Carol was sitting in Verdi Park relaxing and enjoying the summer sunshine I said hello and sat down next to her (at the other end of the bench.) I told her that I have been vaccinated and asked if she had been vaccinated. She said, "of course I have been vaccinated, I am a retired psychiatrist. I believe in science even if half of the idiots on cable news do not."
Carol is 89 years old, born and raised in New York City. I asked her about being retired. She said the only reason she is retired is that her arthritis is severe and interfered with her ability to work as an artist. I said, artist? I thought you said you were a psychiatrist? She said she was, and that she was also an artist. She refused to say what kind of an artist and what work she had done. She did work in Mount Sinai Hospital as a geriatric psychiatrist for many years. She had trained at Hillside Hospital in Queens. I mentioned to her that I too was a student at Hillside Hospital in 1970 in the then Boy's Adolescent Pavilion.
She had been at Hillside before me. I asked her if she knew of the CAPE mental health program in Little Neck, Queens, New York City? She did know of it but did not recognize my wife's name (Jane Bardavid) who had been the director of the program for 32 years.
Carol said she loved being an artist. It was not only a passion for her but helped her deal with the craziness of working with difficult patients. When her husband died, she left her profession and focused on her art. However, being widowed and having no children, she was lonely and unhappy living, in Manhattan. She does not like living here. It is dirty and noisy. She feels that most of the people are rude and she feels lonely and ignored as she shops and walks the sidewalks. She feels that most people look past her as if she does not exist. She wishes she could get back to her art (whatever that may be.) Then she believes she would feel that she has purpose and meaning in this world.
Carol was most animated when talking about New York City and State politics, especially Mayor DeBlasio whom she dislikes intensely. But, there is no motivation for her to move out of the city. She has friends here and fears that another venue would simply leave her feeling even more isolated than she does now. When I asked her if there was anything that she likes about the city, she said most things are accessible with easy shopping. She loves Lincoln Center for its culture which of course has been closed for more than a year and a half.
I asked if she could take off her sunglasses for the photos, I believe it is important to focus on a person's eyes when photographing them. However, Carol refused to remove her sunglasses.
Carol said that she does get out every day, weather permitting. However, even the bustling diversity of the City and its easy access to the art world does not seem to help put a positive spin on her life. Carol has decided to grow older in a city that she does not feel is good for her.