Remnants – Ready for New Life
Kiki Swanson (Brooks Goldmann, $19.95)
This captivating volume will appeal to lovers of warm climates, active retirement communities, volunteerism, paying it forward and living life to the fullest in retirement.
In early 2004, Daisy Mac Duff moved into the active and well-appointed retirement community of La Ventura located in Scottsdale, AZ. She left behind many friends over the years when she moved with her husband on many transfers, eventually moving to the desert of AZ.
Her children also live in AZ and, on occasion, keep her busy with their lives. But Daisy needs the camaraderie of “soul” mates, friends her age who share happy memories of her past and her current pursuit of happiness.
Her grief for her husband had consumed several years of her life and now it is time to share her future with friends, new and old. She seeks the companionship of her women friends from all parts of the country by writing and asking them to join her in Scottsdale.
Soon a strong and steady flow of letters begin to appear in her mailbox. Both the flamboyant red-head pianist Clarissa and the demure preacher’s wife Beth write immediately. Others come in as quickly as you can say “out west”, such as Martha, the one seeking a new AA recovery group.
Daisy accumulates the letters, which often stretch into reminiscing of old places that bring back memories, such as with Mary Ann, Martha’s sister. While some were meant to just read and smile or listen to what was really being said. Beth is one of those with her quiet tone and gentle way.
From the window of Daisy’s retirement life at La Ventura you sense her yearning for the friendships she knew in the past with each of these women responding. You will visualize Daisy with her friends enjoying their later years being productive in community while dealing with what life gives out. Practicing her mother’s philosophy, Daisy learns again how to accept life without losing her own character as some say yes and some say no to her suggestion to community life with her and the others.
You imagine the startling effects of a group of women coming together by one woman’s will to make them a family. This joining of creative, active, senior women together in a new life with a fresh start from a divorce or widowhood, retirement alone or loneliness of any kind, gives them “wind at their backs”. They go into the unknown of “later in life” friendships in a commune environment. With Daisy behind them, pushing them with a force in the direction of giving back, serving God and enjoying every moment as if it were their destiny is their new life.
This is the story of a community formed and developed by a bunch of well educated, interesting, creative and productive caring women who with no real plans for their later years take a “leap of faith” and let a long time friend bring them together. Because of this, they later will write their recipes for success, their ideas for mentoring, their last wishes, their obituaries and their insights and feelings about things they hold dear in their Tuesdays at Three writing group.
Some still have strong feelings and reservations about the success of the idea, such as the couple of men Daisy befriends early in the story. But at the onset, the five of nine women who say yes “let’s just do it” are more than happy to reach out to others and not isolate elsewhere. The men in turn become vital to the women’s friendships.
Here you will learn about many things, from loss and grief (incurred by all of them) to alcoholism (the elements of AA) to the medical issues too familiar to all of us. The spring writing group for life’s philosophies gives many insights into all of them, and surely in to you too.
It is a satisfying and rewarding read and you get the feeling they are having a really wonderful time living out their lives together in a “village.” Being grateful for everyday, their mantra is to rise above the past, adjust to change and hear the music. If humor and good taste can be a contradiction in terms, Remnants defies the idea and makes you smile as you look for the sunshine in life.
Kiki Swanson is fearless as she addresses real issues for all seniors (Baby Boomer types too) such as divorce, widowhood, alcoholism, dating, health restraints and life’s disappointments while believing resiliency is the key. There is a lot of good old fashioned fun here that anyone considering a retirement community or living in one now can relate to on many levels. Maybe the putting of these things in writing, including their last wishes, is more entertainment than any part of sadness and is what endears them to us.
One of my favorite parts of the story is the thread that weaves their leader Daisy and her perseverance in making things happen, sharing conversation with her dog Curly and learning late in life of her husband’s “secret life” and her son’s need for “care and understanding.” The mystery and unveiling is part of the intrigue.
Remnants-ready for new life acknowledges that it is not above the fray of recognizing the human frailty in all of us. Everyone has moments of despair and sadness, coupled with anger. Realizing in this read that it is in fact the ride of taking us “home” to our friends and faith in our “golden years” that sustains us, Kiki Swanson shows us it is possible to succeed to the end.
We have all spiraled out of the darkness of grief and divorce or alcoholism or life’s disappointments and up into something beautiful because someone listened. We have all known love because someone cared, someone was there when we prayed about it and God answered.
Surely Remnants-ready for new life will be that kind of eye opening, heartwarming book you want with the memory of your life. This work and these stories will help you put the past right where it belongs and your life ready for the surprises that lay ahead.
Patricia L. Brooks, MAOM
Publishing Consultant, Author, Speaker
BROOKS GOLDMANN PUBLISHING, LLC
[email protected] or www.kikiswansonbooks.com for more information or books