I first started working with Mary a couple of sessions into our programming at Commonwealth Elderly in Brighton. The first conversation I had with her was about some beautiful poetry she had written about Cape Cod and the experience of aging and looking back at life. Although I hadn’t ever really had an interest in poetry, I left the site that day with Mary’s poem in my mind. Her writing left such an impression on me, and I was eager to come back and ask Mary more about her writing as well as get to know her better.
Mary was born in a small town in upstate New York called Elmira. She lived there up until the first grade and then moved to Massachusetts, where she lived in Newton for most of her adult life. Mary received a combination of public and parochial schooling for primary and secondary grades. She then went on to attend Boston College in 1977 where she majored in English. Once Mary finished her undergraduate education, she went to D.C. to work for a congressman and later also worked as an editor for a writing magazine for about a year and a half. She then returned to Boston to get her masters in English and Literature at Boston College. Mary then taught English in a high school at Newton as well as at Boston College as a teaching fellow. Since then, she has continued to pursue her personal passion for writing and English and has lived at Commonwealth Elderly with her husband for the past 12 years.
Mary speaks very highly of the LBFE staff and programming sharing, ‘You’re very patient. You let us go at our own speed. It’s been so helpful.’ Mary has been one of our most engaged participants, attending our programming weekly, and eager to ask questions and work with us students. When Mary first heard that LBFE was going to be offering a computer class she shied away from the course due to the inherent intimidating nature of the ever-evolving world of technology. During our conversation she candidly shared, ‘I’m not good with technology. I didn’t grow up with it.’ She went on to express how grateful she was to have learned a lot of basics that have served as a tool to continue pursuing her passion for writing. During the time I’ve worked with her, she’s been an avid user of Google Docs for her writing as well as joining a writing group through YouTube. She has found it extremely rewarding to be able to further connect with people through technology.
As our conversation came to an end, a big takeaway Mary shared was that “It’s okay to do it at your own pace. Learning that I can do it. Even if it’s not to the extent others can. Basically, I can do things.’ She mentioned that putting herself out there has been a big thing. After learning about LBFE and working with us students, she was very pleasantly surprised to learn that people our age would want to work with older adults and get to know them. Some last pieces of advice she shared for older adults and young adults was ‘to understand the importance of keeping yourself active and to continue learning new things.’
Thank you for sharing your story with me, Mary!