Column: Not boring conversations

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Commentary by Lorene Burkhart

After settling into my retirement community, I began organizing some fun activities that would encourage folks to have meaningful conversations. I was certain that the geographical diversity of our residents would provide a rich composite of thoughts.

Each group has 12 people who meet for dinner twice a month with a specific topic for conversation. The group decides the topic for the next discussion so we have a couple of weeks to think about it.

Recently, when the topic was patriotism, a 90-year-old gentleman who was born, raised and educated in Nazi Germany before coming to the U.S. to spend the rest of his life as a research scientist, explained the difference between nationalism (Nazi Germany) and patriotism, (U.S.). It was most enlightening and provided a perspective that caused us to think about our own heritage.

Another time we shared who was most influential in our lives. We heard from a retired Wisconsin minister, a former Ohio corporate executive, a lady from Chicago who has created a marvelous collection of miniatures and the rest of us who were equally interesting. As we shared our stories we had a wonderful glimpse into the rich lives of residents who were influenced by teachers, family members and friends.

The second group has been getting acquainted by sharing their stories – where they were born, raised and lived their lives. One lady, recently from Palo Alto, Calif., lived many years in Lima, Peru, with her professor husband. Another lady discovered that she and two other residents grew up within 50 miles of each other in Oklahoma and also share a Cherokee heritage. We’ve also explored the word “trust” and what it means to us personally.

This week we’re sharing stories of our favorite vacation. Just thinking about picking one has caused me to review years of fabulous travel with friends and family. I’ve finally decided to tell about a hilarious week in Colorado with girlfriends when we were all much younger. I can hardly wait to hear the other stories. Nothing boring here!


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