WOW! Moments: A Yearning to Ride
Each Desert Flower resident brings diverse experiences and interests to our senior living community. We encourage residents to share their stories to enliven memories and foster relationships within the community. Our senior care staff loves hearing about the residents’ stories because it is a great way to get to know members of the community outside of their life at Desert Flower. Plus, it also helps us plan new memorable moments! One lovely resident in particular, Sue Mennela, shares her exciting stories with pronounced passion and enthusiasm, which enabled us to create an amazing WOW! Moment for her to enjoy!
Sue lived in Ohio for many years and received her Nursing degree from Dennison University. Sue was fervent about helping others and set off to pursue her dream of doing just that. She moved to Chicago and became a visiting nurse where she provided comprehensive care for patients in their homes. While living in Chicago, Sue’s friend mentioned the Santa Fe Railway was looking to hire a Courier Nurse. The job opening immediately sparked Sue’s interest. She couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so she packed her bags and set off.
Working as a Courier Nurse, Sue traveled to San Francisco and Los Angeles several times each month, attending to the medical needs of passengers. During Sue’s travels on the Santa Fe Railway, she fell in love. Sue married her husband, James on July 20, 1963. Soon after, Sue and James moved to Colorado to settle down and start a family. In Colorado, Sue and James lived on eighty acres of land with their two adopted children. One year, James surprised Sue with a beautiful horse for her birthday. It was love at first sight. Sue spent the days following teaching herself how to ride. She spent many days exploring the ranch on horseback. Sue explained that each day living on the ranch was an adventure. She said she has the fondest memories of their Colorado ranch and missed the feeling of riding a horse.
The Desert Flower Senior Living staff was intrigued by Sue’s story and her profound love for horseback riding. We wanted to help Sue bring back memories of her life on the ranch. So, one of our staff members planned a surprise visit to MacDonald Ranch for a 1-hour, private horseback ride on an open desert trail!
Sue was smiling ear-to-ear when she met her horse, Domino. She hopped on the saddle and rode with sheer confidence. Along the way, Sue learned about native plants, cactus and desert mistletoe. She even saw a 77-foot-tall cactus! Watching Sue’s instant connection with the horse and utter happiness riding was truly a WOW! Moment. The day was a huge success and truly rewarding. The staff hopes to take Sue horseback riding again soon!
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