The Cottages and Gables is home to a wide variety of residents. We have veterans, teachers, and even some talented musicians. Each one of our residents brings something special to the community. Some share stories from their childhood. Others share jokes. They’re all unique in their own way. What makes one particular resident special is the fact that she just celebrated her 101st birthday. Her name is Ms. Frances Rafter.
Ms. Rafter was kind enough to sit down and chat about her life. She is bright. She is witty. She is sweet. When speaking to her, it didn’t take long before one thing became very evident: she loves golf. She and her husband played golf for many years. After her husband retired, they joined a golfing group where they would travel around the United States and play golf all day long.
“I loved it,” said Ms. Rafter when speaking about the sport.
She recalled a time when she ran into a group of men on the golf course one day. They were playing in teams and she asked to play with them. They said they didn’t want to “play with a girl.” Some would be offended or upset. Not Ms. Rafter. She didn’t let it bother her one bit. She knew how good she was, and she decided to show them. Ms. Rafter stepped up to the ball. Without taking her eye off the ball – the most important part – she wound back and clocked it as hard as she could. Afterwards, that same group of men begged her to play with them.
Golf was one love of her life, but the other was her late husband, Tom. He was an Army veteran who she met at a baseball game. Every Sunday night, Ms. Rafter would go to the recreation fields to watch the ball game. The field was right next to the army base Mr. Rafter was located. He’d come over and watch the baseball games, too. Soon enough, though, he found himself watching her more than the ballgame. Eventually, he gathered the courage to sit beside her and strike up a conversation. After that, she brought him home to meet her parents and they were married shortly after.
Another passion of Ms. Rafter’s, along with golf, is the piano. As a young girl, she told her mother that she wanted to learn how to play the piano, so her mother paid for piano lessons. Playing the piano (properly) required holding her hands in the correct form and using the correct fingers on certain keys. A young Ms. Rafter had a hard time grasping that concept. Every time she would make a mistake with her form, her piano teacher would…WHACK…hit her fingers with a pencil.
“I didn’t like that! So, I said I’m not going to take it. I’ll just do it myself,” Ms. Rafter giggled as she recalled that moment in time.
Today, Ms. Rafter plays the piano by ear. She often has her neighbors at The Cottages at Woodland Terrace come up to her and say “Aunt Frances, will you play the piano for us?” There’s no doubt that while Ms. Rafter fills the halls with music, she’s also filling souls with happiness.
Sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn to play a sport or musical instrument. Ms. Rafter did both! To live to be 101 years old is a great feat that few of us will ever know. To live to such an age comes with an endless supply of truth and knowledge. Ms. Rafter was kind enough to share her thoughts about her recent birthday and what wisdom she can give to all of us.
Whether it be golf, starting a family or getting a promotion, always stay focused. Keep your head down and still. Focus on what’s happening in the moment, and how you’re going to get there. Your body will still swing that club, and if you keep your eye on the ball you’ll just maybe get a hole-in-one.
There is no right or wrong way to do something when it comes to living your life and staying true to yourself. Draw outside the lines. Play the piano by ear. Start that company of your dreams. If it’s true to you, it’s worth doing it your way.
Age is sometimes only a mindset. If you think you can’t do something, you’re usually right. If you think of yourself as old, then you’ll act your age. So, instead, make a silly face, tell a dumb joke, play a prank of your wife or husband. Because age is just a number.
Sometimes, easier said than done but if everything you do in life is done with the purest of intentions, then you’re doing the right thing. Doing the best that you know is all we can do.
We don’t wake up asking “why” but rather “thank you.” That was the biggest take away from Ms. Frances Rafter. She never questioned why she has lived to be 101. She is grateful and knows there’s still business left for her here on earth. To adopt that mindset would benefit us more than we could imagine. We wake up every day because someone depends on us, because we have work to do, because we have goals to reach, because we have places to see, because we have people to meet, and because we have changes to make. There’s no sense in worrying about the next five years. Just take it day by day.
Ms. Rafter was kind, funny and a joy to talk to. She is but one of many residents at our four properties. Please be sure to share this story with your friends and family as we continue to cover our wonderful residents and staff members.
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The Cottages on Wesleyan
The Cottages at Woodland Terrace
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The Gables at Wolf Creek
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