Endnotes: An Intimate Look at the End of Life

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In the summer of 1996, Ruth Ray, a gerontologist in her forties, befriended an eighty-two-year-old man suffering from Parkinson's. The two remained close until the end of his life, sharing stories and memories while building a deep relationship. Part memoir, part biography, Endnotes explores how people construct meaning through their interactions with others. With grace and wit, Ray situates her friend's past experiences and present relationships within the theories and literature of gerontology, providing a deeper understanding of autonomy at the end of life. She also delves into the complexities of sexuality and intimacy in old age, communication across disabilities and age groups, the disabling nature of nursing homes, and the trials of death and dying. Writing as both a woman and a gerontologist, Ray finds that the "quality of care" we provide for others requires not only an understanding of the relationships that have given a person's life meaning but also a willingness to accept and share deeply in the emotional process of physical and mental decline.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Ageing & Society - Margaretta Jolly
A riveting reminder of what happens when a feminist refigures the politics of sex, age and death.
Journal of Gerontological Social Work - Elaine T. Jurkowski
A wonderful insider's view of the needs and internal struggles one faces during the last leg of life's journey.
Ageing & Society
A riveting reminder of what happens when a feminist refigures the politics of sex, age and death.

— Margaretta Jolly

Journal of Gerontological Social Work
A wonderful insider's view of the needs and internal struggles one faces during the last leg of life's journey.

— Elaine T. Jurkowski

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231144612
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 6/23/2008
  • Series: End of Life Care: A Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth E. Ray teaches writing, composition theory, and women's studies at Wayne State University. She serves on the board of trustees of the Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization that operates a Center for Creative Aging, and she is co-founder of communityengagement@wayne.edu, which supports community-based research and teaching, including projects on creative aging and intergenerational learning. She is the author of Beyond Nostalgia: Aging and Life-Story Writing and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Aging Studies.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Passionate Scholarship2. Home3. Making Ourselves Understood4. New Year's Eve5. A Lamentable Situation6. Those Little Ordinary Things7. Passion's Progress8. Activities9. Diaper Is a Dirty Word10. Care Conference11. Empty Rooms12. Ethics of CareEpilogueAcknowledgments

Columbia University Press

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