Edith, Denise, and Me – “I live every day like it is the FIRST day of my life!”


As I travel around the country, my greatest pleasure is connecting with elders living in our communities.  If the community has an available apartment I stay as a guest. I visited Majestic Rim Retirement Community in Payson Arizona and met Denise and Edith.  I recorded Denise and Edith’s stories for our Tiny Stories™ program and then Edith invited us to go hot-tubbing. We laughed as Edith showed us how she could still raise her feet above her head.

As we soaked in the hot tub we shared stories and talked about life.  Edith said, “You know, I believe in life before death.”   I said, “Really, tell me more!”  She shared more of her personal stories of both hardship and joy.  Edith reflected that life is a journey of mountaintops and valleys.  She said living in the present is the key.

“Today is the day where we have a choice to find our happiness.”  She said, “I live each day like it is the first day of the rest of my adventure!”

The next day, I hugged Edith and thanked her.   I told her that her life-example had a profound effect on me.

As I left Arizona to go home, I pondered my own life.  Living each day like it is my FIRST means not looking back with regret and  wishing  I ‘would have’ or ‘could have.’   I recognized I was free to continually reach out to newer, richer, deeper, life-changing experiences.

As human beings, we are most fully alive when we are changing and growing and stretching our boundaries in our quest to be all we are meant to be physically, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.  Edith, in her 9th decade, was living a vibrant, joyful, generous, and adventurous life every day.

My short visit with Edith and Denise was a big ‘aha’ for me!  Yes, life-affirming words from a wise. sassy, beautiful elder.

Jean Garboden, Director of Education & Innovation at Compass Senior Living

About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit healthcare organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living. Jean lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she enjoys the weather and volunteers with the Nevadans for the Common Good, advocating for caregivers and elders in southern Nevada

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