Growing Older Extra: Reader Essay by LaRae M. Donnellan

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2017

W2017_GrowingOlderExtraLaRaeM.Donnellan_Inline300 I never imagined I would end up in an active retirement community with a bunch of old codgers whose political views differ so greatly from mine. No, I had wanted to live in a lively, multigenerational community whose residents would magically be part of my life.

But here I am, living in “Florida’s friendliest hometown.” Moving here was my husband’s dream, not mine. But we do things for love, so I agreed to buy a house here. Much to my surprise, within a month I had drunk the Kool-Aid. Now I love it here.

Here in the senior Disneyworld, we don’t have time to waste. We seek friends and enjoy one another’s company with a glee that resembles childhood.

I spent my career as a communications professional and eventually as a college professor. Now, I organize social activities and community service opportunities for my new friends. And I feel, surprisingly, just as fulfilled. I value camaraderie to a degree I never did when I was younger. So I work hard not to alienate others. But I also have learned simply to avoid others who would choose to make my life miserable.

I have also rediscovered my inner athlete, competing in pickleball in the Senior Games and elsewhere. I have learned to value THIS precious moment, THIS precious day. I’m still young. Check back with me when I’m 80.

- LaRae M. Donnellan (B.A. ’65, M.A. ’75), The Villages, Florida

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