Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Charlotte

What to Do After 90 For an Encore

Apr 29, 2019 05:33PM

Dorothy (Fortunata) Duffy, 90, is the author of Around Fortunata 's Table, a memoir/cookbook honoring holy angels. She is a widow of Italian heritage who lives in the Charlotte area. Natural Awakenings asked her about her youthful, optimistic attitude at such an advanced age.


What wisdom do you most want to share with our readers?

Start making memories by sharing your gifts with others as I have. I now have limited mobility and use a walker. I get lonely sometimes, but I take care of that by having people come to my house. Being Italian and naturally gregarious means that one of my gifts is sharing my love of cooking with my in-home help.

I teach them how to cook lasagna, eggplant parmesan, stuffed peppers, and peppers and sausage. But the piece de resistance, according to family and friends, would be my "marvelous meatballs!” My happiest memories are in the kitchen around food and feeding people, especially during the holidays. Others express their happiness by eating and coming back for more and more.


How else do you share your knowledge with the community?

My other gift of sharing is helping immigrants improve their English skills, especially pronunciation. I like to think that small acts often have a giant impact on others and their quality of life. My home becomes a learning center for those needing assistance. They benefit from my gifts, but I benefit even more because I am fulfilled and feel purposeful.

Those of you over 90, as well as those under 90, can do that with your gifts, whatever they may be, and at any age. Age is just a number, and should not be a reason to hold you back from living. Don't let it! Don' t put limits on yourself until life puts limits on you.


How do you feel about the legacy of your cohorts?

The "seasoned" generation is a valuable resource, possessing much wisdom. If you live in the family home, share that history and your family history, along with your personal heritage with others. I do that with the people who come into my home. They also share their stories with me. It is a cultural and uplifting exchange that I value. The silver lining of being homebound is that I am meeting and feeling connected to other people who otherwise would not be in my life. I am also helping them to cultivate the creative spark in their lives by spreading knowledge and encouraging them to make "marvelous meatballs."


What is your philosophy of aging?

Change is a major part of growing older, and adapting to change can be hard. But as author Vicki L. Christian (Change is Inevitable) so aptly describes it, "Paying attention to our breath brings us here, into the present, where we are able to notice what's happening within us and around us on a moment-to-moment basis. It is an entry point for us to step into the flow of change, rather than push against it."


What advice can you impart to others?

By exposing others to foods they can't pronounce, as well as to different ways of cooking and shopping, I have opened a new world for my in-home help and me. We are living in the moment and having fun. Try sharing your gifts and you, too, will have distinctive experiences. It certainly has been rewarding for this nonagenarian.


Contact Duffy in care of Natural Awakenings Charlotte, P.O. Box 456, Cornelius, NC 28031.

Upcoming Events Near You
Current Issue


Global Brief
Health Brief
Join Our Email List

Receive Digital Magazine and Special Offers

* indicates required
Email Format

Receive Digital Magazine, Special Offers and Advertising Information

* indicates required
Email Format