They say it’s never too late to follow your dreams. For some of us who might be getting up there in age, that’s a good mantra to follow.
The golden years aren’t just about sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch. Although that’s not a bad way to spend a few hours each week.
More and more often these days, we’re seeing senior citizens who are still involved with their long-time jobs. Or who are doing something significant during their retirement.
These folks are an inspiration to us. Yes, they’ve earned the right to spend more time relaxing than they used to. But they also know there are some things they have not yet accomplished.
Overcoming a Speech Impediment
There are many examples of senior citizens who are continuing to make their mark in the world. Often for the benefit of others.
But I’ll just mention a few of them today. One is Donzella Washington. She had a speech impediment as a child that wreaked havoc with her confidence.
It wasn’t until Donzella was in her 30s that she decided to get help. The Los Angeles native took speech classes at the College of the Sequoias in California.
By this time, she and her husband were living on a farm in Pixley, California. They fostered more than 30 children. Some of whom enjoyed successful careers in law and education.
Pursuing a Degree in Her 70s
Once her husband passed away, Donzella moved to Alabama to live with her daughter.
Thinking about what she had missed during her late teens and early 20s, she decided to pursue a college degree. Despite the fact that she was now in her 70s.
She learned that Alabama A&M University was offering a satellite program through Lawson State Community College.
So, Donzella enrolled in 2013. Using encouragement she had received from her late husband, she persevered.
Sharing Her Dream With Others
Six years later, Donzella joined 400 other students on the commencement stage to get her diploma. The social work major graduated magna cum laude with a 3.69 grade point average.
Kimberly Washington is her daughter. She said, “I have seen her work tirelessly to achieve this dream. And to finally be there to see her was a very proud moment.”
So, 80-year-old Donzella can now sit in that rocking chair for the rest of her life, right? Nope. She’s planning to return to school to get a master’s degree.
Donzella has another goal as well. To travel across the country, visiting nursing homes. She wants to encourage residents to go back to school.
A Figure Skating Fan
Not every achievement a senior citizen can strive for has to be as life-changing as what Donzella experienced.
Some people just decide they’ve ignored one of their life goals for long enough. And that it’s time to finally go after it.
That’s what occurred with Rob Proctor. He grew up in Greeley, Colorado. He had always enjoyed watching figure skating on television.
Rob was particularly enamored with figure skating greats. Such as Olympic champion and three-time world champion Peggy Fleming.
Out on the Ice… Finally
But Rob did not have access to an ice arena during his youth. As one year led into another, he realized his dream of skating might never become a reality.
Especially as he got busy with other things. Such as providing gardening tips and tricks for television viewers in the Denver area.
In his late 60s, Rob decided he wasn’t getting any younger. “I think I wanted to start skating because I wanted to prove that I wasn’t old,” he said.
So, he took skating lessons, got through a 2018 injury and is still lacing up his skates in his 70s. Rob may never reach the Olympics, but he learned it’s never too late to follow your heart.
Barber’s Retirement Short-Lived
Sometimes senior citizens believe they’re ready to retire. But then they discover that working makes them happier than relaxing.
That’s what 91-year-old Belmont, North Carolina resident Doug Brewer decided. He recently stepped away from his space in the former Belmont General Store to end a lengthy career as a barber.
Or so he thought. “Retirement got old real quick,” he said. So, Doug is handling clippers, scissors and combs again.
And his longtime customers are glad. “It’s real fine that he’s back,” one of his regulars said.
World War II Vet Still Clipping Away
Back in 1944, 16-year-old Doug was anxious to serve America in World War II. So, he forged a birth certificate and joined the Navy.
Doug served on a battleship, an aircraft carrier and a submarine. He learned to cut hair while in the Navy, although he was never officially classified as a barber.
Doug says that through the years he has cut the hair of many dignitaries and renowned individuals.
They include broadcast journalist Edward Murrow. And NASCAR drivers Junior Johnson, Joe Weatherly, Curtis Turner and Fireball Roberts.
Doug isn’t planning to retire again anytime soon. “I might as well keep doing what I love,” he said.