Life in a Senior Residence Community is challenging and cherished.

Posts tagged ‘California’

Gently Go the Days

About 80 of us live in this senior residence. I, at 87, am a bit older than some, our ages ranging from mid-sixties to ninety-nine. Most of us are women, with several couples living here as well as a few single men. I look to see what we have in common, why this  particular group shares this address. If a guest wanders along the path and stops to ask if I know her friend, she might say, “Her name is Mary and she has short grey hair.” As I write this, I can think of three Marys and they all have short grey hair. Actually, Mary or not, most of us have short grey hair. Surely there is something more we have in common.

Joanie is a peppy little lady of almost 89 who has lived at Friends house for over three years. Last week, her visiting daughter asked me if I like living here and I told her, “Yes, and even though I miss my friends in Santa Cruz County, I enjoy new friendships here. I’m still trying to figure out what makes this group unique.”

She had an immediate answer. “During my adult life, I have lived in a small town and have participated in civic groups, charity groups, PTAs, and church groups. I have noticed that when volunteers are needed, the same three people raise their hands. I think those people who raised their hands move to Friends House. No wonder you all get so much done!”

She may be right. Unlike other residences for the elderly, our management does not organize the musicians, speakers, and events. We residents do. One Sunday afternoon a month, bright-eyed Betsy introduces a concert in the library. On most Tuesday and Thursday evenings, speakers entertain and inform us. Mostly the speakers are from “outside,” but occasionally one of us  speaks. We tell of our lives. I have told of walking across the United States in 1986 and of publishing Walking for Our Lives.about the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament. 

Harriet and her library committee manage the books that are contributed. Phyllis, who moved in last spring, gave 27 boxes of books. Some were added to the library, some contributed to Friends of the (downtown) Library, and some sold on Amazon. Two years ago, the funds from Amazon sales purchased a 12-passenger bus.

Nancy, an artist, moved in about the same time as Joanie. Nancy is responsible for the art exhibits along the one long hallway at Friends House. She and I go to visit local artists and ask if they would hang about 20 of their pieces for two months. We explain that their work probably will not sell because we residents have very limited wall-space in our units, but their paintings will be much admired and appreciated. Every artist we have asked has said yes.

These activities require many meetings and I generally avoid meetings. If I miss something important, someone will tell me, or I can read the minutes posted in the library. Lately I’ve attended meetings to learn how and what people here think.

One of my favorite committees, the ripe-fruit-picking committee, doesn’t have any meetings. I was asked to join because I am tall and can reach up without falling over. As the fruit ripens on our 100 trees, Ruth comes by with a couple of buckets and some clippers. “Want to pick fruit with me?” I most often do. Plums, peaches, pears, apples, pomegranates, persimmons, guavas and more are arranged on outdoor tables scattered about the property and anyone who wishes may take what they need. Joanie has baked apple cake from our apples and offered it to residents at breakfast.

Joanie’s daughter is right, we raise our hands when asked. We are busy. Busy, but not harried. We have time to attend exercise and Chi Gong and Memory Enhancement. We take naps and sit on benches in the sunshine. We have time to care about each other. Our days are gentle and sweet.

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Once Upon a Time, There Was a Woman

Once upon a time, a woman of advanced years decided to celebrate her birthday, which fell on September 21, as does International Day of Peace, in a new way. Instead of her family gathering to sing and eat cake, she decided to accept an invitation from the Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, CA, 241 miles north of her home, to speak about her book, Walking For Our Lives, which is about Peace Walks she had taken when she was merely 59.  Connie, her tent-mate from the first walk, lived in nearby Ft. Bragg and invited her Quaker friends. They eagerly accepted and staged a peace presence on the sidewalk outside the store 30 minutes before the book reading.

Inside, seated in rows and standing, people listened, asked thoughtful questions, made wishes for peace and clapped when the birthday girl blew out the candles. One of the woman’s sons had driven four hours, offered to video the book reading, helped serve the cake and glimpsed the woman’s passion for peace through writing.

The next morning, driving to Santa Rosa to visit another son, the woman stopped by Gowan’s Gravenstein Apple Stand to buy 40 pounds for applesauce, her traditional Christmas gift to family members.

In Santa Rosa, a third son showed up for a long leisurely Saturday lunch and conversation about the past year he had spent in Addis Ababa helping Save The Children.

Sunday morning, the woman arrived at Unity church, set up her book display, and was a guest speaker at  the service. After church, the woman led a three hour memoir-writing workshop.

Monday morning, she drove back toward her home, but stopped on the way to have lunch with a daughter-in-law and showed her the 40 pounds of lovely fragrant apples.

Tuesday and Wednesday, the woman made applesauce and thanked her lucky stars that she had decided to drive to Mendocino to celebrate her 85th birthday in a new way.

On the Road – Again!

The Northwest Book Tour is upon us! Next Tuesday, May 8, my publisher/friend Patricia Hamilton and I will pack up the Ford and head north. We have the itinerary with our events in place so if you are in Portland, Bainbridge, Deadwood, or Florence when we are, I’d love to see you! (more…)

California! Nevada!

Twenty six years ago we were camped on BLM land within sight of Whiskey Pete’s across the California-Nevada border.

The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, 1200 people strong,  left Los Angeles amid great fanfare on March 1, 1986. Eleven days later in the Mojave Desert, about ten miles west of Barstow, the founding organization declared bankruptcy and told us it was over. “Go home.” Eight hundred did just that, but four hundred of us stayed. After a surprisingly genius reorganization of people and money and some desperate fundraising, we got our feet under us (pun intended!) and started walking. We walked fifteen miles each day, our little tent village of 400 moving toward Washington, DC, step by step. (more…)

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