Matney: Wisdom from seniors |

Matney: Wisdom from seniors

It is a joy of mine to lead 4 Eagle Senior Care, a local, faith-based, nonprofit ministry supported by various local churches, other organizations and individuals. 4 Eagle Senior Care brings volunteer services and inter-denominational ministry to the elderly and their families in the Vail and Eagle River Valley.

A favorite activity of mine in leading this ministry is listening to the seniors’ stories. Each senior has a unique story to tell if we’re patient enough to listen to them. Here are three of my favorite stories. Some of these dear seniors have passed on, but their stories are still just as precious as when I first heard them.


Sometimes a senior’s speech is slow and rambling but hearing about their lives, including their jobs and careers, can be fascinating. Many locals worked at the Gilman Mine, the Climax Mine and other mines in our area. Also, many were farmers, ranchers and railroad workers. Hearing the details of their work years can be pretty fascinating.

Roy was a career military man and a fighter pilot. He flew many missions over Vietnam. He has a great sense of humor. He says they took his driver’s license away but he still has his pilot’s license! Another gentleman is a very independent 100-year old. He won’t let you help him with his coat and is offended if you try to walk him to his daughter’s car. He was a banker, specializing in agricultural and ranching loans.

One of the more unique careers was held by a lady from the Czech Republic. She told me she had been an announcer for fashion shows, but she had to announce them in five different languages at times! The languages included German, English, French, Russian and Swedish. She said she was exhausted after each show!

In the garden

In a guided exercise of creating a family tree, Paul could not remember some of his family’s names. He was troubled and agitated that he could not remember such important information and his face reflected his anguish.

A little later, Rebecca left the room and the seniors began asking, “Where is Rebecca?” Someone said, “Rebecca is in the garden.” The garden was a small plot of vegetables the seniors had planted as one of their activities.

Several people began singing the old hymn, “In the Garden.” I picked it up on my guitar and when we got to the chorus, “And He walks with me and He talks with me…” Paul began singing out loudly, remembering every word of the chorus! There was such joy that came over his face; I was amazed to see the transformation. When we finished the song, everyone began clapping for him and telling him how great he had done. He was beaming! I was thankful to bring a little joy to his troubled heart.

Remove the dead-end street signs

The Golden Eagle Senior Center, in Eagle, is on a dead-end street. A street sign reading “DEAD END” greeted visitors as they turned onto the street to the center. Just across the road, up on a hill looking down on the senior center, is Sunset View Cemetery. Four seniors had just recently passed away.

A prominent speaker came to the center to greet the seniors. The speaker was praising the amenities and beauty of Eagle County: “People come here to die,” the speaker said, meaning, of course, that people like the area and come here to stay — but it was the wrong thing to say at the senior center!

One of the seniors went to local officials and said, “Come on! With our recent deaths, the cemetery looking down on us and a speaker reminding us people come here to die; do we have to be told we’re on a dead-end street?! The officials removed the dead-end street sign!

This humorous but true story illustrates the purpose of 4 Eagle Senior Care: We exist to help remove the “DEAD END” street signs in a senior’s life. God has a purpose for each senior and through Jesus Christ, there are no dead ends, only abundant, eternal life now and forever.  

Thank you, pastors, churches and others for making it possible to capture these unique and special stories from the lives of our precious seniors. God bless you!

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