At 91, Patricia Strandburg has a treasure chest of memories that it gives her pleasure to recall and share.
“The best part of my life was when our children were growing up,” said Strandburg, whose husband of 68 years, Don, died in July 2022. “Our biggest joy was our children.”
Strandburg shared memories as she pushed her walker around the new playground at a Santa Clara park near her home, accompanied by caregiver Cristy. The playground is encircled by a wide, cement walkway, making walking easy. Strandburg walks one lap, sometimes two, then rests at a picnic table, working up to six laps.
“It’s entertaining to watch the little kids,” said Strandburg.
She and her late husband, Iowans who met in college, raised their three children in Santa Clara, living in the same house since 1956. When their children got older, Strandburg headed the Northern California Ecumenical Media Resource Center, staying 50 years, until it closed.
Memories, of course, are not enough in life. And day-to-day living becomes more challenging with age.
“The thing that’s hardest is if you’re alone,” said Strandburg. “If I didn’t have my caregivers, I’d be extremely lonely, not happy.”
Strandburg fills her days in simple ways that enrich her life. Playing cribbage, for one. She learned the card game from her dad and grandmother. She and Don played. Now, she’s teaching cribbage to her caregivers.
“It’s stimulating and fun, sometimes frustrating. It’s a hard game until you know it,” said Strandburg. “We also do word games in the paper. That’s what we do to while away the hours.
“Now I’m just a bum. I sit around and play cards, check my email, watch sports games—the 49ers and Warriors and go to Kaiser,” she continued.
How else to keep busy and be happy in your 90s?
“Try to make other people happy,” Strandburg advised. “Bake cookies for them.”
Molasses ginger cookies are a favorite, made with the help of her caregiver Pierre.
Even after nine decades of being productive, it’s not enough for Strandburg just to relax.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a column where we casually interview people we meet in Silicon Valley. The column hopes to highlight what makes Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and the rest of the South Bay special — the people who live, work and play here.