“I was born in Union Highland Cemetery near Florence, Colorado, in a small house where my parents lived. I had four brothers. My father was a sexton. And, yes, the house was on cemetery grounds,” so spoken by GarWen Shirley Joan Jackson. As the old-time comedians would say, “Folks, you ain’t heard nothing yet!”
According to Shirley, the 10 years she was married were long enough to have two daughters, Gard and Wendi, who are married and living in Arizona. There are two granddaughters also.
“When granddaughter Emmi turned five, I moved here to be part of her life. I drove her to school from 7th grade to 12th. We practiced driving after she got her license. She is in ASU now,” Shirley proudly proclaims.
It was SunBird in 2003 after living in Colorado, California, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Dallas.
She has traveled in 13 countries … five times to Florence, Italy, which she loves … and 36 states. “Not too much into travel anymore. It’s too hectic and exhausting. It’s a comfort thing,” she avows.
Occupations were part of her life. They were telephone operator, Continental Airlines accounting, legal secretary and clerk of the court in Montrose County, Colorado, for 25 years. “When I retired, I promised myself no more formal dress, and you will see me in SunBird wearing message t-shirts and jean shorts.”
Considering SunBird, Shirley said, “I cannot imagine living anywhere else. Be a hermit if you choose or join many clubs if you please. There are more activities than I can handle. And the clubhouse and staff are perfect. I consider myself one lucky senior. The people in SunBird are a blessing, and I have funny, glorious friends! Life is good.”
Hobbies include reading, bridge, movies, crossword puzzles, card games, joker, theater, antique shops, museums, dinner with friends and walking each day while taking pictures for Facebook. “I have globophobia, and that’s all.”
Then, rather defiantly, “I collect blue cobalt glass, and I’m not ashamed that it is throughout my house.”
After retiring, she knew she wanted to do volunteering to give back to the community. Here are some: Ushering Chandler Arts Center (accumulated 1500 hours), composing the SunBird Church bulletin each week, works in SunBird Library, directs Monday bridge group up to 10 tables; “I belong to the Kare Bears, and you will find me working at the Kare Bears Fairs.”
While working in the court system, a woman with the same name and about Shirley’s age began passing bad checks. Nearly a year later, dealing with creditors and her name in the newspaper for shop lifting, Shirley changed her name. “I chose a new first name. GarWen is a combination of my daughters Gard and Wendi.”
Each Monday night, neighbors of Kerby Farm gather. “We exchange information, books, find the needs of each … health and otherwise. We look after each other.”
What about it, folks? Shall we sneak in after dark and join them?