Wish Stories

Mary & Cheryl Reconnect to Make Art

Confidant. Kindred spirit. Partner in crime. We have many names for that special person, and those who are lucky enough to have found one know: friendship is one of life’s greatest joys.

That’s how Mary, age 74, feels about her friend Cheryl. The pair met three years ago while attending acrylic painting classes at the Senior Resource Development Agency in Pueblo, CO. And they’ve been creating together ever since!

There’s nothing the friends enjoy more than making art together and experimenting with different techniques and mediums. By the time they’re finished with a project, their workspace will be a complete mess! To Mary and Cheryl, that’s just part of the fun.

Mary has always had the urge to create. When she was young, she started painting by playing with paint-by-numbers sets. It opened up a whole world of creative expression and artmaking for her, and she’s never stopped. While living in Denver, CO, Mary took oil painting lessons for 17 years.

It’s truly been a life-long passion for her, and the friendships she has gained through art have added community and meaning to her life.

Mona and dance instructor practice a move
Mona and dance instructor practice in front of mirror

Supporting her community has also been an important part of Mary’s life. While living in Parker, CO, Mary volunteered at the local Rotary Club to create a Prom for teenagers with Down syndrome. She loved collaborating with the enthusiastic group of volunteers who came together to put on the event. Mary supports her local community in Pueblo by giving older adults rides if they cannot drive on their own or don’t have a means of transportation to get where they need to be.

Mary had to get even more creative than usual during the pandemic when she could not participate in art classes. What emerged is a new art practice she calls “junk art.” Mary finds old or unusual materials and gives them a new life. She’ll create something with recycled pieces of plastic or even pieces of wood found on her neighborhood walking trail.

Regardless of the materials or medium, making art keeps Mary grounded—she says it is the only thing that “soothes her soul.”

The pandemic has also kept Mary apart from her beloved friend Cheryl. She wanted nothing more than to reunite with Cheryl in a space where they could work on art projects and continue to learn new techniques together.

Wish of a Lifetime was thrilled to bring Mary and Cheryl back together for a relaxing and creative getaway.

Mona poses in white lace ballet costume
Mona poses on the ballet barre
Close up of Monas feet in ballet shoes

Their trip included a stay at the Florence Rose Bed and Breakfast, an inspiring location to rekindle their friendship and spark creativity. The lovely Victorian house nicknamed “The Rose” was built in 1886 and combines modern-day comfort with historical ambiance. There was even more inspiration at hand when Mary learned the friends were staying in the same bedroom that actor Robert Redford used while filming the movie Our Souls at Night.

Mary and Cheryl attended two days of watercolor batik workshops hosted by artist Carol Naylor. Watercolor batik is a painting method that uses hot wax and watercolor on various rice and washi papers to create beautiful and surprising effects.

The space where their class was held had a spectacular view of the outdoors. As they took it all in and explored the new technique, Mary and Cheryl felt they could finally be their creative and carefree selves again. 

“We laughed and looked around and talked to people,” Mary said. “We were feeling happy.”

It was wonderful to be together and to be making art with such a friendly group of creatives. Mary made some new connections and plans to stay in touch with the women she met in the workshop, and they hope to return and relive these new feel-good memories again soon.

The experience reminded Mary of why she loves to make art and works hard to sustain friendships with others: These things bring her happiness!

“Try to be happy every day,” she said. “If you’re happy, people want to be around you.”

Shadow of hot air balloon on the trees below it

One incredible story at a time, Wish of a Lifetime is changing the perception of aging—not just how we view our oldest citizens but also how we see and value ourselves as we age.

Do you have a wish you want to realize? We want to hear your story!

Become a wish Nominator and submit an application for a deserving senior in your community.

Learn more about how wishes connect seniors to people, purpose, and passions to eliminate feelings of isolation and help them live vibrant, purposeful lives.

All wish activities are conducted in accordance with CDC, state and local health regulations and may be subject to increased COVID-19 preventative precautions as outlined in WOL’s COVID-19 Policy.

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