Writing a legacy: Senior publishes book at 83
Wanda Simar is the least likely candidate to write a book.
At 83 years old, the Orange, Texas, native has only a high school education. She spent her diverse career working odd jobs around town, anything from a pharmacy tech to a State Farm representative. Her limited writing experience mainly included composing eulogies for friends.
“I never even thought about writing a book,” said Simar, who’s lived at Calder Woods in Beaumont since 2014. “I always thought I wasn’t educated enough for that. Writing a book was the furthest thing from my mind.”
But today, after encouragement from friends and neighbors, the self-starter is a bonafide published author. Simar’s book, a 12-chapter collection of personal essays entitled “Words of Wisdom,” chronicles her quest for spiritual understanding through marriage, Parkinson’s disease and aging.
“It’s my faith journey,” Simar said. “It tells what I learned about the power of prayer and the power of suffering, and how God taught me to accept his will. Knowledge is what you learn, but wisdom is what you do with the knowledge.”
Simar didn't begin writing regularly until after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. She diligently studied scripture, prayed daily and composed spiritual essays about what she was learning through her time with the Lord. While she emailed these essays to friends, she never expected them to amount to anything more than electronic encouragement. Now, many of these essays are what comprise her book.
“It’s strange. I sit here at the computer and it just comes,” Simar said.
Simar defies most age-based stereotypes. She’s computer literate, uses Microsoft Word, proudly owns a smart phone and readily embraces change. She published “Words of Wisdom” herself for $499 and has already sold 200 copies. It's available for purchase online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Google Books.
“I’ve always felt like if anyone could do it then I could do it,” Simar said. “When I went to campfire camp as a little girl, they asked if I knew how to swim. It looked easy enough, so I said sure! Then I jumped in and almost drowned. I taught myself to play piano, how to sew, crochet, and use the computer. If you can do it, I can do it.”
In fact, when her church adopted computers, Simar worked in the office without pay for 18 years alongside her husband Roy, who hated technology. The two were high school sweethearts and were married for 58 years until his death in 2009. Together they had three children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
To Simar, “Words of Wisdom” is more than a fulfilled dream. It’s a legacy to her family and a testimony of God’s faithfulness. Her words are humble, coming from the mistakes she's made in her own life and the changes she's seen through the years.
“I hope that from the book people have a closer walk with Jesus and understand that life can be enjoyed,” Simar said. “So many people don’t want to be here. I try to accept everything from the hands of God and have a positive look on life and not be negative.
“In my wildest dreams I would never have thought anything I would do would be interesting to other people. I have been blessed, and I thank God every day for all he has done for me.”