Thursday, January 27, 2022

Why I love Marco Island



Marco Island Writers and the Marco Island Library Branch of Collier County collaborated on a writing contest for non-published writers. The topic: “Why I love Marco Island.” In no particular order, the finalists are Shirley Woolaway, Elaine Lancaster, E.J. Noyes, Maureen Chadaba and Anna Marie Smith.  Their entries can be viewed online at

The April meeting of Marco Island Writers was held at Mango’s in the Esplanade to celebrate the group’s upcoming third anniversary. A special thanks goes out to Kristine Wruk for organizing the event. Good times were had by all. The May meeting will resume at the Marco Lutheran Church at 525 N. Collier Blvd. on May 14. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. to network and the meeting runs from 6 until 8 p.m. The topic for the May meeting will be “Pitch Practice.” Authors and writers with WIP (works in progress) are invited to share their books with the group in a pitch format for promotion to agents.

For more information, contact Joanne Tailele, president at 239-784-2637 or log on to the website at


Entry 1:

Our goal was to drive south in Florida looking for the perfect place to be warm during winter visits. Our two criteria: it had to have a lovely view and a safe boat dock close to good boating. On two previous Florida visits, near Longboat Key and in Englewood we’d had to don jackets, even hoods. We wanted warmth, so we pressed on south arriving at Marco Island one hot, humid, rainy July day in 1997.

We started over the two-lane S.S. Jolley Bridge with our eyes opening wide and heads swiveling as we took in the wide expanse of water and mangroves, the islands, the vivid purple bougainvillea lining our route. Maybe, just maybe, this would be it, our perfect getaway.

The next day our realtor showed us three properties. The last was a fourth-floor three bedroom condo with a stunning view of Smokehouse Bay beyond a swimming pool and the prerequisite boat dock. The condo needed a makeover but it had both the view and a dock and was in our price range. While thinking about its possibilities we checked out places of future interest and talked with a librarian, a YMCA staff member, a church secretary. We liked what we heard, “It’s a real community. People know each other, care about each other. And the weather’s great most of the year.” We drove back to our rental in Sarasota and called our realtor the next morning. “Yes, we want it.”

We made that decision almost seventeen years ago and never regretted it. For fourteen of those we were snowbirds arriving from Pennsylvania pale and weary, quickly donning shorts and sandals or bathing suits and flip flops to absorb as much sunlight and warmth as possible. We boated regularly, often taking friends with us to lunch and tried all restaurants with a dock including the tropical Snook Inn. We participated in YMCA classes, checked out library books, admired and bought items from the arts and craft shows or the Art League. We were regulars at the Farmer’s Market and we loved the movies. How unique it was to enjoy a chicken fajita and beer plus a Goldie Hawn or Tom Hanks feature at the same time.

Over the years, my husband’s Alzheimer’s disease had progressed taking away his ability to help with financial or practical matters. But on our last few trips south he had enjoyed socializing with those at an island day care and with friends at St. Mark’s Church. And though Tom had to sell his cabin cruiser, he loved the view of Smokehouse Bay from our lanai or walking to the Esplanade where we’d speculate on who owned the large yachts with their funny names. And always, Marco’s sunny, warm weather restored our spirits.

It made sense, then, to move to Marco to simplify our lives. The sunshine, the day care, the church, and friends we’d made were all waiting to welcome us. We had a buyer for our Sewickley, Pennsylvania home after only five weeks who accepted our asking price. Prospects for the move were rosy. Then I received a phone call from Colorado. Our middle son, Jeff, had died suddenly, and my life changed forever.

I did not think I could pick up any part of what had gone before. I could not think about moving.  But with the help of our surviving sons, their families and friends plus faith in God, I was able to face the future and meet the closing deadline.

We arrived on Marco in October of 2010, the day before our moving truck, loaded with furniture, pictures, and books, holding that which I couldn’t do without. A granddaughter from Orlando, Emily, brought a friend and did some initial unpacking. After she left, I called St. Mark’s, “Nan, I need help.” Help arrived, in the person of Linda, a volunteer who unpacked boxes, organized closets, and even took on the task of covering our kitchen chair seats and sewing a window valance that brightened my spirit.

A little later, with care giving and grief contributing to my inefficiency, I asked for help again. This time, the need was to respond to many notes and memorials from friends.  My new helper, Sue, another St. Mark’s volunteer had also lost an adult son and after notes were answered, we shared our stories. My healing had started and participating in two grief groups on the island has helped me put much sadness behind me.

While Tom was able, he enjoyed smoothies at Summer Day Café, walks on the beach, visits to the burrowing owls, and worship at St. Mark’s where he often had a joke for the minister. But in August of 2011, he became a resident of the local assisted living facility, an eight minute drive from our condo. I visited him most every day and we’d enjoy outings, the last to our condo for Easter dinner where he enjoyed the view of the bay with no memory of his past life there. He died a month later in May of 2013.

I continue to enjoy many of the things we did together on Marco and now do with friends. I sing in St. Mark’s choir and find meaning in the church’s activities where I’m supported and encouraged. I also lead an Alzheimer’s Association memory loss/caregiver support group monthly helping others cope with this disease and raise funds for the Association’s yearly walk and through a Reason to Hope luncheon.

Some days Resident’s Beach or Tigertail will entice me and I walk or sit on the sand, marveling at the gulf, the shore birds, the interesting cloud formations and the almost always, blue sky. Occasionally, I’ll take a visiting family member kayaking at nearby Rookery Bay, dolphin watching on the Dolphin Explorer, or viewing the latest exhibit at the Marco Historical Museum. Sometimes, the theater beckons with a visit to the Marco Players or the Island theater group. In short, Marco Island is everything that I hoped it would be and much more.

Did I mention that as Tom and I were leaving Marco after our very first visit, driving across the Jolley Bridge, a large, vivid rainbow appeared off to the East? We took it as approval for our beginning a relationship with Marco Island and its people. Now, after living here, I know there was a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow and I have found it.

copyright 2014 Shirley Woolaway


Entry 2:

Why Marco?

To answer that question is not as difficult as you might think. This is true despite the fact that my husband and I never started out even thinking of moving to Florida, let alone Marco Island.

Marco Island was the name of a place that was close to Naples, and when we couldn’t get a hotel reservation in Naples, our daughter told us there was, ” A great Marriott on Marco,”  and so we thought we’d give it a try.

Arriving that day in July 2008 we felt  as though we were a pair of modern-day explorers discovering a new, unspoiled territory.  In spite of the fact that the fantastic view of Marco, as we drove over the Jolley Bridge, was hampered by the new bridge construction, we experienced a feeling of giddiness and awe at that initial, beautiful sight of the lovely island.

I have to honestly say I still experience that same wonder and feeling of peace every time I climb the crest of the bridge and the island view comes in to sight.  It truly makes me feel that I am leaving behind a more hurried, stressed world and entering a tranquil place where it’s both OK, and encouraged, for one to slow down and “Smell the roses.”

I have even taken up fishing with my husband, riding my bike on a regular basis and spending time catching up on my reading, while learning to play Mah Jongg!  You say that this is just what happens when you retire, but I will argue with you, and I believe I will win this argument, that the beauty, mild climate, and easy living on Marco has made all that possible and more!

Why, even getting our new drivers’ licenses, car tags, registering to vote, and attending to all that other house-keeping stuff was actually pleasant!  What do I attribute this rarity to – the Marco Attitude, as I call it.

Marco Attitude is a phenomenon that is manifested by an almost continual calm demeanor and laid-back way of conducting oneself; that translates in to a feeling of peace and contentment which is pretty much impossible to destroy despite the annoying intermittent inconveniences of life such as; battling for a parking space, waiting for the light to turn green – twice, and putting up with the excessive rain of this past summer, to name just a few.  With the proper Marco Attitude you find yourself saying, “Not to worry, I could still be up North.”

In order to acquire this proper attitude you have to allow yourself to slow down, look around, and take the time to get to know the people and places that make up this paradise island.  You may accuse me of being too easily taken in by Marco, but as I began to acquire this attitude, and it is still a work in progress,  I found it was pretty much impossible to not appreciate and cherish the beauty of Marco and its people, which in turn made me fall in love with the island.  True, she’s not a perfect place, but even the imperfections and minuses of Marco are so much easier to accept and excuse when you weigh them against all the pluses!  It’s pretty darn hard to be upset and down when you have such a beautiful place, filled with days of great weather, good fishing, magnificent beaches with dramatic sunsets, terrific restaurants, plenty to do, if you want to, and friendly folks!

And so, as I continue to gladly discover and explore all the many things, tangible and otherwise, that make living on Marco Island so special and satisfying, I find myself wondering just what took me so long to find this rare beauty of a place I now call home.

copyright 2014  Elaine Lancaster


Entry 3:

An Island’s Largesse

Perfect spiral whelk,

And polished olive. Isle’s shells

Invite reflection.


The Island

Rosy bougainvillea kiss the sides

Of pale-toned stucco walls;

Slender palms’ supple, green fronds caress

Blue hues of southern skies;

And white, curved beaches softly share

Their sands with playful surf.


It’s not quite seven miles by four,

Quite small, as many say;

Floating just off-coast in the Gulf,

It blooms and thrives.

It warms the hearts of those away,

And glad we are – upon return –

To hear it bid us, “Stay.”

copyright 2014  E. J. Noyes



The Source

I have a theory about life, faith, the hereafter, and the Universe, or God, if you will. All of these very unique, personal, and oh so intricate concepts are very real, quite authentic and revealed to us in ways that choose us each individually. I say that these entities choose us, because it occurs to me that they have their own force, their unique energy and spirit. Yet as individuals, we too make our choices of these entities according to our own desires, our own needs.  Their gifts are specific. Their gifts are full of wonder. Their gifts are the promise of hope and eternity.

Never have I felt more alone than in 1995. I was a single woman diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Living in upstate New York, it was one of the coldest winters that I remember. Perhaps it was the mutation, the drastic change of schedule of what had once been guaranteed replication of my very cells; perhaps it was the baldness of my head, so exposing of my vulnerability; perhaps it was the thought that I would simply cease to be that imprisoned me in a solitary frost.

My theory of faith and the Universe chose me and I chose them. Then came the thaw where my soul, my inner core once again felt warmth. I found love! I met a man! This man spoke of an island that he wanted me to see. It was called Marco Island. Had I ever heard of such a place? Well, in fact I had, but I never dreamed I would get to see it. I never dreamed that I would find this piece of paradise after a time when my body had been scarred and my veins were injected with what I was told was a cure, but seemed more like poison.

But I did! I crossed over the Jolley Bridge to a world of beauty, peace, and healing. In 2001, I married that wonderful man on the sands of the island that I now call our home. I marvel at the splendor and magnificence of the water that so willingly surrounds the land, outlining and defining it as an island. I ask the burrowing owls the alluding question “Who?” In amazement, I watch the birds of Marco Island as if each one is inventing the miracle of flight. In a sense, they truly are. The palm trees sway in the tropical breeze as if to say “All is well. We abide with thee”.

I still dream about this incredible island and the fate that brought me here. I watch the sun dissolve into the gulf each night with the promise of tomorrow.  I still pinch the flesh of my arms each day to make sure that I am indeed alive. I continue to ponder my theory of life, faith, my soul, and the Universe. As I walk the crescent beach, do I walk with the angels?  Could it be that this is heaven? It is heaven indeed for me.

There is a tremendous source of energy in our Universe. When we learn how to tap into that source, our life becomes eternal and complete. I found that source on Marco Island. Some call it “energy”. I call it “God”. We can all call it “Love”.

copyright 2014  Maureen Murphy Chodaba


Entry 5:

Why Marco?

I came to Marco Island for sunshine, beach and warm weather and to my delight found heaven. The sunsets are breathtaking and the sky at night is so starry and bright. I never get tired of crossing the Jolly bridge, looking at the view still makes my heart flutter, it was love at first sight, so why leave this feeling I have in my heart for this wonderful place I call paradise.

copyright 2014 Anna Marie Smith

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