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March 1, 2024 Village News From Frank....

I received unexpected, sad news this week that my first friend, Sharon, has stage 4 liver cancer and an estimated four months or so left with us. Although we’ve not seen each other in 40 years, we’ve stayed in touch through calls, texts, and social media.  In the midst of her own pain, she still asked about my mother and shared with me again how much she appreciated my mother’s acts of kindness towards her more than fifty years ago. 


I’ve previously shared my grief about the loss of my father, my dear Aunt Catherine, friends, Village members, and even my constant canine companion, Rosie, all who have passed, some suddenly and others after long illnesses.  I think the loss of loved ones, for me, is one of the hardest parts of the privilege of aging.  I should have realized this earlier when my mother, prior to her Alzheimer’s, asked me to re-write her address book because at eighty-nine years old then, she had lost many friends that it was hard to see so many names of people that she’d outlived. 


And despite all of this sadness, and many tears, I know it’s important for me at least, to continue to reach out to connect with others. When I think about the Village movement starting by neighbors sitting around kitchen tables trying to figure out how to age in place, the emphasis, as I understand it, was initially on the practical supports – getting rides to appointments, changing light bulbs, delivering prescriptions, etc.  While those are important and needed, what I’ve experienced in our Village community over the past four and half years as Executive Director is that the connections and friendships are really critical ingredients to the “secret sauce” in assisting others to “age in community.” 


So, I encourage everyone to reach out to others.  Maybe there’s a member that you’ve not seen in a while.  Give them a call. Or send an email or text to someone that you suspect is lonely.  Share a meal. Perhaps the best way that we can help each other as we age in community, is to be there for them, providing companionship, connection, or friendship.  Along the way, you may find out that someone needs some practical help.  We’re here to help with those needs. (By the way, sometimes, we learn about a member’s needs from other members or volunteers!) 


We never really know how long each of us has here.  Together, let’s make the most of whatever time remains by being there for each other.  As Sharon showed me this week, even small acts of kindness endure and make a difference in our lives.

PS – It’s not escaped me that March is Women’s History Month.  As someone essentially raised by 7 women during the days of the Equal Rights Amendment, I have a lot to say about the value of women in our society. Luckily, we have the whole month to celebrate so stay tuned for my reflections on the importance of women’s contributions in the coming weeks.



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