Age only matters if you let it, as Mark Twain once observed. Barbara Paskoff, 77, of Roslyn and Carol Pack, 71, of Westbury, have made it their mission to prove this in what they have dubbed their second lives.
“Book of Lists” is the fourth entry in the duo’s “Over-Sixty: Shades of Gray” series. In their newest project, the two combine humor and vital information in easy-to-consume lists.
“As you get older, time starts to fly really fast. All of a sudden, you realize that you don’t have time for all of this,” joked Pack. “You just want to cut to the chase. If I pick up articles now to read, I just want to see it in bullet points. I don’t want to have to read everything that goes around to support it. Just give me a list of what to do.”
In particular, the two tackle life’s challenges and joys through the lens of growing older. These result in practical tips about appearance, relationships, entertainment and more.
“Trying to end a relationship with your partner, friend or anyone in your life that is causing you more angst than joy is never easy,” the two write. “You might say to yourself, ‘Well, just like a pimple on my ass, I’ll get used to it’ just to avoid the discomfort of breaking up. But why should you?”
But as fast as the couple injects humor into their work, they also take on serious subjects like eating disorders, loneliness and death. Paskoff said they seek to reassure readers they are not alone in the trials that come with aging.
“Look at the comedians who grew up in a very depressed, dysfunctional household,” she said. “They make jokes. It’s their form of survival. It’s easy to get something serious across when you just add an ingredient of humor because it’s going to be accepted more freely and easily.”
Pack is a member of the Press Club of Long Island’s Hall of Fame and has published several works of fiction. Paskoff is a founding partner of Envision Productions Inc., and has produced and written medical and public affairs programs for PBS and other cable networks.
The two met in 1988 at the cable news station of the New York Institute of Technology: Long Island News Tonight. Paskoff joined the graduate school broadcast program and worked with Pack until 1991 when she got her master’s degree in communication arts.
“Barbara was a returning student going back for a master’s degree,” Pack said about their friendship. “So we were closer in age and we just had a lot in common. I think it’s amazing that we waited, I don’t know, 20 or 30 years to actually write a book together.”
In 2019, there were 54.1 million Americans age 65 and up, according to the Administration for Community Living. The duo wants to increase awareness of this group, ageism and how it affects them.
“We happen to represent the very rich demographic for people who are over 60,” said Paskoff. “It’s a shame as far as ageism goes that they are not revered more here like they are in other countries.”
To Paskoff and Pack, “Book of Lists” illustrates that age is only a number. The two authors handled the writing, publication, computer work and public relations for all of their books. They both described it as more than a second career, but as a second chance at life.
“The bottom line here is you’re never too old to reinvent yourself,” said Paskoff. “And the more you do it, the more active you stay, the better it is for you because it keeps you engaged.”
“Book of Lists” comes out Oct. 25. One can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and SmashWords.