Rachel wasn’t useless yet, unless you spoke to her kids.
“Don’t let the old man in”
Every idea comes from somewhere. The notion to write about the elderly sprang from a few, fairly recent, providential visits to The Palms of Fort Myers, a senior living retirement community in Southwest Florida.
During a few short stays there with Marcia’s mother, Esther—The Palms put us up each time in a comfortable guest room—Marcia and I shared meals with the residents in their dining hall, eavesdropped on their bingo matches, looked-in on their heartwarming and often humorous striving at group exercise, seminars, arts and crafts, movies, card games, live entertainment…
So we were blessed to observe, first hand, how so many Palms residents, though having turned a serious chronological corner or two, had managed to successfully contend with time’s stubborn assault upon their resolve; their tenacious cheerfulness in the face of many challenges, some obvious, some not, and The Palms staff’s routine demonstrations of kindness, compassion, energy and professionalism in helping them to carry on.
The first of The Palms’ many daily announcements invariably began with a cheerfully delivered, “Good morning, residents!” and that hopeful call to action became the novel’s title.
The somewhat tongue-in-cheek advice of legendary actor/filmmaker Clint Eastwood, now 89 years old and still at work in cinema every day, became its theme… “Don’t let the old man in,” Eastwood recommended in a recent interview, and no one asked who the old man might be.
Rachel, the story’s heroine, despite making a boatload of bad decisions, certainly follows Eastwood’s advice and fights the old man well.
Although The Palms’ setting, residents and staff served as unwitting models for Good Morning, Residents! the exaggerated and stylized make-believe community at Belle Isle, in Tampa, its zany characters and bizarre circumstances do not depict in any way the real organization or people in Fort Myers, with perhaps one important exception.
It is my hope that every positive representation of kindness, caring, acceptance, comradery, selflessness and professionalism depicted herein by this story’s characters might reflect a fraction of the actual, exceptional examples of the employees and residents we were honored to visit briefly at The Palms.
Check out “Good Morning, Residents!” at Amazon.com.
See all Cliff’s books here.
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