This week’s Seekers of Meaning Podcast guest is Thomas R. Cole, author of the new book, Old Man Country: My Search for Meaning Among the Elders.
We aspire to live in a country where old men are celebrated as vital elders but not demeaned if they become ill and dependent. We aspire to maintain health as well as maintain dignity and fulfillment in frailty. Old Man Country helps readers see and imagine these possibilities for themselves.
The book follows the journey of a writer in search of wisdom, as he encounters twelve distinguished American men over 80 — including Paul Volcker, the former head of the Federal Reserve, and Denton Cooley, the world’s most famous heart surgeon. In these and other intimate conversations, the book explores and honors the particular way that each man faces four challenges of living a good old age: Am I still a man? Do I still matter? What is the meaning of my life? Am I loved? Readers will come to see how each man — even the most famous — faces universal challenges. Personal stories about work, love, sexuality, and hope mingle with stories about illness, loss and death. This book will strengthen each of us as we and our loved ones anticipate and navigate our way through the passages of old age.
About the Guest
Thomas R. Cole is the McGovern Chair and Director of the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. His work has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, and PBS. Cole has served as an advisor to the President’s Council on Bioethics and the United Nations NGO Committee on Ageing. His book The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Aging in America was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He is Senior Editor of The Oxford Book of Aging, which the New Yorker cited as one of the most memorable books of the year. Cole’s book No Color Is My Kind: the Life of Eldrewey Stearns and the Desegregation of Houston (1997) was adapted into the film, The Strange Demise of Jim Crow, which was broadcast nationally on over 60 PBS stations. In 2007, he co-produced Stroke: Conversations and Explanations, a prize-winning film about the invisible world of stroke survivors.