ABOVE: Professional speaker Myra Goldick uses a motorized chair to counter the effects of post-polio syndrome, for which she had surgery. Her lecture series focuses on living life to the fullest at any age regardless of adversity. BELOW: A Carlisle resident asks fellow resident Goldick a question. She believes gratitude, forgiveness, happiness and a positive attitude can make aging a wonderful experience. Photos by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Lona O’Connor
Plenty of people preach that the post-retirement years are a boon. But for sheer credibility, almost nobody can top Myra Goldick.
Born in 1943, she grew up poor. Her single mom supported her and her brother. She got polio at age 10. Over the next decade, she recovered the ability to walk with only a slight limp. She married, had two children and made a successful career in the cosmetics industry.
Through more than her share of obstacles, she has persevered.
“How you react is one of the most important things in the healing process,” she told an audience at the Carlisle senior residence in Lantana, where she lives. “Attitude is everything. You don’t have any extra responsibilities. This is the time to follow your dreams. We don’t just have to fade away. Let your imagination run wild.”
Goldick is launching her latest career as a motivational speaker. An intrigued audience filled the seats in the Palm Room at the Carlisle.
“I see that many of you came back after Myra’s program last month,” said Karen Delgado, director of resident programming at the Carlisle. “I think that’s because you’re in awe of Myra.”
Goldick was resplendent in a scarlet pantsuit. She wore her black pillbox hat at a jaunty angle. In addition to her other endeavors, Goldick was for a time a hat designer on Seventh Avenue in New York.
She started her talk at the front of the room but soon moved down the center aisle to draw out stories from the others.
“I take the audience on a journey through the first part of my life,” she said. “When I’m finished with that, I want them to open up about their joys and fears.”
She may be the speaker, but her point is that the listeners are the stars.
“We’re beautiful, we’re fabulous, we’re seniors,” she said, stopping by the row where Lila Fagenson sat. Fagenson is a volunteer at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach. She is a matchmaker for cats and humans.
“It’s gratifying to pair a cat with someone,” she said.
After some prodding from Goldick, Fagenson, a widow, revealed that the matchmaking has rubbed off on her. She said she has started a romance with a neighbor, Larry Mosse.
“When I came here I never thought I’d meet anyone,” said Fagenson. “I have found the second love of my life and I’m very happy.”
Others in the audience have been working with seniors whose memory is fading, or with abused and neglected children, or in schools with students who have special needs.
Ruth Early lost her husband two months after they moved to Florida from California. Now she’s launching a poetry appreciation group.
“I like starting something new and exciting,” Early said, pitching her new group, and added, “I hope you will all become my friends, if you are not already.”
Others brainstormed ideas to lure isolated neighbors out of their apartments, a common problem in senior communities. It’s a well-established fact that isolation is harmful, especially to seniors.
“How do we make them believe that?” Fagenson asked.
“Get them talking, even if what they say is negative. We need more ambassadors.”
For the rest of the hour, Goldick moved up and down the aisle, seeking affirmations and ideas.
Gloria Potter, seated next to Fagenson, suggested starting a chapter of the League of Women Voters.
“Look, an idea was born tonight,” said Goldick. “I am proud to be a part of the most educated, most informed and most powerful generation of seniors. Never silence your voice. I love you all.”
Despite her apparent recovery, it turned out that polio was not finished with Goldick. In the middle of a busy life, with a husband, two children and a career, she had just written a book. That’s when she found out she had post-polio syndrome.
She had been having trouble walking when she watched a segment of 60 Minutes about post-polio syndrome.
“They said polio could put people back in wheelchairs,” Goldick recalled. “I cried so hard, because I knew that was what was happening to me.”
She found out that polio never really goes away. It can travel up the spinal cord and attack the brain.
She would undergo a risky surgery to prevent her from being paralyzed from the neck down.
In March 2017, Goldick’s husband died.
“In four weeks, I lost my house and had to move,” she said. After a search she found the Carlisle to be the right fit for her.
“I made it a point to get involved with this community. It’s very open, like an extended family. They helped me heal.”
She’s gearing up to write another book, for “older people who have not really thought about the future and when they do, they are frightened.”
With the aid of her motorized chair, Goldick is planning to take her talks on the road, offering her services to the many senior communities in the area.
“I do want to present this to condos and adult communities,” she said. “There are so many widows and widowers. It took me a while to get over the death of my husband and get my thoughts together. Now I’m strong again. I’m back and I’m raring to go.”
For more information, visit www.myragoldick.com.
Lona O’Connor has a lifelong interest in health and healthy living. Send column ideas to Lona13@bellsouth.net.