This year marks the 60th anniversary of Older Americans Month, as President Biden wrote in his recent presidential proclamation on the occasion. Thirty-three years ago, President George Bush, Sr., observed that Americans age 85 and older constituted one of the fastest growing segments of our population and that 1 in 5 Americans would soon be age 65 or older. Indeed, several years ago, I observed some of my friends retiring. Although they seemed happy to do so, I hoped and prayed that I still had many years of working ahead of me. Deep down, I felt that there was a chapter of my life that had not yet been written. I wasn’t certain what the story and adventure might be, and I thought about it for a number of years.
I have been a harp student ever since my husband’s untimely death from cancer in 2015. I had played the harp as a child and yet, as life-responsibilities grew, I had taken a hiatus for many years. Following the loss of my husband and my parents, I decided to take up the hobby again to divert my thoughts and to avoid escaping my grief by watching TV reruns at night. One day, a dear friend asked me to play the harp for her daughter’s wedding. Then, leaders of a retirement community asked me to play for an event for their residents. As the idea started catching on, the pandemic halted the possibility of playing more places. But, as things improved, I eventually was asked to play at more retirement homes, community events, and dance recitals, etc. Voila! I had found the pen to start writing the next chapter of my career by adding harp performances to ADSLA’s menu of services.
As President Bush wrote in 1990, “millions of older Americans are now remaining in the work force past the traditional “retirement age.” Indeed, many are pursuing second careers, while others continue to enrich our communities and country through volunteer work – and/or by quietly devoting their time to family and friends. Not long ago, U.S. News & World Report noted that many older workers move into a new field before retiring. The national magazine listed 15 “In-Demand Jobs for Seniors,” and I was delighted to see musician listed among them.