Sunday, November 21, 2010

***We Don't Need Money To Give Back***

One of the best days I 've ever had giving back, didn't happen at a charity event, or a toy drive, or even a walk for a cause; but it did happen while I was on a leisurely walk.

It was 1983 and a beautiful sunny day in June. My girlfriend and I decided to take a power walk around the neighborhood. As we were near the end of our walk, we noticed the doors to the Senior Center were open.

My friend looked at me and said "why don't we go in and say hi and visit with some of the Seniors." Having gone to allot of Senior Homes as a teenager, especially during  Christmas, because  my Mom worked at one,  I thought it was a great idea.

Having been around older people often, I saw first hand how lonely many of them were because they had very few visits from family members.

So in we went. We were immediately welcomed with big smiles. The men thought we were sent to be their personal dates, they really were adorable. Two young women in their twenties wanting to spend time with them willingly, wasn't something that occurred in their everyday lives.

At first we sat down with a table of ladies, played a game of cards, told some jokes, and shared some snacks. Then it was into the lions den of men. Deb and I decided to split up, she went to the checkers, I went for chess. You would have thought we set up  kissing booths on each side of the center, before you knew it, there were lines forming for who would play us next.

Just as we caught each others expressions from across the room, you know the look "like now what do we do?" We heard a loud assertive voice say..."hey what about the guys playing ping pong, what are we, Chopped liver." "That would be Max" said Sid, my chess opponent.

Naturally, we had no choice, ping pong doubles would be next. After being beaten by Sid, he thanked me for playing and the conversation, and then bowed and kissed the top of my hand. I felt like a princess, I was really enjoying myself.

Older people have the most wonderful stories to share. So Deb finished her match and we were off to ping pong. Once we started playing it was clear that Max was an extremely good ping pong player and took his matches quite seriously.

We ran our butts off, barely beating Max and his partner Abe, so of  course Max insisted on a rematch. He lightened up in the second game, a began telling us about his wife who had passed, and his days in the service during the war; it was like spending time with our own grandfathers, except Max was in excellent shape.

They beat us the second match, it was another close one, so we called it a draw.
We sat around with the rest of the crew for another half hour shooting the breeze and then headed out.

It was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I had ever spent. we met a lot of interesting people, with wonderful stories that were filled with history and wisdom. We had as much fun as they did. It would have never crossed my mind to do that. Had we not gone on our walk I probably would have missed out on the opportunity to give my time to people who really appreciated it. They craved the interaction and a chance to share a piece of their lives with someone.

 A wonderful time was had by all; total strangers, who proved, you're never to old to make new friends or share an act of human kindness. Patricia VanDenburg©

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely story. I too adore older people. As you say, they have so much to tell and teach us don't they? I do hope you went back one day to see them all - even briefly. I'll bet they talked about that for a long time afterwards.
    As you say, too many people use these homes to 'dump' their parents. Aren't they lucky their parents didn't 'dump' them when they needed someone to look after them.