San Simeon By the Sound resident Roz Fisher was inspired to make collages of family members by a very old collage — one that was put together by her daughter Myra 20 years ago. That collage features the wedding picture of Roz and her husband, Irving, from 75 years ago, several other pictures of the couple's younger years, and many of their children’s graduation moments.
Roz's collages cover the walls of her room at the Greenport nursing and adult health care center to keep her family close to her, she said. The family, which includes three children, four grandchildren, three step grandchildren, and nine grandchildren, is spread out between New York, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, and Florida.
Roz, 95, said that her family calls her nearly every day, but does not often visit — which is where the pictures come into importance.
“There are my son, my daughters, my grandchildren, my friends,” she said, referring to the pictures around her room. “I am so proud of them, and now I can see them everyday.”
Roz was born in 1917 in Manhattan. She attended a rural school in Connecticut before she moved back to the Bronx. She took Latin and loved education, as her grandmother instilled in her family a love of learning and the value of good education. But Roz’s dream of attending college during the Depression was not to be.
“That is my one regret — not getting an education,” she said.
A working girl, Roz married Irving in 1936 — another picture on her wall at San Simeon.
“He was very much a man,” she said. “He was always there for me.”
The couple lived in the Bronx, where they had Myra. When Myra was a young child, the family moved to Kerhonkson, where Irving found work as a “sandhog” — building tunnels to bring water from upstate to New York City. When Irving was injured on the job, the family moved back to the Bronx where two more children, Saul and Marilyn were born.
Roz lost her husband, Irving, 14 years ago. She has his picture on her dresser next to her collage of family.
Roz told the story of his last days as his daughter was getting married.
“We knew we was not well, so we held a separate ceremony at his nursing home,” she said. “About three months later, he passed away.”
Roz said that the family collages in her room at San Simeon help her day-to-day, but so does touring the outdoors of the North Fork — a place she’s driven through a lot over the years but never really absorbed.
“I’ve never really stayed out this far before,” she said. “It’s beautiful, I love it when we can just take a ride and get lost.”
“When I came to San Simeon, it was not easy for me,” she said. “To transition from being an independent woman to being just a piece of humanity. But I made up my mind that this was what I was going to do, and it worked out.”
Though Roz had the option of living with a family member, she chose a more independent way of living in a room in San Simeon, which is in its 45th year of business.
Roz said she loves the service from the staff at San Simeon, and that she plans to build up her family presence on her walls.
“I must have about 100 more pictures to go through and pick out,” she said. “I get up in the morning and I look around — and my family is here. And if that is not an uplift, I don’t know what is.”
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