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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One for the Ages

When I accepted my part-time job at the gourmet food/cheese shop, the hours conflicted with days I volunteered for our town’s Counsel on Elder Affairs.  Instead of serving lunch on Wednesdays, plus baking for, setting up and cleaning at a weekly senior breakfast, my schedule allowed for me to set up for the breakfast before rushing off to the paying job.  I lost out on the lunch totally.  Last week though, my days at the shop changed and for the first time in over a year, I wasn't there on a Wednesday.  I spend the morning on LCS Writes work, and when I looked up at 11:00, I realized there was plenty of time to see if they needed me at the center.

Volunteering with senior citizens offers profound reward.  The work is simple, the remuneration complex.  Seniors’ eyes glow when they see our “younger” faces. They openly express their gratitude for the simple tasks we perform, serving lunch, cleaning up, engaging in a little lighthearted banter.  

I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have my favorites and when I poked my head around the corner on Wednesday and S___’s eyes lit up, it was a reminder of the value of connecting with other humans, regardless of age.  M_____ held my hand as I teased her about the bandage on her head and we laughed when I reminded her that the last time I saw her she had a bruise there too.  Of course we weren’t making fun of her falls, only acknowledging that limitations occur and, as my father used to say; “Getting old ain’t for sissies.”  As the wrinkled faces of the friends I’ve come to know nodded and waved, there was also an awareness of open spaces.  Regular seats had new occupants, or worse, remained empty, which made me consider the warmth from the hug S____ gave me a while longer— kind of like the lollypop I snagged from the counter in the Elder Affairs office;  a sweetness savored long after the last dish was cleared.

19 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

In part of my "other" life back home I worked with seniors in their homes. The stuff I learned from them, the lessons they taught me are priceless. I miss them dearly, as they are all "gone".

And no, being old ain't for sissies. I'm glad you got to go and serve lunch.

Colette said...

What a great thing you are doing!

jabblog said...

The reward is in seeing their faces light up and their appreciation of the things you do that they now find difficult.

Old Kitty said...

The hug like the yummiest lollipop says it all!! Good for you!! Take care
x

Wine and Words said...

I've got my own little senior citizen center at the local coffee shop. They know my name and we chat. I'm not sure what I'll do when they are no longer around. They give to me as much as I them.

Diana Paz said...

You're doing beautiful work, Liza. Lovely post. <3

Tracy Jo said...

Your blog just made me smile. So awesome what you are doing! Motivates me to get out there and volunteer. I just found your blog...looking forward to reading more!

Jon Paul said...

"Gettin' old ain't for sissies."

Love that. :)

My "service" in the military adds up to something, no doubt; people thank me for it now and again. But it certainly lacks the kind of concrete, tactile reward you must feel helping those folks.

For my own part, I've not done enough of that kind of thing--helping people who really need it--but it's something that's been much on my mind for the last few months, as we consider our return State-side.

Thanks for the inspiration! :D

Robyn Campbell said...

You made my heart smile. (((hugs))) xoxo

Bish Denham said...

I definitely understand about aging not being for sissy's. And as I age I send out little prayers that there will always be people such as yourself who take the time to be with the elderly. We (I'm beginning to include myself in that crowd) have a lot of information in our heads, a lot of wisdom to pass on.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad you got to return to doing something you love!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I love this, Liza. It's not often you find people who serve so graciously and so full of life. I have a feeling you're impacting their lives a great deal.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Aww...that's really nice--for them and for you. :-)

jbchicoine said...

There is nothing like spending quality time with elders to make one really appreciate youth. I am always struck by the profundity of what time does. Behind each wrinkled and sagging face is someone who used to enjoy youth--someone who does not recognize the old person in the mirror...
...and there they are, with all that life experience and wisdom, and none the vigor to carry out thier heart's desire...I hate how the system we live in too often disregards--discards, even--the elderly...

...and that's where we are all headed...

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I used to run a Bingo game for seniors at our church. Once in a while, a few men would show up, but mostly, it was women, and I truly loved those ladies. But they could be soooooo funny. Each one of them paid one dollar, allegedly to help cover expenses. (not even close, but they liked to feel like they were paying their way) For that dollar, I provided them with several munchies, soft drinks, and a homemade dessert. PLUS, for each game of Bingo, there was a prize for the winner. (usually from some really cool stuff my mother and aunts collected and sent me from MD) One week, a lady won a really nice-looking pen and pencil set. She was really happy with it. At first. The following week, she brought it back and demanded another prize. The pen didn't write. Totally cracked me up, but I gave her a different prize.

Kittie Howard said...

Beautiful post, Liz. My eyes misted. You're a kind, sensitive person to take the time. I remember how my grandmother cherished every visitor.

Jan Morrison said...

Never doubt that every visit you make is vital. I have a 91 year old pal, Arlo Moen, who I visit every week. I love to see the light in his eyes and I appreciate hearing all his wonderful stories. Yay!

Arlee Bird said...

You are performing a great service in what you are doing and I admire you for doing so. More of us should be doing things like this.

Lee
Tossing It Out

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

How wonderful. It is amazing what we so often get out of things that we set out to do for others.
I do find that older people are easier to relate to in many ways.
So glad you are enjoying your time spent with these wonderful folks.