For years, the sight of Alice Dempsey riding a bike to meet someone to interview for her column in the Golden Transcript was a familiar one around town. “I love people,” said the 98-year-old, who …
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For years, the sight of Alice Dempsey riding a bike to meet someone to interview for her column in the Golden Transcript was a familiar one around town.
“I love people,” said the 98-year-old, who has lived in the same house on Washington Avenue since moving to Golden in 1968.
But while Dempsey has not been riding her bike in recent years and now spends her time at home where she is receiving home-based hospice care, the COVID-19 pandemic has diminished neither that love of people nor Dempsey's ability to enjoy their company. On the contrary, it's simply allowed Dempsey to do so in a whole new way.
“With her being somewhat restricted, a lot of neighbors and friends have been coming to see her,” said Alice's daughter, Sharon Harrison.
Among the most frequent visitors is Alice's mailman, who makes a point of saying hello to Dempsey from a safe distance.
“He talks to her every day,” said Alice's son, Mike, who is one of three of her seven children who takes turns staying with her. “He waves and shouts.”
Then there has been Dempsey's neighbors, who started coming over each night to howl on Dempsey's porch every 8 p.m. The howling, an activity that took root in Golden and across Colorado in the early days of the pandemic. The howling may have died down a bit, but the visits have continued, allowing Alice to still feel connected to the activity, even from the confines of her couch.
“(The howling) has kind of petered out in the last few weeks but it went on very long,” said Sharon. “Maybe for her benefit.”
But while Alice has relished those visits, she has also tried to embrace the joys that remain available to her even as she is confined to her home.
“I just have to observe what is in my yard,” she said. “I enjoy looking at a leaf on a tree and admiring it. I think if people just enjoy every day there is something beautiful about every day.”
She also used the time to rediscover five large boxes of her mom and dad's scrapbooks, materials, papers and pictures she had preserved.
“That brought a ray of sunshine into dark days,” said Dempsey. “They were fascinating to share with my family.”
Alice has also found inspiration in nature that has continued to feed her passion for writing and recently wrote a short piece about observing magpies that she shared with the Golden Transcript.
Alice's penchant for joy, optimism and relishing the beauty of simple moments has helped to get her through the pandemic, even though she has faced her fair share of pain and loss in life, including the death of two children, as well as other national tragedies like World War II.
Her life has given her some perspective about overcoming tough times.
“I think people nowadays talk more about problems and it only begets more problems,” she said. “I think even when you have problems you have to try to take things in stride.”
That attitude is exemplified by a typed statement Alice shared with the Transcript during our interview that she hoped would be shared with the community.
“I have been blessed beyond expectations by my beautiful life — my parents, relatives, schools, friends, my seven loving, caring children — to enjoy (life) here in Golden with my swinging door always busy,” the statement reads.
However, even as she focuses on gratitude as her end grows nearer, Alice said she also pines for the day when the pandemic ends and her beloved Golden is fully alive once again.
“I really hope before I leave this world, I can see it like it was again,” she said.
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