“I’ve got all kinds of colors. I say pick out red, or blue, or whatever — but they always want the color that [I’m wearing],” Mae laughed. Between being a nail artist, a writer, a choreographer and a companion, Mae wears many different hats in order to keep her fellow residents in good spirits. Her reason? Empathy.
“When you see [new residents] come in, you know they are anxious,” she explains. “And that [warm welcome] makes them feel better. And it helps my heart too. It gives me a reason.”
Mae finds it important to offer people comfort in their time of need. And when she herself needs comfort, she finds it in a notebook, a pen and a quiet place.
“After my husband sort of walked away, I told myself, ‘This isn’t going to hurt you, Mae, and you are going to come back from all of this,’” she said. “And I did.” It was then that Mae Whitworth decided she would walk out her front door and down to the beach to write for the very first time. Sitting in the sand and putting pen to paper one May evening in 1996, she wrote:
Time has taken some of that free spirit and laughter and replaced it with silence.… I look forward to this time of my life as I move on with that spirit of adventure that has been hidden for so long.
It is exactly this spirit of adventure that Mae endeavors to return to Brookdale residents — one dance party, one shoulder to cry on, at a time.
Nowadays, Mae uses her love of writing to connect with others by writing letters and cards to loved ones. But very soon, she might just be adding a new means of bringing comfort and cheer to her palette: a writing workshop.
“I’m getting chill bumps all over!” said Mae upon hearing the news that she could start her own writing workshop at her Brookdale community.
“That would be a dream. Then they [the residents] could get it all out, and we could have a good time and call it …” she paused. “Well, we need to make up a fun name for it!” she said excitedly.
Mae is a shining example of what Brookdale hopes to offer each of its residents: an opportunity to take their passions, their personal development and their relationship with others to the next level. A senior living community isn’t a place to go when your old life ends, but one where a new, more fulfilling stage of your life may begin. And you can take Mae Whitworth as living proof.
“[Starting this club] is just a dream come true,” she said. “And I never even had a dream. All I had was writing. But now I’ve got more than that. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Read Mae Whitworth’s essay “The Sandpiper’s Dance” in its entirety below.
“The Sandpiper’s Dance”
By Mae E. Whitworth
Indian Harbour Beach, Florida
Friday, May 10, 1996
As I sit here on the beach, there is such a peacefulness. The tiny sandpipers dance on the sand as if they know they are performing for someone.
Couples walk the beach and dream their dreams of tomorrow. Some people, by themselves, think of the memories of yesteryear. Still others have deep feelings of anticipation in their hearts for today, and how this time, too, will be a memory in time.
As everyone disappears from the gentle waves, a sailboat in the distance is just barely moving. I wonder what their dreams are made of?
Is it O.K. to have dreams tucked deep within, or are dreams to be shared? Some dreams are so simple, yet so unattainable for so many of us. Is it the years that change our dreams or is it the dreams that change us through the years?
A child dreams of becoming a teenager and then the teenager can’t wait for those years of adulthood and independence. Once those days have come and gone, then comes the dream of sharing your dreams with someone special. Yet once that dream comes true, is there always yet another dream we continue to search for, or is it the search for peace and happiness in ourselves we continue to seek? Possibly it is within all of us but only appears for those of us willing to chase our dreams.
Just as the tiny sandpiper may want to soar with the pelicans, would he be content so far above the shore without all the comfort of the gentle waves and sand below? For this could never happen — there would be no sandpipers to dance on the shore and share their spirited moments for those of us watching the melody of the ocean.
Tomorrow is a time for me to become the Wildflower that is hiding inside of me. Time has taken some of that free spirit and laughter and replaced it with silence. At last, I have learned to listen to my heart and speak my own words.
And this will be the music for the sandpiper’s dance.
Using the word “I” will become part of my vocabulary, and I will think of the sandpipers dancing when I put my feelings in front of my fear. The time is here and now to reach out and face those dreams and tuck these fears away.
Just as a girl becomes a young lady full of hopes and dreams, a woman can also find this young lady again. As she enters a period of her life where she is free to express her joys, fears, anger, tears, love and feelings, a new door will open. Life experiences give us the right to do this because too many of us have suppressed our spirit because someone might think we are a bit strange. Finally, being strange or different is O.K. as long as there is true peacefulness and happiness in your heart. This is something that a woman can only give to herself! Only then can she hear or speak the music.
I look forward to this time of my life as I move with that spirit of adventure that has been hidden for so very long. Yes, I would imagine it would be like starting a love affair with yourself and discovering what you really are inside.
I can’t wait to see all of this unfold because now I can smile at just the sound of a bird singing or a sandpiper dancing to MY music.
Copyright © 1996, Mae E. Whitworth. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
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