I met two amazing women this week. The first was Margarite, 104.
She lived independently in her own home until she was 102 years old. Her children suggested that it might be time for her to move to a community. After some trepidation, she reports that it was a great decision.
She is a very attractive woman, but her quick wit and memory are most impressive. His only problem is a knee injury that his doctor refuses to operate on at his age. Staff call on her regularly to visit new residents who are having difficulty adjusting.
Margarite is a fountain of positivity and says kindly, “They just need a little attitude adjustment!”
She was born in the pandemic year of 1918. Her father was a pilot in World War I. She had nine brothers and three sisters, and she is the only remaining sister. She writes her memoirs in a spiral notebook between the needlepoint Christmas stockings for her little dogs. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren already have their stockings.
Spending the afternoon with her was like stepping into a history book and seeing it come to life. I can’t wait to visit her again – she told me to come with lots of questions.
The second inspiration came from meeting my new neighbor Marion. She’s a vivacious, sophisticated, sharp-edged woman, but the most significant fact is that she’s a Holocaust survivor.
Our time together was limited, but she mentioned that she had written a book, “Lonely Chameleon: Memoir of a Child Holocaust Survivor.” I’ve since bought and read her book, and I feel like I know her pretty well.
She was a child when the Germans invaded Poland. When it became clear that her family was in grave danger, her parents sent her to live in hiding with a Christian couple. However, when neighbors betrayed them, she was delivered to a Catholic orphanage in the middle of the night.
After the bombing of the orphanage, there were a series of placements, always fearing that it would be discovered that she was Jewish. Remarkably, his father survived a death camp, although his mother, siblings, and extended family were all killed.
After the liberation, he was able to reunite with his daughter, and eventually they emigrated to Canada and then to America. Her story is heartbreaking and tortuous, but today she is a vigorous Elder with a powerful story to tell.
Although I spend more time with these two women and learn from them, I realize that these mentors live around us all the time.
What better way to be educated than from a living history book!
If you’re inclined, you could skip the library this week and visit a retirement community just around the corner.
Find Connie’s book, “Daily Cures: Wisdom for Healthy Aging,” at www.justnowoldenough.com.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Women Inspire: 104-Year-Old Spiritual Leader, Author, Holocaust Survivor