My name is LaWanda. I’m 74 years old and have been retired for 12 years. I saw an advertisement in a magazine about Sun City Grand, in Surprise AZ. The name “Surprise” fascinated me and the area looked so beautiful and inviting we had to come see for ourselves.

After our first visit (we visited 3 different times as we couldn’t get enough) we were so taken by the beauty of the amenities, the pleasantness of 4 golf courses, 5 beautiful swimming pools and 90 activities to choose from. There was something for everyone and it was beyond anything I ever imagined. After our visit here, we went across the United States and looked at other retirement communities, and NOTHING even came close to Sun City Grand in Surprise.

My husband of almost 39 years and I live here together and have for almost 7 years. Living here has given us a whole new chapter in our lives. I dance with a performing troupe called, “The Grandettes” and have been doing that since I first saw the annual Variety Show our community puts on every year. When I saw how talented and beautiful the ladies looked on stage (remember that all are over 55 years and older) I immediately joined the troupe.

That was 6 years ago and I’m still dancing and having a blast. I never danced before so starting at age 68 was so out of my comfort zone. I felt like I stepped out of my old skin and put on a new one. I joined 2 golf clubs and live in paradise when it comes to playing golf. 

Let’s not forget that baseball spring training is a very big deal in AZ and in Surprise. I am a HUGE baseball fan. Although AZ has the Diamondbacks as their home team, I’m a fan of the New York Yankees. Since moving here I have met so many wonderful people and have the dearest friends that are mostly like us. Living in Surprise has given me an opportunity to be a part of a community, to join in and make a difference. I volunteer at our church food bank and was also a hospital volunteer.

Our family thinks it is so great that we are able to live in Surprise, and to enjoy our lives as never before. Of course they all love coming to visit and to enjoy the sunshine, baseball and golf. When Doug or I are performing in a show or an event they love to come and watch us. They always let people know that are sitting next to them that we are their parents. All the kids are very proud of us and it makes all the hard work that goes into doing a big show so worth it.

I am a mother of 6 children, 5 sons and an only daughter who died of cancer 3 years ago. I have 15 grandchildren ages 28 to 3. I mostly thought of myself as a Mom and Grandma. Now I see myself as dancer, a golfer, a wife and a lover to husband and best friend Doug. We have been able to connect and become closer in these past years that belong to us alone.

I know that I had a preconceived idea about retirement and actually living in a retirement community with age restrictions of 55 years or older. But believe me I have never been so wrong about anything. I’m so busy and happy to be doing all the things I never dreamed I would be doing and having so much fun at the same time. I’m not just “sitting and knitting” as the saying goes. It’s hard to think of my self as a senior citizen. WHO ME? No way. I try to live in the moment and to have no regrets. I feel younger now then I did at age 55.

I have had ravages of tragedy and tribulation with my daughter’s death as well as with my dear husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year. Six months ago we were told he has ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease). He was very active here at Sun City Grand in the Music Club. Doug sings and plays guitar and was in a 50-60’s Rock n’ Roll band called, “The Roadrunners.” He sang in a jazz group called “Jazzmatazz” and still sings with the “Grand Singers,” a 100 voice choir. All this has become harder as his illness has progressed.

Despite my personal hardships I try to be a good friend and sensitive to others with similar problems. This is my journey and I live it in a thoughtful and generous manner. I have a ONCE in a lifetime opportunity to experience this event with ‘Sunset Daze.’ It has been AMAZING! I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Seriously, who gets to do something like this in life? Well… me!

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