Friday, April 18, 2014

Detroit Writing Workshop, Brush Park Manor: Stories of Successful Aging After 60 -- Frances Shani Parker, Facilitator

Heartfelt stories tucked inside had aged into whispers needing to be shouts. Stereotypes of life after 60 portraying them as declining old people waiting for life’s finale had persuaded some to even question their own testimonies. What energizes life after 60? What celebrates worth of the worthy? An exciting workshop partnership between Brush Park Manor, an independent living Presbyterian Villages of Michigan community for older Detroit adults, and Poets and Writers, Inc. was the answer.
Participants came together in a mutual quest to find out what really matters in life for them now and how they could inspire aging journeys of others. They created win-win personal narratives that helped them discover more about themselves and one another. An enlightening collection of stories representing their personal truths evolved through focused introspection and sharing.

These are some successful aging gems from their stories:

    1. Joyce Alfaro enjoys traveling to many countries now that she has time.
    2. Nathan Anderson stopped using drugs and counsels other addicts.
    3. Bessie Ardis keeps in touch with her family at reunions.
    4. Dorothy Bell cherishes her freedom to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it.
   5. Barbara Jean Carter plays music and crochets to relax and be creative.
   6. Mildred Everette enjoys meetings and trips with the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.
    7. Charity Jackson teaches the Enhance Fitness exercise program to fellow residents while improving her  own health.
    8. Thomas Jackson takes pride in photography and singing.
    9. Harriet Jenkins feels glad that her husband still thanks her for being his caregiver a few years ago.
   10. Edward Leonard shares with others life lessons he’s learned.
   11. Leila Marshall looks forward to new experiences and people in her work as an evangelist.
   12. Harold Massingille's post retirement job as Brush Park Manor service coordinator brings him appreciation and  smiles.
   13. Helen Presley reveals that life is truly worth living. She finds comfort in reading her Bible.
   14. Bettye Roseboro’s faith strengthens her through trials in life and makes aging wonderful.
   15. Dorothy Wise, a heart and kidney transplant and cancer survivor, declares she is a miracle.
   16. Barbara Young keeps busy with committee work and dating her male companion.
You probably noticed negative stereotypes about life after 60 are missing. Now, that's successful aging!

Bessie Ardis (above) was our oldest writing workshop participant at 93 years old.

 Workshop facilitator Frances Shani Parker (right) reviews another inspiring story.

You can read more details about this writing workshop at the Poets and Writers, Inc. website.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.


  1. It is important to not fade into the background after retirement or after we have lived a certain number of year. We know that we have lived long, learned much and endured through good times and bad. This project helps give names and faces to older people for all to take notice. If you overlook the older ones among us, it is our loss and a great loss for the young. What a wonderful project. In my hometown, we are gathering narratives and memories in preparation for the town's 250th anniversary with the knowledge that the town really is the sum of its people, their memories and contributions.

  2. Dave, thank you so much for sharing the importance of celebrating older adults. Your upcoming anniversary event sounds wonderful! Research shows that children as young as three have already started believing some of the negative stereotypes about being old (grouchy, slow, sick, not too smart, can't remember much, etc.) If their perceptions don't change, they can grow up to become the stereotypes they believe. Look around and you'll see some older adults who are doing that now because "I'm old." You are right when you say, "It is our loss and a great loss for the young."

  3. Hello Frances,

    I feel happy to see so many gems that aren't related to children! My husband and I can't have kids, and I think the biggest thing that I worry about is reaching age 60, 70, 80 and beyond, and not having children to brighten my life. I've accepted our infertility, and your list above is helping me see that many people are happy without children!

    Thank you :-)

  4. Laurie, I wish you could see all the nursing home patients I have had who had adult children who rarely visited them. ("Mama has dementia. She doesn't know who I am or that I don't visit much" or "I don't visit Dad because I want to remember him the way he was. I let my sister handle everything.")

    It's best not to depend on others for your wholeness or your happiness.
    Make that your job to fulfill your purpose here and your happiness. I wish you the best.

    Happy endings,