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Gratitude for seven years at the Erickson Tribune

Reporter bids adieu to Brooksby Village and Linden Ponds

Created date

October 10th, 2014
Setarreh-in-KillimanjaroADJ_web.jpg
Setarreh-in-KillimanjaroADJ_web.jpg

Seven years ago as a twenty-something journalism school graduate, I accepted a job as a freelance writer for a newspaper that, admittedly, had not been on my radar long. But it soon became clear to me that reporting for the Erickson Tribune, Erickson Living’s monthly publication, would become a defining life experience.  

Hundreds of interviews with residents of the vibrant Village and Ponds communities provided a full education in what it means to plan for and succeed in retirement; but more importantly, the extraordinary people I have met demonstrated what it means to be living well. 

Abundant, humble talent

One of my first visits to Brooksby was for a story about its longstanding Friday night karaoke sessions, led by seasoned performers Joan Pappalardo, John Murphy, and Tina Scimemi. Wrapped in a pink feather boa and expertly weaving through the room, Joan elicited songs from each audience member and quickly dispelled any preconceived notions I had about what my job would entail. 

An early visit to Linden Ponds was for an interview with tango dancers Norman and Renee Feingold. It wasn’t long before the two were on their feet, explaining Argentine Tango by dancing through their sun-filled apartment home.  

In the years since, I’ve met accomplished and novice musicians, teachers, actors, writers, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, and woodworkers. 

At Brooksby, I interviewed a longtime music teacher who directs Brooksby’s choir, a tech-savvy duo that keeps up with the evolving trends of computer tablets and shares what they’ve learned with the community, a blogger who was invited to speak at a national conference, a brave woman who celebrated a 60th class reunion with a skydiving trip, and a mother-daughter writing team who recently published their first book.  

At Linden Ponds, I met scholars contributing to research on national science standards and hearing loss, a motorcycle-riding librarian, accomplished painters who share their craft by teaching classes and creating scenery for theatrical and holiday events, seasoned journalists who keep their community informed through an electronic magazine, and travelers who have trotted the globe and share their experiences in real and virtual trips.

Never was there a shortage of stories at Brooksby or Linden Ponds, only an abundance of humble people apt to downplay their exceptional talents and endeavors. 

Giving to each other and the community

That mutual appreciation creates unique relationships among those who live and work at Brooksby and Linden Ponds. 

When a Brooksby staff member was ill, he received hundreds of cards from those living in the community, and when his son went to serve the country in Afghanistan, the Brooksby community sent generous holiday packages. 

When an active member of the Linden Ponds community began dialysis treatments three days each week, a group of 30 neighbors rallied together to create a volunteer schedule to help his wife by bringing him to and from those appointments. 

Compassionate volunteers at Brooksby and Linden Ponds also serve their local communities, donating their time to make pillowcases and caps for cancer patients, create afghans and teddy bears for homeless families, and wrap gifts for U.S. troops. Volunteerism is celebrated and supported by community leadership and staff.

Common themes and compassion

At 14-year-old Brooksby and 10-year-old Linden Ponds, buildings have undergone renovations and expansions, new activity groups and programs have emerged, and new residents continue to move in. 

Residents come from diverse backgrounds, but their stories share common themes. They often wish they had made the move to Brooksby or Linden Ponds sooner, before their houses became a challenge to maintain. They made the decision to move as a gift to themselves and their families, who would then rest assured that their loved ones had access to numerous amenities and continuing care, should they ever need it. Residents found in their respective communities a new world of people and opportunities—to learn to paint, play an instrument, participate in discussions, get behind or in front of a video camera, travel, or become an Olympian.

The people of Brooksby and Linden Ponds are the kind of people who check in to ask how this reporter is doing, after welcoming me into their homes and generously sharing their stories. I am grateful for each one of those interviews—my only regret is that I wasn’t able to meet with every resident. 

I’ll greatly miss the privilege of meeting new, inspiring people on a nearly weekly basis, but I take comfort in knowing these communities will continue to thrive, and many of their stories will be told in this paper—but not all. To truly understand the beauty of life at Brooksby and Linden Ponds, one must make a home there. 

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