We can learn a lot from “old” people

running on the beach, sunrise
It’s a new day. Get moving.

By Bruce Stambaugh

When I turned 70, I received lots of celebratory wishes and unsolicited advice. Like a 70-year-old needs advice.

One ditty was the seven and 70 rule. The idea is that seven-year-olds will say anything, and 70 year-olds have earned the right by default to espouse whatever they want. Clearly, I didn’t know or obey that tenet. Wanted or not, I’ve been offering my opinions my entire life.

Nevertheless, I’ve done a lot of thinking since hitting that personal milestone. I feel fortunate, grateful, honored, humbled as I review my life. I have many, many kind people to thank for giving me challenges I didn’t think I could meet, opportunities I never expected, and critiquing I didn’t want to hear but definitely needed. To steal a movie title, it’s been a wonderful life.

Best of all, life continues, but for how long? None of us really knows for sure. As the saying goes, embrace each day as if it were your last. It just might be.

That somber thought used to bother me, scare me even. As a teenager, I thought I’d live forever. I know that’s not going to happen. I read the obituaries every morning, and I find the life summaries of too many people my age or younger.

Death where is thy sting? Many a sermon has already been preached on that topic. I won’t add to that litany.

Instead, I want to share a purposeful phenomenon that seems to resonate with many seniors. Generally speaking, we’re not afraid of death anymore.

After I retired as a public educator, I began my second career in community relations and marketing at a retirement community near my former Ohio home. I wasn’t there long until a common philosophy became apparent among the residents. As they aged, they were happier in their lives, despite increased physical and mental afflictions, reduced agility, and less energy overall. I recently learned that gerontologists confirm these observations. As people’s bodies decline, instead of feeling worse about themselves, they feel better.

horse and buggy
What’s around the corner?
Given their settings and expected elderly ailments, logic would dictate the opposite. Why had death indeed lost its sting for them? In general, they needed less in life and from life. They had given their all and were genuinely happy for that. Also, they looked forward to what they called “going home.”

Regrets? Sure, they had a few, just as I do. But that alone could not deter their enthusiasm for whatever came their way. They still expressed anxiety about all of life’s catastrophes they saw on TV, in the newspapers, and online.

But these were folks who had survived The Great Depression, who knew the value of work, being thrifty, conserving for the future and for future generations. They may not have liked many of the social changes that flew in the face of what they believed. But for the most part, neither did they let that bother them or think less of those who behaved or felt differently than they did. Their knowledge and experience taught them that. In my book, that is the very definition of wisdom.

I admired their gumption, fortitude, love of life, and their focus on being in the presence of each moment. They were ready for whatever came next. I’m trying my best to model that attitude, too, to my wife, my family, my friends, my neighbors, to whomever I meet.

Like my octogenarian friends at the retirement community, I’m ready for the next chapter of my life to unfold, one day, one person, one event, one glorious sunrise, one breathtaking sunset at a time.

Florida, sunset, Amelia River
Even at life’s low tide beauty abounds.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

Seniors prove that art is ageless

Star Light Star Brigh quilt by Bruce Stambaugh
Betty Hofstetter of Millersburg, Ohio won Best of Show at the Art is Ageless exhibit held at Walnut Hills Retirement Community, Walnut Creek, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

The first art show held by Walnut Hills Retirement Community in Walnut Creek, Ohio lived up to its billing. The “Art is Ageless” exhibit attracted 54 area artists who entered 117 pieces in the event held August 27 at Walnut Hills Retirement Home.

“We were very pleased in every aspect,” said Paula Miller, community relations coordinator at Walnut Hills. She estimated more than 300 people viewed the first-time art show.

“We were happy with the number of seniors who entered and the high quality of their work,” Miller said. To qualify for exhibiting at the show, entrants had to have completed the work they submitted for judging when they were at least 55 years old.

Art is Ageless by Bruce Stambaugh
More than 300 people viewed the 117 pieces of artwork entered in the Art is Ageless exhibit.

The various art pieces were displayed in the spacious common areas of the retirement home. The award winners in five different categories were announced at a reception for participants and their family held in the evening of August 26.

A large, vividly colored and finely stitched quilt by Betty Hofstetter of Millersburg was judged as Best of Show. Hofstetter said the quilt, titled “Star Light, Star Bright,” was done from a Jane Martin pattern.

First place winners by category included:

Hard Crafts – Wooden Jewelry Box by Richard Schubert, of Walnut Creek.

Soft Crafts – A quilt titled “Second Hand Rose” by Joyce Tomcho, of Walnut Creek.

Paintings and Drawings – A watercolor titled “River Run” by Marian Stambaugh, of Walnut Creek.

Photography – A color photograph of Mt. McKinley by Randy Starner, of Sugarcreek

Miscellaneous – “Fuchsia and Pink Garden Necklace” by Juanita Schubert, of Walnut Creek.

The People’s Choice Award, voted on by patrons who viewed the exhibit, went to Tomcho for her quilt titled, “Woodland Creatures.”

Jeremy Kauffman, administrator at Walnut Hills, said his staff was a little nervous about holding an art show. In addressing a crowd of 100 people at the artists’ reception, Kauffman said, “We hoped we would get enough entries just to have a show.” The response to the exhibit showed that they did not have to worry.

“I had no idea that there were this many talented people here,” Kauffman said.

In explaining why Walnut Hills held the art show, Kauffman said, “Creativity is one of our values.” He said they wanted to host a venue to display the artistry of area residents.

Miller said the staff was “just thrilled” with the response to the show.

“It took a lot of work from staff members and community volunteers to make it happen,” she said. “But it was definitely worth it.”

Kauffman said they plan on making the “Art is Ageless” exhibit an annual event.

Walnut Hills by Bruce Stambaugh
Jeremy Kauffman, administrator at Walnut Hills Retirement Community in Walnut Creek, Ohio, address the senior artists and their guests.

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