Stretching the mind, measuring by the yard
The following was written by Carol Page, member of the KU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
In January 2020, beginning my second year of retirement from 31 years as a realtor, I was excited to begin online classes with KU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The hook was ‘no tests, no homework, just learning for the joy of learning!’
The first class held in Lawrence was so interesting that I stopped in Basehor on the way home to share the class news with my longtime friend, Anna Mary, who is nearly 102 years old. She was quickly caught up in my enthusiasm about the Osher course, You'll Wanna Know This About Your Aging Brain, and announced that she would like to join me for the next two class sessions.
We both love learning and found the class very entertaining, especially with Anna Mary there! No doubt she added a bit of inspiration to other class members. Our day included lunch at her senior center, a visit to her favorite grocery, and a stop for ice cream on the way home after class! We were both looking forward to the third class. Anna Mary was every bit disappointed as me when COVID-19 entered the scene before the last class, which was cancelled. Bummer!
To help make up for the cancellations, Osher made a wide selection of online classes available for a few weeks, to watch whatever interested us. I watched recorded classes on the 1940s, the 1950s and 1960s, as well as classes on the Roaring 20s, Fords, Flappers, & Fitzgeralds.
In March, when COVID-19 hit, I became immersed in measuring elastic for large numbers of women and girls, sewing facemasks. With my yardstick across the dining table, my dowel holding a spool of elastic, scissors, zip lock bags and lunch sacks, I propped my iPhone on the table, and proceeded to measure and count to ten, while listening to the various online seminars/classes.
With my “need to know” on active alert, I registered for more Osher classes ranging from the Underground Railroad to Kansas Characters, to Gender Differences in the Aging Brain, and Getting to Know Emily Dickinson. Other classes of interest to me were Collecting Artifacts and Antiquities, Dealing with Loss & Grief, and How the American Language Came to Be! Since I had a box of lunch sacks prepared with elastic bundles, I was able to quit measuring and Zoom most classes.
My most recent Osher course, First Person Pandemic Monologues, turned out to be a writing workshop which has proved to be most entertaining. It has also helped me to realize how much I did accomplish this past year! I miss my grandkids, all in their 20s, but with my mobile Notary signings, and the great Elastic Stretch, I have remained connected to so many, and mostly cheerful! I also have shared homemade banana nut bread with friends and neighbors, including my dear friend, the delightful Anna Mary!
One of my favorite quotes is from Natasha Josephowitz, “My right hand is being held by someone who knows more than I, and I am learning. My left hand is being held by someone who knows less than I, and I am teaching. Both my hands need thus be held for me - to be.” This quote epitomizes Osher’s influence on my life this past year. Even on Zoom, we are sharing, thus, learning and teaching!
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