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.
A lot of other things were different, too. I no longer had an excuse not to exercise; there were all kinds of options available, including a swimming pool and water aerobics classes. I loved water aerobics but hadn’t attended for several years because there had been no classes nearby.
There also was a well-stocked library, interest groups, lectures by some of my learned fellow residents. Had I stumbled into heaven, or what? Well, perhaps some place more like a cruise ship.
When I went to my first meeting of the Luther Crest writers group, I was terrified. I hadn’t written anything that would be judged by others since I had finished classwork for various degrees and certifications I had taken over time.
I could hardly breathe, but the men and women in the group seemed pleased with what I had written; they actually laughed when they were supposed to! I was invited to submit my two pages to the Crest Chronicle for publication.
So that’s how my writing a book came to be.
The friends I met each month in the group were encouraging, sometimes even cajoling me to keep going.
And it began to seem to me that if I was having so much fun in my new environment, it would be nice to urge older adults everywhere to have fun whenever and wherever they could.
One of the most important things I’ve learned as an “old woman” has been to jump in to whatever interests me and have as much fun as I can along the way.
The responsibilities of mid-life can be soul-numbing, so leaving many of them behind opens the way to experiencing things as we did when we were children and the world was new.
A very old friend told me she read my book on her 80th birthday, when she was feeling depressed by the weight of years, so she started thinking about the joys she’s had along the way.
“It helped,” she said, and I’m glad. We’re going to be this old no matter what, so let’s have fun and thank God for it.
Luther Crest resident & author
Editor’s Note: Little Excursions in the Alternate Universe, by Helen Wernlund, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $14.95 plus tax. A portion of proceeds benefits the Luther Crest Benevolent Care Endowment Fund.
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