Kathe Kleinau has always been passionate about the written word. She’s been an avid reader her entire life, she loves to sit and write letters and while studying at university she was at her best sharing her knowledge and insights through essays.
That passion is serving her well these days as she collects and preserves the many interesting stories she hears every day through neighbours and friends she’s come to know at her home in The village of Wentworth Heights.
She recalls the flurry of activity in the days and weeks after the new retirement suites opened, and the wealth of wisdom and experience each new resident represented.
“During our conversations at the table we exchanged memories and stories, and one day it struck me that these stories should be preserved,” Kathe says from the comfort of her suite. “I got the idea of collecting them and maybe publishing a book,”
Not only are their stories worth preserving, she says; there are artists and photographers throughout The Village whose work should be captured in a book for posterity’s sake.
Once the seed of the idea was planted, she approached village chaplain Ken Styles who offered his full support. With the additional help of her daughter, Christine, Kathe has been slowly working to collect and archive the stories, hoping to discover as many perspectives as possible. She’s archived poetry, for example, and has been working alongside her early “subjects” to interview and then cooperatively put their stories together.
“The stories,” she says, “are so varied, which is wonderful.”
It can be difficult for some people to talk about their memories, Kathe admits, especially when they go to darker times of war, but “it’s so important to reflect and think back on our lives, on the positives and things we can be grateful for.”
A collection such as this, documenting the lives of ordinary people, can be a way for future generations to gain “a widening of their horizons,” Kathe says. “They can see the colourful lives of people to get a greater understanding of life itself and get a taste of the richness and of the feelings of other people.”
She’s hoping more of her fellow residents will share their stories to complete a collection worthy of all she’s seen and heard since moving to Wentworth Heights.
For information on how you can take part on Kathe’s project call her in suite 2811 or connect with village chaplain, Ken Styles.