Been there. Done that.
Been there. Done that.
Every work day for nearly 20 years, Doreen Wingate gets into her car and drives to 1544 Market Street in Redding. She arrives at 8:45 a.m. and for the next three to four hours, proceeds to assemble open charts, sticker them with appropriate information, do the mail-outs for doctors and their orders, and then post the NOEs (Notice of Elections) detailing those patients who have elected for hospice care. At some point, she might have a cup of hot tea. If all this sounds a bit mundane, it is. Until you realize that Doreen is 92 years old. At an age when many of her peers are content to simply stay put, Doreen is on the go. She works, she travels, and she is a part-time employee of Mercy Hospice.
I spoke with Doreen last week to find out the key to her longevity. Her voice lilting with the vestiges of an English accent, she spoke fondly of first becoming a volunteer more than a quarter of a century ago. It began shortly after her husband died. She went to the local mall to volunteer with Lifeline Life Alert, delivering devices to those in need. Her dedication evolved and soon she was volunteering with Mercy Hospice and Home Care. Nearly 20 years ago, they asked her to become an employee. It’s a continuation of a life well-lived.
“I was a GI bride,” Doreen explained. “I lied about my age and went into the British Army at 16. I met my husband, who was from Virginia, and stationed in England. We fell in love and when the war was over, we moved to the U.S.” For a while her husband worked delivering mail but he soon tired of that and rejoined the military. Every few years he was transferred to a new base. They assimilated and lived happily, having three children before they came back to the States.
“I moved 42 times,” Doreen said, laughing. “As I like to say, there’s not a stove I haven’t used.”
When her husband retired from the military, they bought a 31-foot Airstream, and hit the road, working for the travel trailer company, repairing awnings for other Airstream owners. She got used to living on the road, and loved the wall oven inside her trailer. Eventually they sold the Airstream, retired again, and settled down in Redding because one of their daughters lived nearby, in Old Station.
A quarter century later, Doreen Wingate is still here. She continues to travel, but she’s also equally content to stay home and enjoy the health and longevity this life has brought to her.
What’s her secret? She says “the only thing I do is drink a cup of hot water every morning.”
When I asked if she had any plans to retire, she was non-committal. “I’ve thought about it,” she said. “But I’ve retired before.”
In other words, been there, done that.