Monday, April 25, 2016

Music, Poetry and Health Foods Are the Secret

by Wilma Haines, resident at Wesley Palms Retirement Community

IF YOU WERE one of the forty-four members of my family, you could expect a poem I had written especially for you on your birthday, every year. These, along with other poems I have written, now fill two large notebooks. That would not be the only time you heard from me, either. Over the years I have mailed Wilma's Weekly to them and my journals fill 42 books. They are in cursive writing which is not taught now. I think it is important to keep in touch.

My husband, Roger, and I were married for 74 years until his death a year ago. He was an air conditioning engineer and we moved extensively for his work, all across the Midwest, the Southwest and California. We also found time to participate in 14 Elderhostel travel seminars. Those programs, now called Road Scholar, came after we had raised five children.

My life has been filled with music. I was a music major at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa back in the 1930s. After graduation I taught pubic school music for

two years, then took a "leave of absence" to give full attention to motherhood. Except for teaching private piano lessons.

I also played the violin some, but when a new chamber music trio was being organized and needed a cellist I decided I could probably switch instruments with ease. It wasn't as smooth a transition as I thought it would be, but I became quite proficient with the cello. It became my major instrument. I played with orchestras in Albuquerque and elsewhere for many years.

I also sang, and only retired from the choir at the Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods a couple of years ago, at age 97.

But it wasn't just music that kept me active and alive. I love to read, especially historical fiction. Roger and I used to play at least three games of Scrabble every day. And, I hosted a Bible Study group in my home for many years. One must keep busy.

Another serious hobby was the planning and cooking of nutritious meals. I attribute my longevity to my devotion to healthy foods. Good eating habits and keeping actively involved are the secret I am happy to share.

 Music, Poetry and Health Foods Are the Secret is an excerpt from Aging As An Art Form: Through the Eyes Of Residents of Wesley Palms by Wesley Palms resident Don McEvoy. The book contains 50 stories, experiences and life lessons either self-written or told to Don through interviews.

Don McEvoy is storyteller, former pastor and civil rights activist. Aging as an Art Form is available from Outskirts Press and Proceeds from the book benefit the residents of Wesley Palms.

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