Last night I got a very excited phone message from my mother and when I called her back she said, “I just wanted to tell you my news! I’ve been elected unanimously to be the Chairman of the Residents’ Council at Treemont (the retirement community she lives in)!”
She added that it meant a lot of responsibility and that she was going to ask another friend to be her secretary so they could keep track of all the things that needed to be taken care of. What was most important for me about this conversation was to hear the energy and purposefulness in her voice, and feel the enthusiasm she has about living up to this challenge.
I’ve mentioned before that my mom just turned 85. My dad passed away three years ago, and it took Mom a while to regroup, after having been with one person in a very involved, fulfilling relationship for over 62 years. She had many days of a sort of listlessness and I was concerned about her.
And now here she is, excited and committed and ready to work. Actually, she’s been playing that role for a while, and the directors of the community had the good sense to give it a title by creating the Council, and giving her the proper recognition for the ways she has stepped up to participate in enhancing the lives of the other residents.
This is one of the best examples I can cite of being a Life Entrepreneur. It isn’t about age, it is about purpose, focus and the willingness to do what it takes to live the way you choose to live. It also adds proof to my theory that our basic characters stay the same throughout our lives, what changes is how we perceive things and thus how we manage our lives based on those perceptions.
When my dad died, it was both a loss and a relief for my mom. He had been progressively sicker from cancer for the last five years, and Mom had taken the brunt of the care, only hiring round the clock help the last few months. She was exhausted and disoriented to not have her life consumed by caring for her husband.
That first year she sort of muddled through, even went on a cruise with some friends, but found that she didn’t feel that connected to them, and started having medical issues and going from doctor to doctor to figure things out. She took a downturn at the end of the first year and almost died from a devastating illness. We spent the next 6 months bringing her back to life, and after learning to talk, walk, eat and think for herself again, she moved into the community of other seniors (after living in my house for over five months, we both decided we preferred our independence).
It took a year for her to get comfortable there–and I so admired her willingness to organize and join up with bridge groups, learn to play word games, participate in the choir, volunteer to help the new activities director welcome new residents and decorate for the weekly parties they have to keep people interested and involved. My mom is a trooper, and her enthusiasm proved contageous.
So here she is, a Life Entrepreneur at 85, carving out her path and looking forward to each day. What an inspiration!