Hi again! One of the things I consider to be the most fun about writing this column is I get to chat with people who come to the center and learn a little more about them. As you might guess, they come from different economic levels, different parts of town as well as from the outlying rural areas and towns surrounding Shawnee.
Hi again! One of the things I consider to be the most fun about writing this column is I get to chat with people who come to the center and learn a little more about them. As you might guess, they come from different economic levels, different parts of town as well as from the outlying rural areas and towns surrounding Shawnee. But they all seem to have one basic thought in mind – they all want to get out of the house, socialize and enjoy life. Sound familiar?
So today I am going to tell you about one of our 80-plus-year-old people who does just that: gets out of the house, comes to the center and socializes, and you can definitely tell she “enjoys life.” Perhaps you know her; her name is Ellie MacDonald. She’s almost a daily visitor to the center (when she’s not traveling to visit relatives and friends in Canada and parts of the states from Texas in the south, Michigan in the north and Florida in the east and California in the west).
Ellie was born in Canada — Quebec to be exact — and her dad was a miner. They moved a lot so he could keep working and feeding his family. Ellie was the baby in the family of four children (two sisters and a brother). Her first job was working for the post office, but then she went on after high school to become a long-distance telephone operator. It was while she was working for the phone company that a friend introduced her to the man who would become the love of her life….Ross MacDonald.
Ross was a 21-year-old U.S. citizen in the United States Air Force working at a Norad site in Canada when they met. A year later, 21-year-old Ellie and Ross were married at Kirkland Lake, Ontario. As often happens in the military, Ellie and Ross moved around a lot getting to see new parts of both countries. From Kirkland Lake, Ontario, they moved to Tampa, Florida, from there to Midwest City, Oklahoma, then on North Bay, Canada, and then Newburg, New York (where she has a neat story about the house they bought and couldn’t live in; you can ask her she’ll explain). The moves were not done, however, because then it was on to Kinichloe AFB, in Michigan, then to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and when that base closed off they went to Oscoda, Michigan, where Ross worked on base but his family lived 10 miles from there. With his 20 years in, Ross finally retired and the moves stopped for a while.
During those 20 years in the service, Ellie and Ross had six children: Kate, JoAnne, Cameron, David, Todd, and Sandi. After all the kids were grown and on their own, they became a pair of “Snowbirds,” traveling all over to visit family and friends wherever they were. For their 50th anniversary, those six kids threw them a surprise 50th anniversary party inviting family and friends from Canada and all over the United States. Ellie did mention that although it was supposed to be a surprise she did know what was going on because (her quote now), “I’m kinda nosy,” but she kept the secret from her Ross.
In 2006 Ross and Ellie moved to Shawnee, where her oldest daughter and husband were living. In a three month period in 2009, Ellie lost her husband; Ross, her daughter; JoAnne, and one of her sisters. Tough times, but Ellie and her family are very strong together.
Ellie, today, is an always smiling 80-plus senior who has been known to tell an occasional slightly off-color story. She carries a large walking stick but I’ve always thought it was not really for walking but more for emphasis when she needs it. She plays and organizes cards games every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Her posse includes six to eight or more social seniors who also enjoy getting out of the house with a group of fun-loving and fun-making ladies. She still travels to visit family and friends in Canada and places across the states. Several weeks ago she convinced most of her posse to forgo card playing for a couple of days and instead to go down to Dallas for a live nativity play, and they had a great time. I believe she is already looking for another jaunt they can all take somewhere together.
A basic fact of life at the center is that there are always people who can no longer get to the center or need more care than they can get at home and that results in their being in a custodial care facility, but if Ellie knows them, she makes a point of visiting and/or calling every week. She surprises some with lunch for two, all get smiles and conversation, but with every visit they get the knowledge that they are not forgotten, not by Ellie and not by her posse.
Ellie is a remarkable Lady (note the capital L) and I, for one, enjoy her smile, her wit, and her card playing skills. Come on down to the center in the afternoon on any Monday, Wednesday or Friday and join in on the fun of card-playing with Ellie and her posse. If you come once, I know you will come back….. Oh by the way, just as an aside, in case you were not aware, Ellie’s daughter also works at the senior center. Her name is Kate MacDonald Joyce.
Cruise director Kate Joyce will be chatting with Mike Askins on “Mike in the Morning” on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 8:35 am, KGFF Radio (FM 100.9 and AM 1450). Give a listen and hear what else is happening at the center that might be fun and/or interesting for you to be a part of in this 2018 new year.
And remember, at the Shawnee Senior Center, “age is just a number.” The website is www.SHAWNEECENIORS.org and our facebook page is “ShawneeSeniorCenter.” Check out that new website, we think you’ll love our new colors and all the information you can get now about the center.
See you at the center!