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Taking Time to Understand the Elderly
Author Recalls the Value of Time with. Grandmother in New Memoir
FOXBORO, Mass. – Senior citizens have a wealth of knowledge and history, but many people do not take the time to learn from them. Robert Gillis spent many years of his life caring for his grandmother, and he recounts what he gained from his experiences with a remarkable lady in his new memoir, Nana: My Grandmother, Anne Gillis (now availablethrough AuthorHouse).
In 1993, a rest home in Dorchester, Mass. is home to Anne Gillis, known as “Nana” to her grandson. Nana is 91 years old and has lived a special life. Flashing back throughout her life, the book follows the journey that she has taken. She was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, in 1902 and grew up in on a farm in a Scottish village populated by hard-working people with a deep sense of community. The Gaelic influence was alive in the village with language and heritage displayed by fiddle players and step dancers. In 1919, at the age of 17, Nana traveled to Boston with her sister hoping to find work to help their family.
In 1937, she gave birth to her son, Robert. In 1941, after becoming a nurse, she purchased a large mansion in Dorchester, Mass., and operated the Uphams Comer Rest Home until 1965 when she began renting the rooms to tenants.
Gillis recalls how his visits with Nana began when he was 5 years old as a profitable venture-his grandmother offered him a dime or a quarter when he stopped by. As he grew older, Gillis realized that listening to Nana talk interested him more and he took notice of the stories she told, even if they were repeated. Gillis became more than just a visitor to his grandmother, and while he believed that he was taking care of her, he realized Nana was actually taking care of him.
His grandmother spent her final year flourishing at Saint Joseph Rest Home until her death in 1993. As the story ends, Gillis finds himself back at the mansion, which he is now selling, and speaking fondly of the Scottish village in Nova Scotia.
“Growing older is the same for all of us-and people do not become useless as they do so,” writes Gillis, “indeed, they can be a great source of knowledge and friendship, and all they ask is a little of your time.”
Gillis grew up in Dorchester, Mass., and graduated from Boston College High School and the University of Massachusetts Boston. He has worked as a professional computer programmer for nearly 20 years and has written a regular opinion column for The Foxboro Reporter since 1996. He is very active in his community in Foxboro, Mass., where he and his wife reside with their “kids,” a German shepherd and a Moluccan cockatoo. Nana is his first published book. For more information, visit www.robertxgillis.com.
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