Source: Courier Journal & USA Today
December 3, 2021
In Anne Marie Currie’s room at Nazareth Home Highlands, several walls are adorned with art made by her and her family members — watercolor, oil, acrylic, pen and pencil drawings.
The 91-year-old also says a few sentences in both French and Spanish and as a teacher for more than 40 years, shows off her own curriculum called Gingerbuddies, which she created using hand puppets.
With her assortment of skills and hobbies, Currie has been named the recipient of the Gold Standard of Optimal Aging Award from the University of Louisville Trager Institute.
The award “recognizes adults who are 85 years or older and outstanding models of optimal aging. Individuals who receive this honor exhibit current involvement in one or more of the following areas: physical, spiritual, social, civic, and creative,” according to Nazareth Home.
“I can’t tell you any reaction to it ’cause I don’t understand it,” Currie said. “I was surprised.”
But Currie said she doesn’t want the award to be about her. Her secret to aging gracefully is family. Currie has three children, Ted and Allen Currie and Gwen Snow, and five grandchildren.
The Currie family spends lots of quality time together. They take Currie shopping, to doctor’s appointments, to Allen’s lake house, to the golf course and out to eat.
At the onset of the the pandemic, Currie’s children and grandchildren made the best of Nazareth Home’s no-visitation policy. Because of Currie’s first-floor room, they were able to stand outside and FaceTime her through the window.
Now that restrictions have eased, she regularly sees a familiar face around.
Her granddaughter Sophia Currie, a 16-year-old junior at Assumption High School, has been giving art lessons to Nazareth Home residents for the past month as a part of her community service requirement.
“We’re required to get a certain amount of hours and I thought it’d be fun to come here and teach an art class with my grandma because I love doing art, and you know, incorporate it with my favorite person,” Sophia said.
A pen drawing of one of Sophia’s childhood homes sits on the bookshelf. A painting and a drawing of Currie’s late husband, one done by Currie and the other done by her daughter, face each other in a corner wall.
Currie first took up painting classes in Pennsylvania, as a young woman with her sister in Pennsylvania. Their goal was to win a contest in which their artwork would be displayed at the local bank.
“I did my first painting that I really liked at that class,” she said. “I had a beautiful frame. It had all kinds of gold and white and everything intermingled … and I put a dog in there and I was happy with it.”
Gwen, Allen and Sophia said they’ve all picked up some tips and tricks for their artwork from Currie over the years. Sophia recalled learning some techniques in the arts and crafts room Currie used to have in her basement.
Unlike most of his family, Currie’s son Ted became a musician.
“But he just had a natural ear for music and we never figured out where it came from,” she said.
Currie recently took a baking class at Nazareth Home. However, she said the best part of getting older is less responsibility, so she won’t be taking on any new adventures anytime soon. Her least favorite part of aging is not being able to advocate for herself as strongly.
But Gwen reminds Currie that she was the one who led the charge on getting watercolor painting lessons at Nazareth Home – and to getting Sophia on board.
“I’m so happy that she’s decided to come here,” Currie said. “To be selfish, it’s good for me. To be unselfish, it’s good for the residents.”