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Our Artist-in-Residence, Larry Johnson

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By: Taylor Hudecek

Larry moved to Wesley Ridge in May 2013. Although Larry’s 6th grade art class was the only experience he had, he decided to give the art program at Wesley Ridge a shot in 2014. Since joining, he has created more than 70 exceptional pieces of artwork! When asked why art is important to him, Larry responded with, “I like creating something that I believe is beautiful, but more importantly, I like creating something that others find beauty in”. Larry’s artwork is known for its logo on the bottom right corner, which includes a cursive “L” for his first name, surrounded by a cursive “J” for his last. When you see this logo on a piece of artwork, you’ll know it’s a Larry Johnson original!

Larry, a true “Hoosier at Heart”, was born and raised in Milan, Indiana. At age 18, he moved to Wilmington, Ohio on a 4-year work-study program with Wilmington College where he earned his B.S. in Business Administration. There he also met his future wife, Kathryn (Kathy) Humphreys. After their wedding on August 12, 1962, they moved from Wilmington to Cincinnati, and then from Cincinnati to Bethel, Ohio. A promotion with State Auto Insurance Companies led their family to London, Ohio in 1979 where he retired after 35 years. They moved to their ‘retirement home’ in Pataskala, Ohio in May 2000 and became members of Tri-Village Christian Church. Larry and Kathy spent the first part of his retirement years spending time with grandkids, fishing, hosting garage sales, taking long walks in the woods and volunteering a large amount of their time to Tri-Village where they cared for the landscaping, worked in children’s ministry, and Larry headed up the Security detail and did a lot of building maintenance.

Larry was married to Kathy for 43 years before she passed away in 2006. Together, they had three children: Timothy Wayne; 8/2/65- 7/10/15, Kenneth Lee; 10/31/66, and Kathleen Diane; 6/19/69. Larry also has nine grandchildren born in the years spanning 1993-2003.  From oldest to youngest: Emily, Alexander, Haley, Kassandra, Olivia, Sophie, Hannah, Noah and Nathan.

We are glad to have such an amazing person living and thriving at Wesley Ridge Retirement Community.

Peg’s Perspective: What’s Marilyn’s key to a long, healthy, and happy life?

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Answers from an interview with Marilyn Sells-Webb, a woman who knows how it’s done!

Marilyn Sells-Webb was born on May 10, 1915—you can do the math! (Yes, she is 103!) She is often seen spending time in the Wesley Glen lobby chatting with friends, or in the Wellness Center keeping up with her exercise routine! But my fondest memory of her is when she led the way on a community walk, as in LED THE WAY, when she was a mere 101!

When asked about the key to living a long, healthy, and happy life, Marilyn jokes that longevity is “in the genes!” Her brother lived to be 100, and two sisters lived well into their 90’s.

But, along with good genes?

Happy Friendships

She proves this tip every day at Wesley Glen as she walks around the campus putting a smile on each person’s face! Marilyn explained that she is, and always was (even from childhood), a happy person, with lots of friends. She remembers the porch from their childhood home – when it would rain, the porch would fill up with kids, and they would play games and cards.   She remembers “we always had fun.”

Hard Work   

Marilyn also credits good old-fashioned hard work. Her first job was at Kresge’s at State and High. She was paid $7 (“seven whole dollars!”) a week!  She would pay her mother $3 and keep $4 for herself.

School, Church and Music

Marilyn also remembers that she loved school and did very well. And, like others I have interviewed, music and church were a strong foundation for her.

The list of things that Marilyn loved in her life is long: singing, being at home with her three children, working, family vacations (and working some more). But, I would argue that laughing should be at the top of her list! Anyone who has met Marilyn knows that her laugh is infectious, and she laughs quite a bit!

We are lucky to have residents like Marilyn to fill our communities with happiness and joy. As she says, “We have a good life.”

Peg’s Perspective: What’s John’s key to a long, healthy, and happy life?

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Our Wesley Ridge resident, Dr. John Kirker has some definite ideas on the key to a long and happy life. And at 97, he’s an expert on the topic.

John Kirker was born in 1921 in Watertown, Massachusetts.    He served in the Coast Guard from 1942-1945 and went to Capital University on the GI Bill. John was happily married to his wife, Shirley, for 54 years before she passed away in 2017. They had three children, two girls and a boy.

In all his life experiences, John has endless advice! But, regarding living a long and happy life here are his top recommendations:

Good attitude. 

As anyone who meets him already knows, John always enjoys people, and has a very positive outlook on life. He is known for stopping by to brighten days with his big smile and pocket full of candy! Resident and staff alike are joyed by his presence.

Exercise. 

He and Shirley would walk every day for about 15 minutes, right after breakfast. Not only was it great quality time together, but it also kept the two of them active. Also, John has been playing golf for a long time! He began playing in Caddie Camp, a league for beginner golfers, in 1934.

Staying busy/hard work.   

John had a very successful career as Dean of Men, then as Chairman of the Department of Education. He enjoyed his years of work so much that he began an entirely new career after retirement. His post-retirement position consisted of evaluating projects for a not for profit foundation.

John also loved working around the house to keep himself busy. He painted the outside of the house several times and worked on other miscellaneous projects around their home. The work “never bothered me,” John explained. He truly enjoyed the work he did at their home.

Listening.    

John describes himself as a verbal individual. He enjoys talking with others and learning about their story. But, he believes that the ability to really listen to people is very important.

Church and Family.   

His motto is “I am Third”, meaning God is first, family is second, and he is third.

His wife brought him so much joy during their time together. And, John is extremely proud and thankful for his three children.

Music.

John enjoys listening to music, playing music, and even writing musical lyrics (which read like poetry). John is a gifted musical writer. He showed me lyrics that were a testament to a broken heart, but he added “This could be an ode to losing someone to dementia.”

Dr. John Kirker,   “Once an advisor, always a friend,”   we thank you for your insight.

Why should I discuss end of life decisions with my loved ones now?

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By: Amy Shaffer

Nineteen years ago my dad, Mike Poly was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.  He was 50 years old-just a year older than I am now.  This was a man who was still playing softball with his friends and open gym basketball with the kids at Bishop Ready High School in Columbus, Ohio. We were in obvious shock when he was diagnosed. Thinking of life without him was unfathomable; but thinking of what was in store the next 8 months wasn’t even on our radar.

The first few months flew by as Dad had surgery and began radiation treatment.  My dad, my sister and I celebrated our “triple birthday” together (sadly, it would be our last).  He loved the beach, so he went three times that summer. We also made a trip to Keuka Lake, New York for a family wedding.  He even went to the Ohio State Fair about five times that year (he loved his corn, steak on a stick and lemon shake ups!).  Although his medical team was very honest with us about his prognosis, we still had hope because he was continuing to do the things he loved.

Mom and Dad had never had a reason to establish power of attorney, create a living will or elect a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order before now.  But just a few short months after his diagnoses, we were faced with these questions of his wishes. The social worker at Mt. Carmel first broached the subject of advanced directives with my parents while my dad was hospitalized for pain management.  She talked with them about a DNR and end of life decisions.  He was only 51 at this point; how could he and my mom even think about whether or not he wanted resuscitated?  As the cancer was ravaging his body, we began to learn the benefits of having advanced directives in place; about how important it was to know what dad wanted at the end of his life; about how we should carry out his choices; about what a gift it truly is to be reassured with these difficult decisions that we were doing what he wanted; we were honoring his wishes. Once we understood, it became a little easier.

But for many families, it’s not always as clear.  Our loved ones may live full, healthy lives, so we don’t think about what might happen if one day they can’t express their wishes. Or perhaps they have always refused to think or plan for their future, for fear of the unknown.  Most people think they have taken care of everything because they have a will or a pre-paid funeral plan, but never really face the reality of what may happen between now and when they pass away. My experience with my father as well as working in the healthcare and long term care industry has given me special insight.  I have shared the journey so many families are faced with.  I have witnessed the slow deterioration of our brains and bodies from a long term illness like dementia or Parkinson’s.  I have watched families face the difficult decisions of initiating or withholding life-sustaining treatment.  I have also witnessed acute, life threatening events like a stroke or heart attack when the decision for heroic, life-sustaining treatment must be made in a moment of anguish.

Please consider discussing advance directives and end of life decisions with your partner, your parents and your closest friends.  Encourage them to communicate their choices and urge them to put a legal document like a power of attorney, a living will and/or a DNR into place.  Then, have that courageous conversation with your kids and let them know your wishes.  There is no gift more valuable than to make your choices known so that your loved ones aren’t left to these difficult decisions in a time of crisis.

 

Peg’s Perspective: Life Lessons I Learned from Our Residents

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By: Peg Carmany

I first began to work in senior housing in 2002, and it’s remarkable to me how fast those 15 years have flown by.   As I look back, I think my biggest misconception at the beginning was that I was here to help them. In reality, they have given me invaluable gifts of knowledge and friendship.

Here are but a few of the things I have learned from my residents over the years:

  1. Adversity does not have to define you.     If you get a chance to live into your 80s (or 90s) (or 100s!), life will definitely throw you some curve balls.     Poor health.   Unexpected loss of a loved one.    Financial troubles.      You name it.    And at some point (and I’m not entirely sure at what age, but it will happen), you grieve, you adjust, and then you accept that everyone is carrying around something that is burdensome.
  2. Once you realize #1, you are kinder to others as a result.
  3. Gratitude is important. It sounds trite, “Count your blessings.”   But it is not trite, it is important.     Almost always, there is something, oftentimes more than one thing, to truly be grateful for, and to acknowledge.
  4. If you become a good listener, most people will think you’re a terrific conversationalist.
  5. Life is short, and it goes by quickly, and none of us are getting out of here alive. Don’t waste a day lost in meaningless details. Know that “This too shall pass,” eventually.

Now in 2018, I continue to remind myself how much our residents have helped me grow as a human being. I am better at handling the curveballs that life throws my way, whether it’s at home or at work and I strive, every day, to express my gratitude in a variety of ways. But most importantly, I truly enjoy spending time with the people who have taught me so much. There’s always room to grow.

Christmas Magic

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By: Trisha Mayhorn

Christmas at The Wesley Communities is always a magical time of year. The halls are full of decorations and employees are full of cheer! As for the residents, you can see how touched they are by all the holiday magic. I couldn’t imagine a better place to work, especially during the holidays. There are so many great people here, but one who stands out around Christmas is Phil Van Walsen.

Phil creates dazzling Christmas displays for us at Wesley Glen. They truly set the stage for the other holiday décor! The tradition started when a neighbor of Wesley Glen wanted to donate her 500-piece Christmas village collection. She was moving to Florida, and although it was hard to part with her things, she knew her collection had found a good home here at Wesley Glen.

Phil accepted the challenge to create the beautiful displays, and he has added another 500 or so pieces to the display over time. Each year residents and friends donate additional items and Phil finds a place for them.

He doesn’t use a blueprint. He just builds as the spirit moves him. This year, it’s a multi-level affair with motion and lots to look at, including custom Wesley Glen painted items! Phil even used the potted plants that are usually in the south lobby and he’s created a fun seek-and-find for specific items too.

Residents, staff and visitors love spending time looking at it. The Wesley Communities has the holiday spirit, and for that we would like to thank all of our residents and staff!

 

One Journey in a Conversation

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I like to meet people, talk to them and learn something unique about them. I learned early on from my father the art of being social. As I look back on my life, I realize that I have met some amazing people. Think about those individuals you knew in your neighborhood, your high school, college, maybe even your first job. We have crossed paths with people who have impacted our lives in some way. But I think the most interesting people I have found are in my own family.

My niece Emma Grace is a freshman at a local high school and was assigned a special project: interview someone and document the conversation. She had to write a list of questions based on who her subject was, and she was even going to videotape it. This is coming from a generation that spends time with their heads down, buried in their phones, and fingers madly typing a thousand miles an hour, not readily engaged nor seeming to care what anyone thinks or says.

And Emma? She chose a subject very near and dear to my heart: her grandmother, my mother. We set everything up in the living room of my sister’s home: lights, camera, chairs and had the microphone ready to capture grandma’s responses. I couldn’t wait to hear what Emma was going to ask her. What was her favorite food? Who was her favorite grandchild? Surprisingly, I was not even close.

Emma had thought diligently about her questions. She knew my mother grew up poor, the seventh child of eight children in a coal-mining town. She knew that she had traveled to Austria a few summers ago to visit her mother’s town. She knew she lost her husband to cancer at a young age. I sat there while Emma interviewed my mother and was captivated. There were things I did not know about my mother. “Grandma, tell me when you knew HE was the one?” “How did you deal with the death of your husband at such a young age?” “What do you hope that your children or grandchildren learned from you?” Yes, these were some of the questions dear Emma asked my mother. I was overwhelmed by emotion.

Too often we wait to acknowledge what someone means to us after they pass away or leave us. And what we miss is the simple fact that someone so close to us fell in love, had dreams, fears and philosophies that we never knew. But we can ask them…now. I ask my mother a lot about her life, and I have many memories tucked away, but I learned so many things that day.

I challenge you to take a moment and go on a verbal journey with someone you love, respect or maybe always wanted to just know more about. Don’t be afraid to ask them thought-provoking questions or just about what makes them tick. We all have that inside each of us. It is amazing what you can learn and how you feel afterwards. One journey in a conversation. Take that trip. If you would like to share a life-changing conversation, share with us.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Helen.

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February 8, 1926. That is the day she was born. She is Helen Jean, and she is my mother’s sister, my aunt and my Godmother. She grew up in the tiny coal-mining town of Glen Robbins, Ohio in a four-room house with her seven siblings and parents. Yes, ten people in a four-room house. She lived there for 88 and a half years until we moved her to a memory care center and sold her house.

Last week, my mother and I visited her. When we walked in she was sitting in the common room with other residents. She greeted us and told us she was going to a dance. She introduced her “sisters” and we walked back to her room. We sat on the edge of her bed and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She smiled and said we sang so well we should be on television! Then she opened the gifts we brought her and ate some of the candy, especially the Tootsie Pops. She loves the cherry ones the best.

Why do I tell you this? As I grew up, my family always made a big deal about birthdays. We still do. And my dear Aunt Helen never missed one. Not for my four sisters or me. She always sent us a card in the mail, brought us a little gift and stood in our kitchen and sang our family birthday song. Memories. My family celebrates our birthdays and those of our friends, co-workers, etc. Why? Because we believe that each person is brought into this world with a unique gift to give…. Themselves…. and that they should be celebrated.

My aunt is 90! That is almost a century of living…..of moments and memories, of snapshots and dreams. And everyone has their own. How wonderful is that? Individuals who are residing in senior communities, assisted living or nursing centers should especially be celebrated. They have so many stories to tell and knowledge to share.

It does not take a lot to recognize someone on his or her special day. Send a card, make a phone call and sing into the phone, arrange a lunch or dinner with friends, bring a cake to a neighbor or just pick up a bouquet—do something even if it as simple as showing up and saying “Happy Birthday”.

So I ask you to think about someone you know who is celebrating a birthday soon. Celebrate with them. You will enjoy it. I promise. Do you have a favorite birthday memory? Share it with us.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Helen. I love you.

Charitable Giving 2015

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With the last few days of the year approaching, it’s not too late to make a charitable donation to your favorite charity or to provide collected personal or household items to a local non-profit group. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, the annual American household gave $2,974 to charities in 2014. In addition, non-profits are seeing online donations on the rise. With the ease of technology, here are a few reminders for last minute donations. Remember that contributions are considered to be claimed on the delivery date to the charity:

  • Contributions made by December 31, 2015 will be considered to be made within the 2015 tax year
  • Any contributions that are made with assets that fluctuate (stocks or securities) will be determined by the value on the date made
  • Any mailed donations must have a postmark date of December 31, 2015 to count toward the current tax year, however, post-dated checks and returned/bounced checks are exceptions to the rules
  • Contributions made on credit cards are counted when the processing of the charge is made

Many personal donations are given during the holiday season because of goodwill, however, the tax benefits can also be significant. If you are giving stocks or other assets that have grown in value, there may be a greater tax benefit. Before making any donations, make sure you double-check that the charity you are choosing qualifies for tax-exempt deductions. Make sure to be careful of phone calls or other online scams. There are some great charity search websites, like, “Charity Navigator” and the Better Business Bureau’s www.give.org website allows you to search charities that are accredited.

Columbus Talent Donates Time for Annual Charity Golf Classic

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Columbus, OH (May 4, 2015) – The stars will be out Monday, July 13 for the 6th Annual Wesley Glen/Wesley Ridge Charity Golf Classic hosted by The Wesley Communities.

PGA Senior Tour player, Rod Spittle, will be located at Hole 15 where players will be able to purchase a golf ball and have Mr. Spittle hit for their shot. Columbus’ own Channel 6 news personality, Bill Kelly, will be Master of Ceremonies and will be broadcasting live from the event at 5 and 6 pm.  Professional auctioneer, Mike Albert, will once again be the auctioneer for the silent and live auctions.

Title Sponsors for the event are Corna Kokosing Construction Company and FirstMerit Bank. Proceeds benefit Hospice Services at Methodist ElderCare and Wesley At Home.

The event begins with player registration at 8 a.m. and a shotgun start at 9:30 a.m. The event is not limited to golfers. Following the outing, guests and players will have a chance to mix and mingle as the event concludes with awards, dinner and live and silent auctions.

•  $1,000 per foursome (includes 18 holes of golf, beverages, lunch, dinner and auction)
•  $75 per person to attend only the dinner and auction
•  The Charity Golf Classic is limited to 30 teams
•  Deadline to register is Friday, July 3, 2015

For more information on securing a sponsorship or forming a team, contact Mary LeMaster (614) 396-4831 or visit www.methodisteldercare.org.

About The Wesley Communities

The Wesley Communities is an affiliate of the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church providing quality housing, health care and services for seniors in the Central Ohio area. Incorporated in 1967, The Wesley Communities is a not-for-profit corporation that that knows its business and understands its customers. For additional information call (614) 396-4990 or visit www.methodisteldercare.org.