If Nora Proksch had a short list of life advice, the following items would be near the very top:
- Don’t take life too seriously.
- Find a buddy who makes you laugh way too hard.
- Make everything a celebration (even the least festive of holidays.)
A resident of Belvedere Senior Housing, Proksch revealed she didn’t fully embrace these values until she moved in on December 31, 2018. Now, just a handful of months into her new home, Proksch is never going back.
“I love just being myself and getting into a little trouble while I do it,” she joked. “If I can make someone smile or laugh, that’s my goal in life. The sillier I get, the better!”
The Belvedere team and residents have already become accustomed to her tricks. She has played the role of the resident Easter bunny, sneaking around the floors at night, hiding treats in nooks and crannies and leaving humorous messages on neighbors’ doors. With tactics like these, she still maintains the element of surprise—“What will she do next?” everyone ponders.
It all started the day she moved in to Belvedere. To provide a little backstory, Proksch has a walking cane she affectionately refers to as her “service dog, Charlene.”
“Charlene is the perfect service dog,” Proksch gushed. “She’s even learned how to flick on the light switch for me when I don’t feel like getting up, and pull the shades down, and how to be the ideal dance partner.”
When her sister helped Proksch move in, they both decided to write, “Home of Nora and her service dog, Charlene” on the sign hanging outside her door. Proksch said this spun the Belvedere crew into a mini tailspin. “What service dog?” they wondered. “You never mentioned you had a service dog!”
Once Proksch explained Charlene’s true identity, everyone quickly caught on to her sense of humor and the shenanigans that could be expected from that point forward.
On the day that Proksch spoke with the reporter for this story, she decked out Charlene in full Easter splendor, pastel bunny tails and all. Proksch herself was dressed equally as festive, complete with bunny ears atop a hat flashing neon twinkle lights. Her great-granddaughter, Kenzie (or Little Doodabug, as Proksch affectionately calls her) showed off her seasonal finery, as well. She even gifted the reporter a sparkly egg filled with confetti. “All her idea,” Proksch insisted with a wink. By the way, while Kenzie is Little Doodabug, Proksch is Big Doodabug.
Holidays are a perfect way for Proksch to display her vibrant personality and giddiness for celebration. She’s already planning her Fourth of July ensembles. She carries all this vibrancy into her friendships, too. Fate was at play when Proksch met Debbie, her “Bobbsey Twin,” at Belvedere Senior Housing.
“When we’re together, we laugh so hard our ribs hurt,” Proksch said. “You should always try to find someone in your life who is just as weird as you are—and, boy, did I find her!”
Proksch cherishes her friendships, new and old, as well as her family. The third oldest of seven siblings, she spent most of her childhood moving between Ohio and the Chicagoland area. Her father was a high-rise window washer, and his work moved them around quite a bit—the family moved 38 times before Proksch was in her teens. It was never easy, and she credits much of her resiliency to battling that sense of impermanence.
“There were a lot of rough points in my life—I have survived a lot of hardships, and let me tell you, that has really made me the person I am today,” she said.
Taking nothing for granted, Proksch fills the lives of those around her with color, volunteering to deliver newspapers to the residents and treating them to her singular sense of merriment. Of course, she saves a little time for recharging, too.
“Oh, I take three naps a day,” she deadpanned. “It keeps me beautiful!”
Her parting advice?
“Life is too short—don’t take things so seriously!” she said. “You see so much negativity in the world, but no matter how negative you feel, you have to realize that you could always have it so much worse. Don’t stay in a negative place. Live, be happy, and remember to have a little fun.”