When Irvin Worden’s Lenexa retirement community put out a call for short stories to be included in a future children’s book, he knew he had just the story.
He sat down at the computer and finally put on paper the bedtime story that he had been sharing with his children for years — “Hoppy the Rabbit.”
“It’s a story I told to my daughters when they were young that I made up a long time ago,” Worden, 85, said. “The rabbit kept going to the doctor because he couldn’t hop and the doctor would fix the left side and then the right side. And the moral of the story is to keep on trying and don’t give up.”
“Hoppy the Rabbit” will be included in a new children’s book due for release this winter called “Bedtime Stories: Original Tales Shared from One Generation to the Next.” The stories in the book were compiled by Holiday Retirement, which owns numerous senior living communities across the country. Worden is a resident of Greenwood Terrace, a Holiday Retirement-owned senior living community in Lenexa.
Of the 57 stories submitted nationwide for the book, Worden’s story was one of only five selected to be included in the book. The purpose of the children’s book is to encourage people to read bedtime stories to their loved ones. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the National Center for Families Learning, an organization dedicated to improving family literacy.
Worden’s story about Hoppy left such an impact on his four children that his youngest daughter, Sue Brettmann, also encouraged him to write down the story that he had always told from memory and submit it for the book. She wanted to make sure the tale would live on for future generations.
“When I think about all the books that he would read to me when I was little, it was always the rabbit story that I wanted to hear,” Brettmann said. “And I thought why don’t we have that written down? That was a really special thing in my life and that is something that can be passed on.”
Writing has always been an enjoyable hobby for Worden. During his career as a postmaster in Nebraska, Worden found time to enjoy his hobby by writing poems and short stories. Years after he retired in 1986, he found a new career as a part-time magazine editor for the State Troopers Association of Nebraska.
Worden’s love of the written word even led him to write a 76-page book about Korea. His book, “Korea, the Chosen Place, A Place Between Heaven and Hell,” was inspired by his time spent as an Air Force aircraft control and warning operator during the Korean War. The book and pictures that accompanied it were published on a CD in the early 2000s.
But at this stage in his life, Worden wasn’t expecting to have another opportunity to be an author. He was thrilled to hear the news that his story would be included in a children’s book for all to enjoy.
“It’s really an honor to be picked from all of the retirement units,” Worden said. “I was very surprised when they called.”
Worden’s daughter was also pleased to know that her dad’s story would soon be delighting readers young and old.
“I am just really proud because he has always been good at this,” Brettmann said. “And at his age I am excited for him to see some success.”
The story really has been somewhat of a family affair. Worden said that his wife, Irene, who also lives with him at Greenwood Terrace, served as his proofreader for “Hoppy the Rabbit.”
His daughter said she looks forward to one day reading the story when she has grandchildren. And Worden said he delights in knowing that a piece of him will live on forever with his family.
“It is very special to me because it is something that they can remember me by and use some of the suggestions in their own life,” Worden said.
Sara Beane: firstname.lastname@example.org