Senior Says: Reaching out leads to big differences

By Clare Rolinger

It was a Friday evening in late May, and Marjorie Hall and her sister were at a local dance. The two were swaying softly to the music, when a handsome man named Cecil Goodman strolled into the room. Marjorie nudged her sister. She had written Cecil a letter while he was away serving in the second world war. Cecil made his way over to the two girls and took Marjorie’s hand.

“May I have this dance?” he asked, his eyes sparkling.

“I’ll bet you can figure out what I said,” Marjorie laughed, leaning back in her rocker, twiddling her fingers in her red fleece blanket. Although she was 92 years old, her eyes were bright and full of life. “Yes, Cecil and I dated for two years then after that, and we were married on August 7, 1948.” She had a melancholy look in her eye as she stared up at the wall, where the same letter she had sent Cecil during the war was neatly preserved and pinned.

Marjorie Goodman is a two-year resident of Windhaven in Cedar Falls. She grew up on a farm in a small town south of Williamsburg, Iowa, known as North English. The daughter of Murry and Bessie Hall, she is the eldest of nine children.

Marjorie graduated from North English high school in 1943 and took her first job as a teacher in a country school. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to go into the teaching profession.

Leaning into me, she said a matter of factly, “If I had to be an unmarried lady, fine, but I knew I was going to be a teacher.”

And while she did become a teacher, she didn’t end up living out her life as an unmarried lady. In the summer of 1948, she was wed to Cecil Goodman. The two had three children: Ellen, Janice and Ruth. Marjorie raised her kids in Cedar Rapids to keep them close to their grandparents, and she remained there until moving to Windhaven two years ago.

While Marjorie’s life has been filled with many blessings, she’s also had her fair share of hardships. Both the deaths of her father and her husband Cecil took a great toll on her, and in the late seventies, Marjorie was diagnosed with bone cancer.

They came in and told Marjorie that she had cancer after a week of trying to figure out what was wrong with her down at Mayo Clinic.

“You know I’m not going to let that beat me,” she said stubbornly. The doctor kind of smiled and patted her on the back. He knew the likelihood of her survival was very slim.

But a little over a year later, Marjorie was cancer free. She underwent chemo and radiation therapy, all the while never getting sick and losing little to no hair. It was as if the cancer had no power over her.

While many get caught up in the miraculousness of it, Marjorie is simply grateful.

“I had cancer, and I beat it.” She smiled.

Overall, Marjorie’s life experiences have taught her a lot about how to live life.

“Just be a good person. Speak to people when you walk down the hallway any time of day and say good morning or good afternoon. You know, maybe that person has not had anyone speak to them, and maybe that person will think, ‘gosh that makes me feel better’ because one person recognized the importance of saying hello to them,” she squeezed my hand and looked back up at her letter to Cecil pinned to the wall, “That’s one of the ways that you can make yourself feel good, and hopefully make someone else feel good too.”

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