March 30, 2020
One of the benefits of communities like Kendal-Crosslands is the opportunity to spend time exploring your creativity and self-expression in a supportive community with others. We’ve had a number of residents write books, by themselves or as a group, and John and Louise Bennett are the latest to publish a book- The Path- Kendal Through the Seasons. They will be reading excerpts from their book at Kendal at Longwood on September 17th at 7:15pm, along with other Kendal authors, so be sure to save the date on your calendar!
When the Bennetts moved to Kendal at Longwood from Rochester, New York, they were inspired by the beautiful surroundings, much as they had been in their home on the shores of Lake Ontario. John channels his lifelong interest in photography with pictures taken on the Sally Dwyer Promenade and elsewhere on Kendal’s campus, while Louise contributes thoughtful and moving poems about the beauty and the changes that happen with the seasons, and the community of residents at Kendal.
John grew up in Jackson, Michigan and had an interest in photography from an early age, with his first Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. While an undergrad at Swarthmore College, John met Louise, where she was studying political and economic history, and would eventually get an MA in Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan while John was getting his PhD in philosophy. Louise would later go to Tufts Medical School and become a family physician working in clinics to help refugee families, while John taught at the University of Rochester.
Louise started writing poetry in 1999 when dealing with the grief from the death of her mother, inspired by her grandfather who was a Congregational minister and poet. It seemed natural that John and Louise should combine their interests to write this book together, reflecting on the place they call home.
Louise participates in the writing groups at Kendal at Longwood, and has found the community to be very supportive, helping residents grow spiritually and creatively together. John participates in the photography group, where residents get together and critique each other’s photos, helping each member improve and exploring the differences between those who still work with film and those using digital photography.
The new book, The Path: Kendal Through The Seasons, is the second book of photos and poems the couple has worked on together. The first was written primarily for friends and family based around their home on Lake Ontario. This second volume speaks to a wider audience about the experience of aging and changes over time.
The reflections in the book, with the harmony between poems and photographs tells a lot about John and Louise’s journey, and their choice to age with intention in a community like Kendal-Crosslands.
Louise’s mother was uprooted from a number of different care settings as she aged, and the Bennetts wanted to choose a different experience for themselves. With sons who live in Philadelphia and New York City, Kendal at Longwood was a great choice for them, putting them near family, but gives them the independence they have always enjoyed.
“It’s important to move into a community like ours ahead of time and make friends here,” Louise stated. The series of personal care and skilled nursing facilities her mother had lived in caused disruption for Louise’s mother, and for the family as well.
“By the time Louise’s mother moved, she was not really able to make friends or participate in activities where she was,“ John added. “And we’ve had various experiences with other friends and relatives. They had good experiences at retirement communities. And then we paid attention to our friends… but there are a lot of people who stayed at home, and ended up in the hospital and then a nursing home, and couldn’t go back home, causing a burden for their families.”
Louise then added “You can’t plan everything, but you can make it a little easier on yourself and your family if you can choose a community like this one.”
John and Louise Bennett are a great example of how our residents at Kendal-Crosslands Communities are redefining the experience of aging, and finding ways to make this next chapter of their lives full of self-expression and sharing of common experiences.
You can purchase a copy of The Path:Kendal through the Seasons at the Gateway Shop at Kendal at Longwood, or through Amazon by clicking here.