Wilma Jane pushed her walker to her place at the head of the table in this, her 89th year. Rail thin at five feet and looking, in the words of

Wilma Jane pushed her walker to her place at the head of the table in this, her 89th year. Rail thin at five feet and looking, in the words of her middle-aged nieces and nephews, like “death warmed over,” she hosted a yearly family dinner at her daughter Mary’s house. Mary, divorced with two grown daughters, served until recently as a temporary foster parent for medically fragile infants and young children while they awaited placement in a permanent foster home. Mary’s work with these children, which went on for twenty years, was Wilma Jane’s favorite charity; it was she who provided the money to subsidize Mary’s foster-care operation. As the guests raised their wine glasses in a toast to what the future might bring the family, Wilma Jane’s (slightly) younger brother Bernie muttered something about the despair that came with getting old, knowing that his life was nearing its end and that there was no time left to “find meaning in his life.” Bernie never married, although years ago he was quite taken with Sheila, a hot-blooded redhead who left him for a dentist when he wouldn’t make up his mind whether to marry her or not. Since then Sheila was a sore topic with Bernie; he dated other women, but none of them held the allure that Sheila had. So after a while Bernie immersed himself in his law practice with the belief that money was life’s report card, the measure of a man’s life. Bernie had done well in life as a lawyer, buying up commercial properties and dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s for the landlords downtown. A winner among men, he amassed a small fortune in his 35 years of practicing law and retired to live alone at age 60 and pursue his passions of fly-fishing and photography. A self-styled curmudgeon, he took pride in his investments and shunned community involvement. He didn’t like young people and voted against a public transportation measure because, in his words, “It was mostly kids who rode the bus.” Wilma Jane and Bernie are at the final stage of their lives, dealing with the last crisis that life has to offer. visit these Web sites to learn about Erik Erikson’s theory of self and discuss how Wilma Jane and her brother Bernie will face, and resolve, this final crisis of their lives.

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