Assisted living residents share life stories in published book
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough – A six-month Writers’ Roundtable culminated with a book publication party Dec. 7 at Whitney Place Assisted Living Residences at Northborough. “Our Stories, Our Lives” is a collection of autobiographical essays written by residents Pat Caldwell, Shirley Cranford, Ann Falco, Marge Ferguson and Virginia MacDonald. Instructing the course was Dr. Lucia Knoles, a professor of English at Assumption College in Worcester.
“I was very impressed with this group,” she said. “They always listened to each other’s stories and offered very thoughtful responses. They were writing surprisingly good stories from the start. All of these women have had very rich lives.”
When the group met weekly, the participants read and discussed writings of published authors on a particular topic such as a childhood home. Then they wrote about that topic for the next week’s meeting. Prior to gathering collectively, they could visit Knoles for individual attention during her office hours.
“They could drop in one-on-one and talk about their drafts,” Knoles said. “And if they have a hard time writing because of physical problems, they could tell me their story and I typed it out for them.”
The Writers’ Roundtable followed several key principles. Everyone has a story to tell, which deserves to be heard. By exploring and telling their stories, they continued to learn and gain respect. They built a sense of community while exchanging their writings within the group. And by passing their memoirs to loved ones, they gave a legacy that only they could offer.
Knoles noted that the residents would joke about her instructing writers above the usual college age.
“I always told them that I wish I had college students who were as passionate about learning and challenges as they are,” she relayed. “They’re very bright and ready to keep learning. It’s important to have opportunities for them to keep growing intellectually. And it’s important for their families, the staff and the other residents to realize what people that age can still accomplish.”
At the publication party, the authors shared some of their stories from the book with help from Knoles. After six months of experience with the Writers’ Roundtable, the participants might not have written their final stories.
“Some of them decided they need to keep writing and they’re talking about trying to continue,” Knoles said.
To order “Our Stories, Our Lives” for $10, call Marketing Director Trish Pope for information at 508-351-9013, ext. 4261.
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