Out on tour: Singing Senior

In the Comfort Life Spotlight

It was the gorgeous grounds that first attracted Rein Sommerfeld to Parkwood Manor in Coquitlam, British Columbia, and they still draw him outdoors almost every day. Rein, who uses a walker after complications from hip surgery affected his mobility in one foot, is comfortably able to use the pathways that wind through three landscaped acres. It’s a bucolic setting, hedged by natural woods, wild with spring blooms, and crossed by a stream where fish spawn in the fall. And yet it’s only a block from the shopping mall. “But we’re hidden away, so we don’t have the noise,” says Rein, 84.

A widower for 13 years, Rein had been living in an apartment and struggling to look after himself. Meals were the hardest. “With this bum leg of mine, I couldn’t drive and the grocery store was too far to walk,” he says. He tried having frozen meals delivered, but they just didn’t have the taste of home cooking. Plus, Rein says, life got a little boring sometimes. “I had no one to talk to.”

Since making the move to Parkwood Manor more than three years ago, Rein eats much better than he has in years and has found intellectual and social stimulation. He does the exercise classes regularly and participates in Saturday morning current events discussions. A retired business manager of a private school in Regina, Saskatchewan, Rein has also become computer literate. “Recently they bought a very easy computer with a touch-screen monitor. Even I can operate that,” he says.

Rein, who used to volunteer as a church organist and choir director, has also found his voice again. He sings baritone in the choir, one of 11 men in the 27-member ensemble. While they have a lot of fun performing around town, they take their music very seriously. Even when they perform for fellow residents, they dress professionally in sharp white shirts or blouses, black ties and black pants or skirts. “When we sing in our dining room, man alive! We have people crowded in there all the way back to the kitchen,” Rein says. “If I say so myself, I think we put on a pretty good show.”

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