95-year-old wants 95 birthday cards…from different countries – YourSun.com

PORT CHARLOTTE — At first, it seemed like a simple request.

Ruth Beisheim, who is turning 95 on April 3, called The Daily Sun and said she would like to receive 95 cards for her birthday.

But the catch is — she wants 95 cards from different countries.

Now living in an assisted living facility in Oxford, near The Villages, she and her husband Wilbur were longtime residents of Port Charlotte.

“We had a good life there,” she said.

Prior to retirement, the couple were extremely active, working and traveling all over the world.

“He was career military,” said Beisheim, who was a nurse and would work where her husband was stationed.

When they were in Germany, she took a job as a server in a restaurant to improve her German.

But the plan backfired: “A busload of people came in yakking in German,” and she couldn’t understand what they were saying, she said.

When Beisheim went into the kitchen with their order, she told the chef, “Give them all hamburgers,” she recalled, laughing.

She also took a job teaching American children at a school in Germany during her husband’s stint in that country.

Nostalgic for days when she enjoyed hosting international visitors and traveling extensively throughout Europe, Beisheim said one of the hardest adjustments in her life is the isolation the pandemic has caused.

She said another factor disturbing her is the way the world has changed.

Beisheim said she tries to keep up with the news, but it is difficult to sometimes watch because of the current conflicts between countries, and she sometimes “has to turn the TV off.”

“If women could rule the world, we would have people over for tea and we wouldn’t have any wars,” she said.

Beisheim said she enjoyed opening her home to people from all over the world and from different cultures.

“Foreign officers from Greece, Turkey and Iran came to our house for an American meal which they really enjoyed,” she said.

She said she and her husband had a home in Mexico for two decades.

“I met wonderful people there — they were so industrious,” she said.

Beisheim said she “has so much admiration for Italians, Austrians, and many others.”

She said everyone in her and her husband’s social circle got along, regardless of their nationality.

Today, things are quieter and different for Beisheim.

“I never knew aging could be taxing so emotionally,” she said. “I was always busy and worked and always felt worthy of daily life.”

She said she found that living in at the Carriage House — her present residence, was a good move in that it kept her busy with various activities and outings. But the pandemic soon put an end to that, she related.

Her community’s bus would transport residents “to about 150 miles away,” she said. “We went to Ringling in Sarasota, Weeki Wachee but then they stopped bus trips,” she said.

The bus did start up again, but only to take residents to essential businesses like the Walmart and Publix, she said.

“I’m afraid to go anywhere,” Beisheim admitted, referring to the pandemic.

She raved about the quality of food at her residence, and said there are some amenities available, such as exercise.

“But I just don’t have that energy.”

The youngest of nine children, her close sister died recently. Her only living sibling is in a memory care facility. Beisheim said her sister and she talked regularly about the things they did together, like going on cruises. Her late sister’s husband stays in touch and on Sundays they enjoy “talking about old times together,” she said.

Beisheim keeps in touch with her surviving relatives, including a nephew who teaches English in Japan, and a niece who is engaged to a man who is from Indonesia. She said she’ll probably receive birthday cards from Japan and Indonesia, as that’s where her niece’s wedding will be.

Those wanting to send Ruth Beisheim a birthday card, or ask someone overseas to do the same can do so by sending it to Carriage House, 4680 Bellweather Lane, Room 205, Oxford, Florida, 34484.

Experts say people should consider sending relatives or friends in assisted living centers cards or stopping by for visits.

STAYING SOCIAL

At Tuscan Gardens — an assisted living facility in Venice, the staff worked to compensate for the lack of social interactions and visits, said Kiran Kaur, director of communications and social media.

She said it was imperative residents stay in touch with their loved ones, their minds stimulated, and their physical health maintained.

“We actually did well during the pandemic,” Kaur said.

Tuscan Gardens “had technology in place,” she said.

“We used Zoom, Facetime, and encouraged residents and their families to make phone calls, send out cards and letters, exchange photos and mementos and use social media,” Kaur said.

The activities staff had to redesign activities, including offering an in-room exercise video so residents could maintain their regimen.

A LifeBio story program allowed residents to share their stories, and there was also a “heart to hug wall” — residents could actually hug without touching.

The staff kept residents’ minds active and spirits high by offering art classes, brain teasers and trivia, a mobile library, games, one-on-one activities and even happy hours.

She said the 21st century made it possible for residents and their families and friends to stay in touch.

“Thank God for technology,” she said.