Motorcycle Mama Makes Memories
Special to Historic City News
My interview with Myrtle Hollingsworth at Ancient City Baptist Church,where she volunteers as a facilitator for the Council on Aging Memory Enhancement Workshops, almost got off on the wrong foot; after I thought that she stood me up.
There were three people leading the class who all seemed to me to be in their early 40’s to early 60’s. You know. My age. (And no, I’m not clarifying.) But Myrtle is 87, I’m pretty good at judging someone’s age based on how they look and there was no one in the room who fit her description. “Stood up” I thought, and turned to leave. But something made me stop and ask, “Was Myrtle Hollingsworth delayed today by any chance?” “That’s me!” said the 60-year-old. So much for my age-guessing talents.
Myrtle and her late husband, James “Limey” Hollingsworth, founded Hollingsworth Motorcycles; they ran it together until he became ill and Myrtle took over. She finally sold the business in 2009, sixty-two years after the doors first opened! I thought that, after being a trailblazer, running a business, raising five children and taking on caregiving duties for an ailing spouse, Myrtle would tell me she was ready for a nice long siesta. But I was wrong again. Instead, she told me that she began volunteer work to help her pass the time. “Now I need to get another full time job so I can get some time off!” she laughed, although it didn’t seem like a joke to me. Her idea of passing the time would lay a younger person flat out on the floor from exhaustion in about a day and a half.
Five mornings each week, Myrtle heads over to the tax collector’s office where she helps with the paperwork and just about anything else that her son, St Johns County Tax Collector Dennis Hollingsworth, needs to have done. Another three afternoons out of every week she spends here at Ancient City Baptist Church, assisting with the COA Memory Enhancement classes. Why memory care?
“I love people. And working with people with memory issues lets me see so many positive changes. The process is sometimes a long one but it works. And there is a lot of laughter here in these workshops ~ I think laughter is so important and I always like to leave people by telling a joke or making them smile. A smile is a wonderful thing to see.” There are other ministries as well and a weekly Wednesday night family dinner with however many children and grandchildren can make it in any given week. And yes, Myrtle does the cooking.
I ask Myrtle about growing older, about happiness and about regret. “Everyone has regrets,” she answers. “We all make the best decisions as we see them at the time and they usually turn out to be the correct decisions. As far as getting older and facing death, age really does sneak up on you! So, I try to take advantage of every moment and live each day as fully as I can. And I’m really not afraid of dying. God has been very good to me in this life and I believe in an everlasting life according to His plan.” What about happiness? “Well,” says Myrtle. “There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness can be taken away but joy is lasting. And my faith definitely gives me a real sense of joy.”
Before we end the interview, I ask Myrtle if there’s anything she wants to mention that I haven’t asked her about. “Yes, I’d like to tell you a little story” she says. She goes on to tell me about her new car. (I won’t give the make or model but I will say that it’s a very fast, very comfortable, very sporty model with a big engine that would make any one of my kids green with envy.) Myrtle had spent the night with one of her children and was driving back home in the early morning hours when she was stopped by a police officer. “Mind you, I had not been stopped even once in 70 years of driving,” she exclaimed. “But he pulled me over and after a few minutes of discussion about what he thought I was doing, and what I patiently explained to him was actually happening, he finally said ‘Ok lady…you just wait until I get back in my car and turn my flashing lights off. Then you can go ahead and drive any way you want to.’ “ Myrtle turned to me and smiled, “I think he just wanted to see my car.” That may be, but I bet he was smiling when he left! Just like I was. Thank you, Myrtle Hollingsworth!
Are you or someone you love facing memory issues? If so, now is the time to take action. The COA offers Memory Enhancement Programs in 8 different locations throughout St. Johns County. The classes are fun, dynamic, and most importantly, they work! Call Michele Sanchez for more information. 729-9535 and visit http://www.memorysourcesjc.com
Photo credits: © 2014 Historic City News contributed photograph by Susan Johnson