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What is a Life Well Lived?

Several months ago, I read in the newspaper that one of our clients, Mrs. M., had passed away.  The loss of any of our clients is always a moment of mixed emotions for me. Of course, I am saddened because our world is just a little less bright because of the loss. On the one hand, I am proud that we at SCI have been given the opportunity to help people age successfully with the highest quality of life possible.    

But on this day there was another layer of emotion for me…a true sense of frustration. Mrs. M., whom I had treasured visiting when delivering her meals, had led a remarkable life of adventure, family, and achievement. Why was it only now, reading her obituary, that I learned these stories?  Why had she passed without my hearing from her about the lessons she had learned throughout her life, which was indeed so well lived?

At SCI, our vision is for everyone to have a life well lived. I am a little embarrassed to say that while I have always embraced this vision, it was the loss of Mrs. M. that truly brought this ideal to life to me and made me want to define what constitutes a life well lived. Is it the things we accomplish? The places we travel and the adventures we have? The mark we leave on our community? The number of lives we touch? 

Even after months of contemplation, I still don’t have a definitive answer. And maybe there isn’t just one. Each of us has different values and beliefs regarding what it means to have “a life well lived.” Therefore, being able to realize that vision successfully will be different for each of us. What I do know, however, is that regardless of what barometer we set for our own well-lived life, we can ensure our success by taking the time to learn about the lives of others, by celebrating them, and by gleaning lessons to incorporate into our own journey.

This is one of the reasons that SCI has created the “Legends, Leaders, and Life Well Lived” Award.  Our goal is to celebrate folks in our own community who can serve as examples for us all. We began by asking the public to nominate people who personified for them a “life well lived.” It was a simple nomination form – just tell us why you feel your nominee exemplifies this ideal. The response was overwhelming and, needless to say, the selection of our awardees for this year was an incredibly difficult task. 

I am so pleased to share that we will be celebrating Irene Johnson and Ed Wexler at the award luncheon on May 11. Without a doubt, both Mrs. Johnson and Colonel Wexler personify lives well lived. They have lives built around caring for and service to others, and both have tried — and succeeded — in making their parts of our world better places, and they continue to do so.

Mrs. Johnson worked in the classroom and as a social worker for more than 30 years helping those with developmental disabilities. She is the matriarch of a family whose members brim with love for her, and she is a person of grace with a huge smile and the family-given nickname of “Chuck E. Cheese.” Colonel Wexler is served in the Air Force and retired from the National Guard.  He continues to serve those who serve our country by leading efforts such as feeding homeless veterans and helping raise funds for organizations that support active and retired service men and women and their families. His belief in service to others emanates from him, and he has the quick smile that reveals the joy he finds in doing so.

I know that I speak for all of us at SCI when I say that we are honored to recognize both Mrs. Johnson and Colonel Wexler at the inaugural Legends, Leaders, and Life Well Lived Award Luncheon on Friday, May 11. Their journeys thus far contain myriad lessons to inspire us all. I thank you, Mrs. Johnson and Colonel Wexler, for allowing us to celebrate not only you and the ideal of a life well lived, but also to celebrate with you.

For more information about the Legends, Leaders, and Life Well Lived Award and Luncheon, call SCI at 912-236-0363 or visit our website: www.seniorcitizensinc.org