Though some say 70 is the new 60, turning that age can often make people reflect on the stage of life they have reached. In the novella Goodnight, Ladies by Zane Hickcox Kotker ’56, we meet three women going through that process. In the opening chapters, we see how each one is dealing with the new decade: Nikki feels that if she just counts time by minutes, her time remaining will be like a “cosmic phone card of unspent millions”; Pru has reluctantly decided to move from a townhouse to a condo in her retirement community, but feels it’s where she’ll go to die; Chessa gets a rescue dog for company and names him after her college boyfriend. What these friends have in common is that they are all widows who have watched someone they love die. And moving on is difficult, lonely, and full of question.
Kotker weaves the stories of these three women with beautifully crafted, witty, and wry prose, and we are easily drawn into their poignant dilemmas, whether it’s trying out Match.com or discovering a newfound friend dead in her bathroom. By age 70, life lived and depth of memories stretch a long way into the past, and the future is only uncertainty, except for the knowledge that death awaits. With wisdom and courage, each of these women marches forward with a plan. Kotker deftly captures the essence of this stage of life, when time can become the enemy if you let it, or it can be a precious commodity to be savored.