When I met Bianca about one and a half years ago, she had just finished sawing a limb off a tree outside her house. She also mentioned that she still drives by herself three times a year to visit her daughter in Massachusetts.

“I am happy that I am healthy and active and have the ability to do everything I have always enjoyed. I sometimes spend three hours gardening, and I still like to sew. I exercise five days a week at the ‘Y,’ doing senior aerobics and working out with weights. There is still so much I want to read and learn about. I have not fully embraced the computer although I watch TV on the computer and do email. I feel a sense of contentment to some degree; I am not a big worrier.

I am a very social person, and go out with friends as young as 55 or 60. It is somewhat difficult to make new friends at this age, unless you really have something in common. I have made good friends in my prayer group because we had the same needs when we joined. One of my daughters and my granddaughter live close by, and I see my daughter every Sunday. I feel very good about my relationship with my children.

I have enjoyed life tremendously. I have travelled a lot and have had good friends. But during the summer I experienced the deaths of three people close to me within two and a half months. All of my old friends are gone.

The most important thing to me now is keeping healthy, and I work at it to some degree. I go to see my doctors, am religious about taking my medicine, and I get a lot of exercise.

I worked for an insurance company for 41 years. I worked until last year. I miss work and I miss the people. But having to drive there every day prevented me from continuing to work. However I still drive to visit my daughter in Massachusetts and I can drive at night.

I consider myself to be religious. I do more now with the church than when my husband was alive. I attend the Episcopal Church every week. Our new pastor has a series called ‘Following Christ’ that I attend, and I joined a prayer group.

Over the years I have become more liberal, a more independent thinker. I am accepting of gay marriage and I support stem cell research and the right to abortion.

Looking back, I do have some regrets about my life. I regret not getting a master’s degree; I would have gone further in studying sociology. I did the course work for my master’s but did not finish my final thesis. The war interfered with my education; everything changed completely after the war. In World War II I was a lieutenant in the WAVES. I also regret not making it to visit Switzerland. My mother was Swiss and I would have liked to see where she grew up.

I liked the world better 50 years ago. Life was so much easier. You never had to lock your door. I remember hobos coming to the back door in the 1920s. They weren’t dangerous. And it is harder to talk to a doctor now; they are always looking at the computer and hardly saying a word to you.

My advice for young people is: Be positive. Be careful. Be loving and thoughtful. Do something better than someone else could do.”