Joan Kiernan knew she had come to the right place. It wasn’t because of the accommodations. It was because of the people. And, specifically, one person who she adores and considers a good friend, which she describes as “almost instantly” to realize such a strong connection.
“When I came here I met Melissa,” Joan said. “We just hit it off. You meet a lot of people, but when you meet someone and you immediately click, that’s what happened with Melissa.”
Melissa Kupferberg is the Executive Director at Maple Pointe by Chelsea Senior Living, a leader in Assisted Living and Memory Care in Rockville Centre.
Melissa said she felt the same way about Joan, so much so that she invited Joan to her bridal shower.
Melissa’s friendship with Joan was much more than she could have imagined. Joan was battling depression, something she had been dealing with during the pandemic. Joan was lonely and felt uninspired.
But Melissa pushed her to pursue her passions. And it was exactly the kind of encouragement that Joan needed.
A BOOKKEEPER, NOT YET A POET
Born in the Bronx, Joan and her family eventually moved to Westbury.
After getting married, she moved around with her husband, living in various places, until ultimately settling back on Long Island.
She was a bookkeeper, primarily at Huntington Public Library. She had always considered writing, but never really thought she had the talent.
When she retired, however, she took her first creative writing workshop at Hofstra University, a workshop she was enamored by so much that she enrolled for four years. At the time she started, she was 70 years old.
The professor who taught that class, Dr. Lenore Sandel, made an impression on Joan, in part because, for the first time, someone truly believed in her writing.
“She built me up because I never really thought I had talent in that way,” Joan said.
The late Dr. Sandel became a mentor and someone who Joan could confide in.
Long before this, she thought she’d be writing a memoir, not poetry. But the professor revealed a talent that Joan had that she never knew.
This is among the many reasons why Joan chose to dedicate her published book of poetry to the late Dr. Sandel.
The book is a collection of poetic pieces written by Joan from different points in time.
“Poetry you always write about what you feel and what’s going on,” Joan said.
Her favorite poem is called “Mirror, Mirror,” which describes an elderly lady who realizes the young girl in her remains despite what she sees in the mirror.
Joan has also written many poems not found in her book.
MELISSA AND ME
Joan’s new home at Maple Pointe brought out the best in her.
She’s met new friends in the community including the staff.
“Whatever you need – the staff is wonderful,” she said.
As Joan returned to writing, it didn’t take long for her to decide what she was going to write about; her bond with Melissa.
“She became the teacher and taught me to follow my star,” she writes in one stanza in “Melissa and Me.”
“I’m glad that I met her, I’ll never forget her, and that’s the end of this song.”