Traveling Around the World in 2-D: A Granddaughter’s Project

In retirement, my grandfather, Pop Pop, traveled the world with my grandmother. They went to Greece, China, Peru, Portugal — you name it. They’d spent years running a small business and raising three kids, so retirement was their chance to get away and see it all. And for many years, they did, thanks to good health and a smart savings plan. But little did they know that life after 65 would last so long — an absolute blessing, but also …

Paying Tribute to an Ancestor Extraordinaire

Deborah Williams of Richfield, Minn., never got to meet her grandfather, Harry Henry Hill. But she knows his story: The black boy who lost his parents in the late 1800s and left school at age 12 became a single dad to six — count ’em, six — daughters and raised them on his own during a period of intense racial discrimination and prejudice against African Americans. Williams’ compelling story about her beloved grandfather is the winner of AARP’s Tribute to …

Intergenerational Selfies With a Purpose

A selfie can’t change the world — or can it, just a little? That’s the hope behind two social media campaigns right now: Grantmakers in Aging’s #GenTogether and Age UK’s #NotByMySelfie. My heart did a dance when I spotted them on Twitter this month. They’re certainly not the first nonprofits to mobilize people via personal snaps, but they’re the first I’ve seen to honor intergenerational connection this way. They’re calling for friends, families, neighbors, coworkers and caregivers of all ages …

Tracing a Family Tree, From Harlem to China

Paula Williams Madison is the epitome of success: Vassar College grad, award-winning journalist, former TV executive, entrepreneur, community activist. But the Harlem native was also driven toward another goal — finding more about the Chinese grandfather she never knew. Madison, 62, details her multicultural family odyssey in her new book, Finding Samuel Lowe, due April 14. A documentary by the same name is making its rounds at film festivals, including a recent screening at the International Black History Month celebration …

How to Talk About Death … and Life

Many Americans, it seems, have a hard time talking about death. Even doctors struggle to deal with the mortality of patients who they know aren’t going to make it. That’s the focus of Being Mortal: Conversations of Death and Dying, Atul Gawande’s adaptation of his bestselling book to a Frontline segment that begins airing Feb. 10 on PBS platforms. A surgeon and writer, Gawande chalks up doctors’ fears to their sense of professional competence. In gaining experience, “Among the most …

In Memoriam — Al Martinez: More Than a Life Well-Lived

His voice was deep; his soul was too. His humor made you rock with laughter; his insight rocked your world. I never got to squeeze Al Martinez’s hand or give him a hug, though I often wanted to. We lived six hours apart, but when we talked by phone, Al, who died Jan. 12, was in my living room, sitting next to my desk. We laughed at each other’s jokes and exchanged sometimes thoughtful, sometimes silly emails about the topics …