“Every time an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.”

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”– Rudyard Kipling

The Power to Transform

Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, and challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Our storytelling ability, a uniquely human trait, has been with us as long as we’ve been able to speak and listen. Not only do people love to tell stories, people love to hear stories!

Listen to this tiny story of Betty Meeks, who lives at Peachtree Village in Roswell New Mexico.  What a wonderful tiny story from Mrs. Meeks’ library of her lifetime! (read the transcription below the story)


Betty Meeks, storyteller

Rusty, Dusty, and the shoe

I named the story “Rusty, Dusty, and the shoe.”

Betty Meeks Tiny Stories-page-001[1]I taught first grade and one day, while the children were out playing during the lunch hour I was in my room grading papers. One of my little girls came in crying and I asked her what was wrong. She said, “Rusty and Dusty got my shoe and threw it over the fence!’

So I went out with her and I went over into the vacant lot and got her shoe, brought it back and gave it to her. I was not saying a word to the boys. They had seen me come out, so they knew that I knew what had happened.

So I let them play, and when the bell rang to come in and resume classes I brought my children in, got the rest of the class seated, and assigned them some spelling words to work on. Then I took the two little boys, which were identical twins down to the Principal’s office. They stood before the Principal’s desk, and I stood beside them and told the Principal what had happened. Then I stepped behind them because I wanted him to have their full attention.

So he said, “Did you really do that to Julie?” One little twin said, “Oh we didn’t, we didn’t,” and the other one popped in and he said, “Oh yes we did!” I was so shocked and amused that I had to clamp my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.

Well, the Principal went ahead and reprimanded the children, and I think he gave them a swat. Then he said, “You boys go back to your room and sit down and get to work, I want to talk to your teacher.” And so they left, and the Principal said, “Mrs. Meeks, in the future, when you bring children down, please do not stand behind them and laugh. Couldn’t you tell how hard it was for me to keep a straight face?” I said, “Yes, I saw it.” Well, we both had a good laugh and I went back to my class.


“Every time an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.”  African Proverb

The Elders are truly ‘human libraries’  with stories ripe for harvesting! I just got back from a community in Illinois and was captivated by the tiny stories I heard.

We have a unique opportunity to harvest the wisdom, the humor, and memories we hear every day. We are in relationship with elders who have journeyed almost a full century on this planet. Through their stories, we connect with one another while giving our resident storytellers the opportunity to reconnect with what was once taken for granted. We give them the opportunity to share their memories for generations to come. And, the tiny stories can be preserved forever in digital media and libraries.

Through the simple process of capturing these adventures, challenges, and wisdom acquired on their life journey –  we create a profoundly enriching experience for both the storyteller and the recorder.


To hear more tiny stories from Elder Storytellers around the United states go to the Tiny Stories Page, and get ready to smile, and be filled with the legacies of elderhood preserved here.

If you are interested in preserving your own tiny stories, or the stories of someone you love, please contact me, and I will be happy to help you save your library of tiny stories too!


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 health care 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.

Campground Conversations – Elder storyteller

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”– Rudyard Kipling

Every year, my son and I celebrate by doing something we both love…camping, kayaking, being in nature, and experiencing things together for just 24-36 hours a year!  This year, after work, we headed up to Door County Peninsula Park in Wisconsin.

door-peninsula-state-park-wi

It was a dark and rainy evening. We arrived at our campground by Rowley’s Bay, WI. The wonderful ladies who checked us in told us everything we needed or wanted to know about what was in the area and where we could grab a great meal.

Unfortunately, we didn’t think we would make the renowned Fish Boil and performance that was down the road via a trail through the woods. After settling in, we decided to head down the trail, (the rain had stopped for us) and at least get the dinner if we missed the “performance”.

We arrived at the Inn,  and walked inside, quietly joining the crowd that was intently listening to the story that was being told.

In the center of this crowd was a man sitting backwards on his roller walker. We caught the last third of the story, but we looked at each other and knew—we had stumbled into something really awesome and special. This story telling gentleman was filling the space  with his rich voice and using his hands to help envision what he was sharing. My son and I became instantly enthralled with his story and his large capable hands that showed all the signs of an experienced, full life.

eileen-story-teller

He told the story of the history of the bay and surrounding area. He was a descendant of the original family who settled the area. He told the story about the beginnings of a fish boil and what to expect once we all gathered outside around the cauldron.

I don’t remember how old he said he was,it didn’t matter.  What mattered was my son and I were able to have this memorable experience together–witnessing the amazing gift of a wise and talented story teller – way up north at the end of the Door County peninsula, at a campground—in a Yurt.

Now this unforgettable elder is part of our story.

Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, and challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Our storytelling ability, a uniquely ancient human trait, has been with us as long as we’ve been able to speak and listen. Not only do people love to tell stories, people love to hear stories!

I work at Carolina Assisted Living in Appleton, WI.  We have an exciting opportunity to harvest the wisdom, the humor, and memories we hear every day. We live and work beside elders who have journeyed almost a full century on this planet. Through their stories, we connect with one another while giving our resident storytellers the gift of reconnecting   with us, their children, and grandchildren for generations to come.


We are preserving stories in audio, video, and written form to cherish these precious moments!

“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” – Dalai Lama

Learn more about legacy collection and the Tiny Stories project!     Watch and listen to this 50 second Tiny Story gift from Nancy Youngans, who tells us about her trip to Verona Italy, and what she learned.


About the author:  Eileen English is the administrator at Carolina Assisted Living in Appleton Wisconsin.  (Carolina is part of the Compass Senior Living family)

Eileen  has worked with elders for more than 40 years and feels her work is a passion, not a job. She was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and later became a Coast Guard wife – eileen-wilsonwhich took her all over the country. She has lived in many states but is happy to now be in Wisconsin near two of her grandchildren. In her free time, Eileen enjoys being outside hiking, kayaking and camping, and spending time with her two sons and three grandchildren.

Thanksgiving of Goodness and Gratitude

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Albert Schweitzer

Today I am celebrating all the previous moments of goodness and joy in my Compass Senior Living Family.   Gratitude is a wonderful way to grow more beauty into our lives!

When I look back 3 years ago when Compass Senior Living was first formed, there were just four of us, and we were attracted to the possibility of working together to build a company with authentic leaders and a common purpose. Our core values have continued to be paramount in all of our decision-making, as we have committed to maintain a focus on our ‘True North,” which is goodness.

Our decisions have been guided by our core values – goodness, loyalty, faith and fun. It has been humbling to see that this clear direction and focus on what is right, and proper, and good  has attracted incredible leaders, investors, partners, care team members, families, and residents to join Compass Senior Living on our journey.

As we have grown with grace over the past 3 years, our Compass Senior Living family is honored today to serve almost 700 elders and their families.

Goodness and Gratitude.  That is how I would describe the journey these past three years.  I think I speak for the rest of our team when I express our deep gratitude to our President, Dennis Garboden, and Vice President, Will Forsyth for having the faith to begin again – and inviting us to innovate, create, and celebrate this adventure! Thank you Dennis and Will, for “rekindling the spark, and lighting the flame” within us!

As a gift to you today, I have been transcribing some of our resident’s audio clip stories for our Tiny Stories project, and have two to share.

We are building a ‘Tiny Stories’ library to preserve the voices and the legacies of the awe-inspiring elders we have the opportunity to get to know and learn from.  I will let you know when the library is complete, and when all the stories from our communities are posted.

This Thanksgiving week I thought it fitting that I share the audio clips of  Ruby Sims tiny stories.   Her voice and her laughter express  gratitude  that  is a joy to hear. 


Ruby Sims – Resident at Marla Vista Gardens, Green Bay Wisconsin

About Ruby:   Ruby  moved to Green Bay from Berlin, Wisconsin but she was born in Winner, South Dakota. She attended school in Chamberlain, South Dakota and has one year of college. Her past occupations were: piano teacher, bridal seamstress and a sales associate at Sears. She has two daughters named Melody and Joy.  She also use to play the trumpet. She enjoys gospel, oldies and folk music. Her favorite singer is Frankie Valli and her favorite movie is the The Sound of Music. She crochets and one great achievement is that she crocheted 500 baby hats for Meriter Hospital; she received an award for this.

Thankful

ruby“Well I grew up in the state of South Dakota, and I had a couple of brothers and a couple of sisters. My mother was a very lovely woman. I am very thankful for the parents that I had. Very thankful for the parents I had. Not every body can say that. I am very thankful for them. I am very thankful for the life that I’ve had. But I gave my heart to the Lord at a very young age. I think I was 7 years old when I said, “Yes Lord, I am yours.”

Ruby Sims, Piano teacher

Piano Teacherplayingpiano

“My name is Ruby Ann Sims, and I am a piano teacher, or was a piano teacher. I haven’t been doing it for a while, but I could still do it. I am just thankful for what the Lord has allowed me to do. He has always been a big part of my life.”

(Piano music is  Ruby playing in 2016 at Marla Vista Gardens in Green Bay, Wisconsin)

“Every time an old person dies, a library burns to the ground”   African proverb


About the Author:    Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living, located in 11062337_10206528118188840_645394201235573404_nEugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for profit health care 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.