I just returned from a sad trip—I went to Cincinnati to attend a memorial service for an old friend. It’s sad because he was a fine person and, while he was obviously not part of my day-to-day life, I will miss him. I feel a strong sense of loss. It’s also sad because it takes things like Paul’s premature death at age 57 to remind me to celebrate those in my life now. It’s trite but true that what I really value is the people with whom I engage, sometimes every day or week, sometimes only occasionally. If you’re reading, this, chances are you are one of those people and let me take this moment to say thank you for being in my life.
Connecting to others is one of the most significant aspects of JCHE housing. Combating the isolation that can be inherent in one’s golden years if physical limitations make going to events a chore, we offer a rich array of opportunities to relate to one another right on site—art classes, fitness classes and communal exercise equipment, meals, lectures and trips to name just a few. With an average age in the 80’s, it’s not surprising that many of our residents are widows or widowers. Many find camaraderie and intellectual stimulation from meeting new residents and find comfort from now well-worn friendships.
Some of our residents are fortunate enough to be in very long-term marriages. Twelve of these couples, each married 50 years or more, were recently honored by the City of Boston Commission on the Affairs of the Elderly. Each year the Commission makes it a priority to acknowledge those in the City who have been married for at least half a century. At this year’s magnificent event, 12 couples who live in JCHE’s Brighton communities were among those so recognized. With 84 couples at the event, JCHE provided 1/7 of the honorees!
Most of our residents tell stories of very hard lives. Many had to immigrate to the United States to escape terror and oppression in their native lands. Many struggled throughout life to earn a decent living. Some had health problems that haunted them for a long time. That the marriages of these 12 couples survived these trials is worth honoring. The day-to-day engagement and ongoing growth of all 1300 residents is an honor to witness.
~ Amy Schectman, President and CEO of JCHE