When she was a slip of a girl growing up outside the town of Alden in the countryside east of Buffalo, she was just learning to play the piano and of course had no idea what life might hold in store for her. Then the organist at her family’s church who had heard her play a hymn on the piano volunteered to give her organ lessons. Something magical took hold of her and never let go.
That happened 80 years ago and today 87-year-old Lois Batchelor Howard can look back on an extraordinary life of creative expression and recognition as a musician, a poet and the author of seven books. Today, Lois is living a lifetime away from that town in western New York and is settled down in the totally different landscape of southern California, in the city of Desert Hot Springs.
“My life’s so full of music!” she exclaims, recounting how she earned her undergraduate degree from a prestigious Midwest university’s School of Music with a major in her first love, the pipe organ. Among the highlights of her lifetime in music was performing on one of the largest outdoor pipe organs in the world.
But there’s a lot more to her story, as Lois has found an additional outlet for a strong creative bent that actually began way back in her early girlhood, which is to put her thoughts and feelings into words, both in poetry and books. Many of her poems have been published in literary periodicals and in book form, including Alive, a collection that appeared in 2019. She offers up her poem “In Some Measure” to illuminate her thoughts about being a poet:
In Some Measure
I am called a poet
I’ve always wanted to be one
and I think almost everyone is
in their thoughts or in the sum
of their days and years
as their lives unexpressed
on paper or sung
meter themselves forward
in an art that is everyone’s
whether in silence
or with dreams
Living itself is poetry
or breathed in
Lois’ music, poetry and books are clearly the work of a creative mind seeking expression, but her art and her outlook on life are also deeply rooted in her own life lessons, beginning with advice from her mother. “I think my Mom’s wisdom most affected my feelings about living a good life,” Lois explains. “She advised me to always be aware of how the other person might feel. I think this has helped me far more than I even know. I don’t think it’s too Pollyanna-ish to say I also am grateful that I have been and am an optimist. My advice is to give optimism a try!”
She also credits Prevagen with helping her maintain her memories of a long and good life. “I’ve been taking Prevagen for several years now to help keep me sharp, true and sound,” she reports. “I am a writer and it is a joy that all feels the same as it has for years. I am 87 years old and I continue to be published and win awards. Prevagen has been my silent partner along the way!” She also likes to point out other important sources of joy in her life, “including having four lovely daughters and a special relationship for 30 years with Frank, my gentleman love.”
Lois Batchelor Howard has indeed led a long and fruitful life, having come a long way from her upbringing in a small town in New York to her life in the southern California desert, imbued with memories and meaning, and an unquenchable thirst for expressing herself.