The American Association of Retired People (AARP) conducts a yearly contest called the Real People (Over Fifty) Model Search. 6,000 people responded to the question: “What does it mean to live your best life after 50?” “There were amazing stories of courage in the face of adversity, of finding new purpose, and rediscovering love in the second half of life.” Seven winners were selected. Here’s a little about each one of them.
Cosette Bonjour, 61, lives in Hawaii.To her, living life to the fullest means serving others and bringing out their beauty. (How great is that?). After losing two husbands, she is grateful everyday for what she has and grateful that she has the power to create a new life for herself. She is training to be a life coach and wants to help others deal with their grief.
Richard Bucci is 54, and lives in North Carolina. As a firefighter he saw it all; extreme heroism, life, and death. After suffering from cancer, a separated shoulder, and a hip replacement, he is still doing what he loves most; he is still a firefighter. Seeing as much death and suffering as he has, just the fact of being alive gives every day new meaning. There isn’t a day that he doesn’t hug his wife and tell her how much he loves her.
Linda Wilson, 72, lives in North Carolina. Her life was was a good one until she got divorced in her mid ’40′s. After 50, she lost her job, had serious back problems and had a heart attack, which needed two stents. Then, after 2 knee replacements, she moved to North Carolina to a beach community, and she knew no one. She started her own business providing caregivers to people after serious surgeries. Her business became profitable and she sold it at a profit after only 5 years. In some ways she feels like she” is really really living for the first time. ” She loves to dance, kayak and learn new things every day.
Alfredo Martinez, 72, lives in Los Angeles. After serving in the war, Alfredo came back and got married and had two daughters. Growing up in South Central LA, he never had the chance to go to college, but he made sure his daughters did. He worked in a Corporation for years, but after 9/11, he changed. It felt like life was short, so he started doing new things, like: lifting weights, swimming, biking, painting and drawing. He also started acting classes and still doesn’t know what he wants to be, but that is what he finds so beautiful about this time. When he was young he wanted to be old, now, he’s old but he feels so young.
Marguerite La Marque, 91 is from Massachusetts. She is THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE WINNER. She admits she has good genes, but she never smoked, drank alcohol, or did drugs. Her religion was very important to her, she is Catholic. She thought she might want to be a nun when she was a teenager, but she didn’t because she wanted to have children. She lives by life’s simple truths: Listen carefully to others, take pleasure in the little things, and keep busy. (She has 5 children, so that’s not hard). Most of all, set high standards for yourself and always strive to live up to them. ”Your children, your family, your community…they will notice.”
J.Pat Branch is 65 and lives in Kimberly Idaho. After spending 17 months in Viet Nam, he won the Distinguished Flying Cross, and three Purple Hearts. He doesn’t think of himself of a hero. After the war, he assisted in veteran’s advocacy, and assisted veterans in receiving health and financial benefits for 40 decades. He has also donated his time to food banks, homeless shelters, and church activities. He feels like he has been given a dozen chances and “getting older means not wasting what you have been given.” “You should always do something”.
Kim Dillard is 51, and lives in Houston. Kim was a late bloomer. She waited until 39 to get married and had her daughter at 40. Then, at 50 she began pursuing her dream. Her sister called her one morning and told her that she had a dream about starting a faith-based television network for the urban community. That’s what they did and now TheRejoiceNetwork.com streams 24 hours of programming for urban audiences. She is hoping to pass on to her daughter and others her faith and fearlessness. Whatever she does today, she asks herself:” Am I having fun?, Am I making a difference?” As life goes on she hopes to answer with a BIG yes!!