The kitchen, the living room, the bathroom , the bedroom – these have been my work spaces for the past 8 years. There we have worked on skills for the job of living and there I have listened to their stories. My heroes were not found on the football field, in the movies or in an exceptional piece of art but in their own homes with the precious memories of a lifetime.
There was “Wilma”, orphaned at the age of 9 who took care of 2 younger siblings until she was old enough to get a “real job”. These three children survived in a house on their own, dependent on strangers leaving them food on their doorstep or showing up at church reunions, hoping for a handout. Now she deals with a colostomy, but at 93, she’s not giving up yet.
Then there’s “Robert” who found himself on the deck of a World War II ship at the age of 19 with an anti-aircraft gun in his hand, fighting for his life. Now at 89, he has recently relocated to an assisted living facility after being independent and living alone at home. He has many stories to tell if you care to listen.
I see the indomitable spirit of “Lucy” who is legally blind from macular degeneration but remains in her own home and still uses her computer for e-mail. In her 80’s, she has hired a personal trainer to help her with her exercise program and a part-time housekeeper/companion for errands. Her walls are covered with beautiful art work she can no longer see, but she knows they are there and she can describe them to me yet. These exceptional seniors are my heroes, unknown to the world, but ready to share their wisdom if you choose to seek them out.
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