Eugenie Carmel Gazal is no stranger to work and struggle. In this brief video, she describes how her mother’s example inspired her to start a second career late in life.

I’ve always been a positive person and have tried to reinvent myself with each new experience in life, especially the difficult ones. My mother, Olga, who was widowed at forty-four with a family of girls, taught me the power of resilience and that gender was no barrier in achieving what we want in life. Born in 1890, Olga was a true-blue feminist and wanted her girls to be powerful, professional people. So instead of withdrawing from the world, which can happen following the loss of loved ones, through the encouragement of my children, I embarked on a new journey into the world. In 1987, at the age of twenty-four, my plucky daughter Julianne purchased a travel agency franchise. Within a year, I was her right-hand woman, having retrained as a travel agent. It was quite a departure from my training as a classical violinist, yet being a travel agent felt as naturally to me as performing in an orchestra. My family and I still chuckle about the fact that I was the only sixty-year-old student while my peers in the various travel courses were babes at only eighteen.

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Angela Martínez Morales

DeathIn my 72 years, I’ve learned to live a life of tranquility and love. God has given me plenty of life. He has given me life to do something for others, to serve in all that I can, because God gives us all gifts that we discover through understanding and discernment. Yes, serving others is God’s reward.

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Klaartje Merrigan

LoveI had been without a partner for three years and saw many of my peers getting married, having children, and settling down. I was scared and felt like I was running out of time. I confided my fears to my grandmother on one of the many Sunday afternoons I spent with her. When I told her that it felt as if it was too late for me to settle down, she laughed out loud, joyfully, kindly. ‘You have all the time in the world, my dear. You are so young. What do you want in a partner? Look for that, and don’t settle for less. You have all the time in the world.’

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Guri Rygg

DeathI was 10 or 11, and I thought Grandma was ancient. (She was probably about 60 at the time!) I thought it was time to ask whether she was afraid of death, since she was so old. Grandma looked at me and laughed a little to herself. She sat and thought. Then she asked, ‘Have you been inside Nidaros Cathedral?’ Of course I had been there, I said.

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Margaret O’Reilly

HopeAs a young child, Margaret O’Reilly learned a hard lesson about the importance of always telling the truth and sticking to it. In this video she shares the most important thing she’d like young people to know. [Margaret O’Reilly] And the thing that I would pass on to the children now is don’t ever tell a lie because you have to keep on lying to undo the bad you’ve done. If you tell the truth and stick to it, people will eventually believe you.

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Robert Hamilton

StruggleTimes of struggle challenge us to be honest with ourselves. They help us recognize when we are trying to rationalize something we want or want to avoid instead of concentrating on what is the right or just thing to do. The hardest lesson can be overcoming fear—fear of failure, fear of personal loss, fear of embarrassment—because decisions informed by fear almost always lead to the worst results. Faith in what is right and true and just must be the guiding principle.

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Desmond O’Grady, SJ

StruggleDesmond O’Grady is a Jesuit priest who served in many prominent positions throughout Ireland. He was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He shares what living with the disease has taught him and how it has changed the way he lives life. In this audio clip, he discusses understanding and accepting his limitations. [Desmond O’Grady, SJ] Oh yeah, I mean the anxiety at the early stages was high. Not being able to remember, yeah, not being able to remember that either in detail, but I know that there was a time of considerable confusion when I’d be saying, ‘I know how to get places!’ Like finding directions. I’m a Dubliner, born and bred, lived here all my life. I love walking around the city. Now I can’t. Someone says to me, ‘How do I get to Mespil Road?’ and I say, ‘Oh Mespil Road, oh yeah.’ And I would find I couldn’t do it. I know I know, but I can’t articulate it. And that upsets me, and sometimes then I feel that I don’t want to admit it. So that upsets me even more. But I’m getting used to that.

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