Marilyn Brennecke Sipiora turned 90 this spring, but it wasn’t until recently that she began to write poetry and proverbs to express herself, and to inspire others’ spiritual beliefs. One of them, appropriately titled “Turning 90,” reads:
“Now that I’m 90 what shape am I in?
I’m not too fat and I’m not too thin.
My thyroid is too low and my blood pressure too high
But nevertheless, I’m not ready to die.
I love to dance and I love to sing
But I’m not too fond of suffering.
I hope to live the rest of my life
In fairly good health without any strife.”
These days, Sipiora’s biggest worry is that not enough needy folks will hear her message. Since the lifelong, devout Catholic believes God is using her as a conduit to send out words of wisdom to a spiritually hungry world, she wants to find an economical way to publish them so that they can reach as many individual readers as possible. Yet her lofty ambition is proving difficult to attain for a senior who doesn’t use the web, social media or a smartphone.
Still, if you’re sitting on a Laguna Woods bus and Sipiora notices you frowning, she might approach you with a smile and hand you a photocopy of one of her original poems to lift your spirits. Shopping at the local drugstore or taking a leisurely walk? She may see the worry on your face as a cue to deliver a poem written specially to ease stress.
While she writes poetry for her family, she says, in addition, “I’ve probably given out hundreds of poems to strangers as well.” Her fans include a bus driver she has befriended, a retired monsignor who served at her parish and a local television interviewer who spoke with her for a recent cable episode about people 90 years and over. He raved when she recited a couple of her poems.
A more prominent fan is Father Joseph Mary Wolfe, host of EWTN’s “The Church Universal,” who complimented Sipiora for her “catchy little poems.” Several of her poems appear in the 2017 JSerra Catholic High School spring yearbook, “The Paw Print.”
Sipiora doesn’t take credit for her cleverness. “God puts the words into my head and it goes to my hands” for her to write as He wills it, Sipiora says. “If I can get the message of God’s word out there to change minds and hearts, I’m happy He’s letting me do this.”
In fact, she has occasionally sent some of her poems to Orange County Catholic. She is vowing to keep trying to learn to use social media as an outlet for her writing or to try to publish a poetry book for public consumption.
In the meantime, the mother of five – who didn’t retire from secretarial work until she was 77 years old – keeps writing her poems and proverbs in addition to babysitting four of her grandchildren every week. Her oldest son, a psychologist, lives with her and his 14-year-old daughter, Olivia, lives part-time at her grandmother’s house as well. All told, Sipiora has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
She worries about her offspring and about the state of the highly secular world we live in today. Another proverb of hers addresses this concern: “What the world needs now is more commandments: Thou shalt not brag, complain, criticize, nag, waste or worry.”
Sipiora notes that God doesn’t leave her alone with her thoughts very much, even at night. She often wakes to write a few lines down. One of her recent poems written to let people know they aren’t alone is titled, “It’s Just a Matter of Time:”
“Whenever your problems are right now
There’s always hope they’ll improve somehow.
What it they don’t, what can you do?
Just give it time and prayer and perseverance too.
Never give up or give in to despair
Miracles happen, they’re not that rare.”