Food Is It! 49
A Gentleman Caller 54
In with the In Crowd 61
Memory Is a Miracle 66
Teeth and Other Things That Come Out at Night 72
The New Roommate 76
Remembering Sex 82
The California Chateau Great Western Family Barbecue 87
A Class on Current Events 94
The Sing-Along 100
Why Am I Still Here? 106
Walking with a Purse Full of Treasures 114
All Dolled Up at the Beauty Parlor 120
George Clooney, Scabies, and Incarceration of the Elderly 125
Halloween 133
Turning Ninety-Four 139
Part III A Coming of Aging
Time Is on Its Side 147
The Ghost of Christmas Future 155
True Friends 163
Can I Live with You? 168
One Age Fits All 177
Am I Old Yet? 185
Sources: Volunteering to Be a Friend 191
Acknowledgments 195
About the Author 197
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