September 18, 2019
Our last day in PA is a home run. Presbyterian Senior Care had the show ready to go for us – dancing, singing, cakes, and a visit to a famous local spot, Oakmont Bakery. Carrie Chiusano, longtime iN2L friend and dementia guru, was the ringleader for the event, choreographing a lot of moving parts to make the day turn out spectacularly. And it was a delight to have longtime friends Jackie Hylton and Joe Angelelli along for the ride. We were able to get in three excellent cruises. One with Carrie and her mom, (I failed spectacularly in getting either mother or daughter to share any dirt on each other). Another with two of their independent residents. Jeannie was all decked out and looking fabulous. It was fun to drive them around to the bakery and to get some local history laid out.
But the third cruise was something I will never forget. When I first walked into the community, Carrie did a quick introduction to 97-year-old Sister Mary Dollorita. Sister had a look of joy about her. We struck up a conversation about her life, and I had to get a trip with her! Remarkable is way too much of an understatement for this woman of God. Multiple facets of her life could fill an encyclopedia, but my favorite chapter in the rich book of her life did not start until she was 70! How many of us hear from people in their 60s, 50s and even 40s that they are too old to start something. Refer those folks to Sister! At 70 years old she volunteered to teach in Lithuania, a country she had never been to before and a country where she did not speak the language. She moved over there, jumped right in to resolve some political unrest and wound up staying for 20 years. She taught, she volunteered, and six years after being there she opened a hospital!! Are you kidding me? It was an honor to be in the same van with her, much less share the same planet. I was in the presence of humble greatness. We laughed on our cruise, we prayed on our cruise, and I can’t imagine I will meet on this journey a person more at peace with her life, or anyone who has accomplished more. What an absolute honor to be meeting these types of people along the journey. It’s changing my perspective of aging daily.
Thank you, Carrie, for all you have done for iN2L, for choreographing such a meaningful visit, and, most of all, for introducing me to Sister Dollorita. What a day!
On to Ohio!