Valley Life for All: Norma Stanton is a picture of optimism and resilience

Annie Uyehara
Valley Life for All
Norma Stanton repaired musical instruments in her husband’s music store for 20 years.
Annie Uyehara/Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: the Vail Daily, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, publishes a monthly series about fostering inclusion.

Norma Stanton just had a double total knee replacement. Who does that, anyway? That’s a crazy-difficult operation. Yet, Norma, who is 84 years old and three weeks post-operation, is walking around town, doing errands.

Norma has held tubas up long enough to roll the dents out of them; she still drives her lawnmower around in her big yard in the mountains, and cleans her large home by herself and drives 2.5 hours to see her daughter.

“I’m a good old country gal,” says the gregarious Norma. “I can pretty much do anything.”

As she reflects on this stage of her life, she says she doesn’t care if people call her a senior, elderly, an older adult.

Support Local Journalism

“The phrasing matters not a bit to me. I am what I am.”

She considers herself nothing special, but she’s a picture of resilience and optimism, which go a long way for anyone facing a challenge.

Norma had a unique job, especially for women in the 1960s: She repaired musical instruments in her husband’s music store for 20 years. Besides rolling out dents in tubas, she enjoyed repairing woodwinds, since she played the clarinet.

There was no void in her life once she quit her job. Besides her family, her grandchildren and her great grandchild, she has time to be with her friends. She dispenses wisdom when she says, “You know what’s the most important thing in life to have? Friends. I still have the friends I did when I first came here and I haven’t had any of ’em quit me,” she says, laughing. “Friends are invaluable, I’d put my life in their hands. They’re here to support me, to hold me when I cry, just about anything.”

Norma has seen a lot of changes in her long life. A lot of them she dislikes, but so much of them she does like, because it’s moving forward that keeps her optimistic.

She doesn’t have anything to offer for advice. “Do you think I’m old enough to give advice? C’mon!” She grins.

But she naturally speaks of what’s good for us all. She’s proud that she’s thriving at 84 years of age.

“I’m stubborn, I’m not going to have it any other way. It’s what’s to come that keeps me alive. You can have sadness in your life, but you can’t dwell there, you gotta look forward to the future. I’m happy just to look forward to what can be.”

Support Local Journalism