With a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree in the educational field, 84-year-old Anna Messineo knows a thing or two about different ways of learning. Turns out, it’s not just for kids, but for herself as well now that she’s retired and living at Discovery Village Twin Creeks in Allen, Texas.
“My interests have always been art and education, and I found that one of the ladies here is a writer who has published several books,” Messineo says. “She’s given people, free of charge, a chance to learn how to write their memoirs. And that’s what I’m doing now. I barely sleep nights anymore because I stay up writing.”
You can understand why she’s got so much to write about once you get to know her. Born in New York City, she lived in Manhattan almost her entire life.
“I loved it,” Messineo says of the Big Apple. “I still prefer it from any place in the world.”
When she hit 18, Messineo got serious about her education, getting a full scholarship to Hunter College. She followed that up with a Master’s from Queens College.
Messineo went to work utilizing her major of early childhood curriculum, specializing in different ways of learning and different teaching concepts. After getting divorced, she became a super mom, working long hours while going to school and taking care of her son all at the same time.
“I did it all back then,” she said. “I worked 17 hours a day, I was going to school on the weekends, and I had the baby and no help, but I didn’t have a choice but to work to my advantage.”
When her son left for his own college education, Messineo went back to school to get a doctorate from Columbia University, going on to work for the school and train a lot of its students.
When it came time to retire, Messineo headed for New Jersey, but after a few years decided family was what she wanted most and moved to Texas, where her son, grandchildren and three great-grandsons all reside. Despite the big gap both in geography and culture, she said she’s had nothing but a good time when it comes to the Lone Star State.
“I love the people of Texas,” she says. “I have people who have been so friendly to me, and they’ve realized that what people say about New Yorkers isn’t very true, we’re very friendly as well.”
After an adjustment period, Messineo found her niche at Discovery Village and began making friends and finding hobbies that scratched her itch and let her expand her knowledge base.
“I play card games, I love doing yoga, and I do meditative artwork, which is all the rage now,” she says. “I’ve learned how to make jewellery, and there are lots of nice people who I like being with.”
People don’t come much more fiercely independent than Messineo, but she has a message for those who, like herself, didn’t easily take to the idea of moving away from home to a new place late in life.
“Give a place a chance to show you what can happen,” she says. “I was not nearly as enthusiastic when I got here as I am now. If the place is run right, there’s not reason you should ever be bored or unhappy. I took some convincing, but it’s a good place, a really good place.”