By VIVIAN CONRAD
As my mother progresses through her 80s, she is becoming more proactive about addressing items on her bucket list.
Within the past few years she has ticked off cruises with my dad through the Panama Canal, Alaska coast and Amazon River.
Sometimes my siblings and I get pulled into the experience, as we did at last October’s Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Several weeks ago Mom overheard me planning a trip to Georgia to help my missionary daughter pack crates for their move to Indonesia.
Seizing the opportunity to fulfill another wish from her list, Mom hijacked my trip and rescheduled us for a stopover in Plains, Ga. It has been her longtime desire to attend a Sunday school class taught by former President Jimmy Carter.
So that’s how we found ourselves being frisked by Secret Service agents two Sunday mornings ago. They carefully screened every person who entered the country church on the outskirts of Plains.
Sitting in the second row of the small auditorium, Mom and I experienced a moment of awe as the former president entered the room. I had come of age just in time to vote for Jimmy Carter in my very first presidential election. Now, here was the man himself, dressed modestly in a blazer and bolo tie, his mind sharp and agile.
Having learned that I was a retired missionary, Mr. Carter asked me to open the session with prayer. He then launched into a Bible lesson with quiet passion, his words and expression filled with love for the Lord and for Scripture.
After the morning worship service, he and his wife – pronounced Rose, like the flower, Lynn – allowed us to be photographed with them before they boarded a plane for Washington, where they would attend President Barack Obama’s inauguration the next day.
I hadn’t thought much about it before that day, but meeting Jimmy Carter has now been added to my own list of life highlights.
From the perspective of my work at the Senior Center, he embodies the best of elder adulthood. At age 88 he keeps physically fit through daily exercise and stays actively involved in national and global issues. Whether providing homes for the homeless through Habitat for Humanity, negotiating peace in war-torn countries or supporting his rural community’s culture and economy, he makes the welfare of others his personal priority.
“Active.” “Engaged.” “Involved.” These words typify a life of purpose and meaning at any age, but are especially significant for seniors.
Older adults bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to any situation. When our seniors step forward as volunteers and mentors in our community, everyone benefits. You don’t have to negotiate peace treaties in foreign countries to help make your own hometown a stronger and better place.
Speaking of volunteers, we welcome help from anyone who’d like to be involved in our upcoming annual Garage Sale. The Senior Center can supply donation receipts for any contributions, and we need people to help sort through and price donated items. We would also be grateful for donations of food and snacks for our workers during the week of March 4-5. Call (940) 325-6470 for more information.
Tax help is coming. On Feb. 7 we will begin offering our annual Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance. Help will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from 8:30 a.m. to noon every Thursday in February, March and through April 11. You don’t have to be a senior to take advantage of this opportunity.
If you haven’t yet visited Mineral Wells Senior Center, how about adding us to your bucket list experiences. This is a great place to stay active and involved. Stop by today for a daily menu and activities calendar.