It is hard for me to remember a time that I didn’t love art.
In fact, I have been pencil sketching since I was a kid. Ironically enough, I used to draw pictures of airplanes. Little did I know that after college graduation, I would become a pilot—a profession that would take my sketching skills to new heights.
I flew for Pan American Airways. Traveling internationally for a living, I never left home without my sketchpad. It was my companion during layovers. Together, we ventured to some of the most stunning cities around the world. Sketching primarily with charcoal pencils, I captured the beauty of churches in Frankfort, the Opera House in Vienna, Ireland landscapes and street scenes in Warsaw, Africa and Tokyo.
When you’ve spent most of your life learning to make a living, how do you make the transition to learning for the simple sake of learning?
For many people older than 50, that’s a familiar situation.
As a result of the learning we’ve done so far, we have been able to provide for our families. But, after a certain age at which we no longer have to worry as much about making a living, or our nest is empty, we may face the question: What do we do now?
When I arrived at Luther Crest in 2011, at the age of 76, I had no idea I’d end up writing a book. But it was, after all, a period of starting over.
I had lived in New York State all of my life before my move and had experienced numerous new beginnings: leaving my parents’ home to marry; moving from Brooklyn to Long Island as a young mother; getting divorced; meeting my life partner and moving to his home; retiring from my job as a social worker in the domestic violence field; seeing my partner through his final illness and then moving into a kind of transitional housing situation until Dan the Moving Man carried me off to my new, and probably final, destination, Luther Crest.
I was happy and excited about starting over again.
I loved my small apartment, crammed too full of precious items from my past lives, and I was excited by the novelty of no longer having to eat solitary dinners in front of the TV.
The deepest learning often happens when students are able to connect the classroom experience with the “real world.” Our winter-term partnership with Manatawny Manor for a project called “Storied Lives” allowed my students to put a face to our learning and make it personal.
My students and their residents cried together and laughed together; they exchanged personal stories, shared life advice, and sat in thoughtful silence together; they held hands and emotionally embraced each other. Their interactions were emblematic of a deep connection that these partnerships built over the course of seven weeks.
What images or feelings come to mind when you hear that term? Is retirement something you anticipate? Or something you fear?
As with many topics, retiring means different things to different people. For some older adults, retirement means more freedom and the ability to focus on activities for which there was little time in the past. For others, however, retirement can sometimes represent a break with familiar ties and a resulting sense of isolation.
With these thoughts in mind, we asked some of the residents at Luther Crest, a Diakon senior living community in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to tell us a few things they learned about retirement and how their daily routines and life in general changed.
If there is one common thread, it’s the idea life is what you make it and that activities such as volunteering and taking up interests for which there was limited time in the past can be key to successful later years.
Should we move?
How can I possibly begin to downsize?
What will I do if my health declines?
As older adults consider options in retirement, they often have questions and concerns. One of the major questions concerns where they should live. We asked admissions staff at a variety of Diakon Senior Living Communities for their input on the topic. Here are their combined answers: