Recessional by James Michener

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The elders in the family crave for love and attention. They want to be heard, they want to interact with other people and they also want to be seen. They want to play a constructive role in society. At the same time, they would like a little space of their own.They have schemes like insurance, pension, and retirement benefits. There are also mobile home services for the elders so that they can avoid costly nursing homes. While these facilities take care of the material needs of the aged they cannot provide the love and warmth that they need the most in the last few years of their lives where they have to face many health problems both physical and psychological. With old age degeneration of the body’s systems sets in leading to complications and chronic long-term disease like depression, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, osteoarthritis of various joints, loss of hearing and so on. The elderly also face psychological problems like loss of memory, feeling of insecurity arising from financial difficulties, chronic pain, etc. Depression is the most common psychological problem of the aged. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are some other problems. As Hilma Wolitzer (1994) says, The world of old age is indeed weird, and terrifying, as autonomy diminishes along with physical and mental well-being.James Michener (1994), in his book, Recessional, addresses the multifarious issues linked to aging in America. Webster defines recessional as recession or withdrawal whereas the book’s epigraph says that a recessional is a hymn or other piece of music played at the end of a service while the congregation is filing out.Michener’s book Recessional refers to the inevitable recessional we all face towards the end of our lives. (check) In this novel, Michener uses his gift for storytelling, his understanding of American society, and his own life experiences to shed light on the challenges the aged face in our society.