Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ordinary Moments, Extraordinary Lessons




From a debate over paper towel placement (you know what I am talking about… we’ve all had those with our roommates or spouses!), a short Shakespeare poem, a bible verse, a conversation with a neighbor, our seniors’ stories remind me that life has a way of handing us extraordinary lessons through ordinary moments. If a senior in your life has shared an extraordinary life lesson with you, tell us about it here! https://bestdaysofar.wufoo.com/forms/my-best-day-story/
Frances Bryce
1.22.2015
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

During the Christmas Holidays I usually visit our home in California where my son, daughter and her husband live.  I have shortened my time which was usually from the months of November to March; now it is when the school is out for the holiday because I am a Reading Buddy for students in one of the third grades at Greenfield which I enjoy. 

A conversation arose one day during the holiday about the placement of a roll of paper towels.  My daughter noticed that the roll was placed from front to back after her husband had put the roll on.  She thought it was on the wrong way.  He asked me about the paper placement.  I replied that the direction of the roll was an option.  When they left, I replaced it the way she usually has it, so as not to make an issue of such an unimportant thing.  Her husband had stated that he didn’t know there was a right or wrong way.  I reversed the towels later as we talked she said that she had replaced the order of the towel as her husband had placed it. We had a good laugh about pleasing the other person and not getting bogged down in insignificant things.

Norman Cain
4.23.2015
Be True to Yourself

To thine own self be true,
and this must [follow], as the day the night
thence thou cannot be false to any man

It took me a while to adhere to the message in the preceding poem by William Shakespeare. I was victimized by peer pressure; therefore I was not being true to myself. I was allowing others to dictate my lifestyle. I constantly worried about what they would say about me – in and outside of their presence. After many hard-learned lessons I abandoned denial about how many members of my clique were self-centered and manipulative. At that point I began to follow the path I laid out for myself, which made me feel at ease. While I did not abandon my peers, I certainly did not allow their opinions to dictate my life. To thine own self be true.

Brenda Scantlebury
5.21.2015
Live Each Day to the Fullest

The Bible describes one’s life here on earth as a vapor! A Vapor can be a substance made of moisture, of steam, or smoke. None of these substances last very long. So with this in mind…

There’s a scripture that declares: “Work while it’s a day, for when night cometh, no man can work!”

So . . . live each day to the fullest! Make the very best of it! If life gives you lemons – make lemonade. If it brings honey – do like the bees who make it. Thank the Lord God and keep on living, keep on working. Amen.

Joan Bunting
3.12.2015
Think Before You Act

As a young girl, I’ve always enjoyed listening to older people. Even when I was in my thirties and forties I had neighbors that I would visit and they would tell me stories about their lives. Listening to older people has taught me a lot.

I used to hear some of them say how salt can cause your blood pressure to rise, even to the point where you might have to be on medication for the rest of your life. When I got older I stopped using so much salt and am now trying to use hardly any at all.

There was one lady probably in her eighties about how she came home from work one day. One of her sons had welts on his body. He had gotten a whipping from his father. She said, she was so angry, she went to her husband’s job to kill him.

When she arrived she asked to see her husband. She said it took so long for him to come that by that time her anger had ceased. She just looked at him and walked away. He never knew that she had come to kill him. The son nor the father never mentioned why the son was whipped.

She ended her story by saying, “When you’re angry take the time to cool off before you react.”

To me that’s a great lesson to learn. There are lots of people, I believe, are in jail

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jana, Loretta, Rochelle and Dolores (Stories of Love and Laughter)



Following her personal story in the previous blog post, Jana handpicked a few recent stories by our seniors to put a smile on our faces - thanks Jana!

I chose these stories because I felt like they shared a similar theme of love and laughter. Stories that you most definitely could tell to your children or grandchildren years down the line.  They are precious memories we take with us. Hope you readers enjoy! – Jana

Loretta Dotson
3.12.2015
The Traveler

I love to travel. I visit so many paces almost daily. In London Big Ben was as amazing as huge. The Great Wall of China was astounding. It is extremely cold in Alaska but the fishing was great. The volcanoes in Hawaii are exciting and potentially deadly. Jamaica, Jamaica so beautiful the people pleasant and colorful and so accommodating. They love the American dollar, don’t we all?

Haiti is still struggling but still hanging in there. There are so very many places to visit and enjoy. The White House, the oval office, a spectacular room of course. Ah, Italy, great pasta, pizzelle and wine. In Germany and Switzerland beautiful chalets and mountains. But, for me, the clocks, the watches and the wrist and pendants variety are unique.

These places mentioned, you may enjoy also – just pick up a book! You can visit any place, stay as long as you like and revisit, no parking, no reservations. I’m revisiting New Orleans, the French Quarter. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

Rochelle Tynes
4.23.2015
AKA 20/20

I drew a blank and couldn’t think of anything to write about.  In fact I really started not to come but I had said in the beginning of the year that I was going to try and come every week.  So I basically gave my word, I didn’t want to go back on it so I came.

I guess I’ll just sit here and enjoy the stories that other tell today.  The stories are always so very interesting and bring to mind things that occurred during out young years.  They are often pleasant memories of people and times that have long passed but should be returned so the younger generation can have a better outlook on life to appreciate what they have and not be so anxious to have everything immediately and move on the next needed “right now thing” and to know that an education is a thing to be honored to achieve instead of taking it so lightly and leaving school.  And taking care of oneself is a goal and not someone else’s responsibility.  Anyway, I was just gonna listen.

Dolores Malone
5.21.2015
The Day I Stopped Eating Watermelon

When I was seven years old, I hardly minded where infants came from. I just cared that they were here to be played with like dolls, to be coddled and kissed. I also worried little about the origin of the adults in my world. In fact, I worried little about how people – babies, teens, adults – come to be because I had developed my own theory about their genesis.

My seven-year-old imagination, combined with Bible stories, determined that God put each fully-formed person on earth at a specific age. And those people matured from that point forward. God, for example, made mom 30-ish; Cathy, two weeks old; Uncle Jay, 40-something; my oldest sister 4; and most of my friends between 3 and 7. Adults, already old at birth, bypassed infancy, childhood and other early maturation milestones. I figured that I was actually a little over two when God made me for my parents – no matter that folks told stories about my existence before then. To put it succinctly, I theorized that God crafter humans as completely developed babies, children, or adults.

So it was that I was surprised at seven to learn that my theory of birth was flawed. I was sitting on my front steps with my sisters, a few teenagers and young adults, when I noticed a stranger, a lady walking toward my steps. I looked her up and down. I was captivated by her shiny, black hair, presumably oiled with Royal Crown Pomade before being pressed straight with a hot comb and then curled into a page-boy, with evenly-spaced finger waves complimenting her hairdo. I was also mesmerized by her bright red lipstick – the color of which “is only worn by Jezebels,” according to my Mom.

But what shocked me more than anything else about the lady with the fancy hair and painted lips was her bulging belly. I had never seen anything like it. Her stomach stuck out so far that I thought that somehow she might have been concealing something enormous like a basketball beneath her loose-fitting dress.

As the lady, who looked no more than 20, wobbled toward the group, she greeted a teenager sitting on the top step. (Neighborhood protocol dictated that the youngest children sit on the bottom steps, the oldest people on the upper ones) The lady groaned as she climbed to where her friend sat. All the while, I couldn’t take my eyes off her huge stomach. I was speechless.

Finally, when the lady was seated, I whispered to my sister, “What’s wrong with her? Why is her stomach so fat?”

“I don’t know,” my sister replied, “ask her.”

So I did. And what a shock I got. “I swallowed a watermelon seed, and now I’m gonna have a baby. It’s growing in my stomach,” the lady said.

I could hardly believe what I heard. I asked, “You mean a baby comes from a watermelon seed?”

“Yep, so don’t ever swallow one.”

Hence, on that day and for the next few years I refused to eat watermelon. I feared germinating a baby inside my wee, wee belly.    

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jana (A Volunteer's Reflections)

Jana and her Granny
Jana listening to our seniors' stories
We all know the seniors of Best Day are inspiring, but no less inspiring are the voices of volunteers who work so hard to help our seniors find their voices. Today, I have invited volunteer and my friend Jana to tell her heartwarming Best Day story!

Greetings Readers,

Let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Jana Henry. I am a group facilitator here at Best Day of My Life So Far. By day I work for an awesome church in Philadelphia and by night or any other free time I have I write. Being a writer at heart is one of the things that drew me to Best Day. Currently I and a few other facilitators have been helping with our weekly classes while Benita spends time loving on her new baby boy who is the cutest little thing ever.

I started with Best Day back in 2013. I was actually taking a stroll through social media as we often do in this day and age and I saw a peer of mine hanging out with a group of seniors. So I asked him what Best Day was all about. I had recently lost my grandmother and was yearning for a relationship like the one we had shared. What I had found is that it’s hard to replace those bonds but doors always open to make new ones. Long story short I was connected to Benita and I just jumped right in.

Best Day for me has been many things. It was a break from the hustle and bustle of school as I finished my undergraduate degree. The seniors were my cheering section when I finally finished school and a great encouragement as I searched for a full time job and thankfully found one later that year. I have enjoyed a walk through nostalgia every week as the seniors share what they write. I admire the wisdom that I have been blessed to be in a room with. I sometimes feel bad that the world doesn’t know just how awesome this program is and I make it a point to talk about our class everywhere I go.

In the recent weeks class has been a helpful reminder to slow down and live in the moment. I am grateful that Benita and the seniors have entrusted me to join in on their weekly storytelling. I feel blessed. Check out some of our blog posts and it is my hope that you may find joy to take with you throughout your day today!

-Jana

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dolores (A Character Building Ditty from the Past)

This story by Dolores is Rough and Tough! Consider yourself warned – don’t mess with Dolores and her friends ;) If Dolores’ story here reminds you of a ditty that you and your friends came up with as kids, tell us about it here: https://bestdaysofar.wufoo.com/forms/my-best-day-story/

Dolores Malone
4.16.2015
This story by Dolores is Rough and Tough! Consider yourself warned – don’t mess with Dolores and her friends ;) If Dolores’ story here reminds you of a ditty that you and your friends came up with as kids, tell us about it here: https://bestdaysofar.wufoo.com/forms/my-best-day-story/

Dolores Malone
4.16.2015
A Character Building Ditty from the Past

Many seniors remember some of the childhood ditties that helped mold them into upstanding citizens.  For the most part, adults including parents, teachers and ministers taught these ditties.  Yet, I learned some of my favorite character-building ones from peers.  I recall one such ditty – a counterintuitive one – that still creates waver of joy within me whenever I explore the past.

I was a tween then – a youngster between 10 and 12 – in the 1950’s when a group of five girlfriends about my age sat with me on the front steps of the home where I lived in a poverty-stricken, gang-ridden section of North Philadelphia.  As evening neared, we girls were bored, presumably having exhausted every game we knew.  But the newest girl in our group taught us not merely a new game, but a bonding ditty of feigned bravado.  While chanting this ditty, we six girls linked arms, puffed out our chests, and marched shoulder-to-shoulder up and down the sidewalk on my side of the block, leaving little room for passerbys and scattering like cockroaches whenever someone approached.  Loudly, in unison, we chanted:

“We are rough; we are tough.
 We are the girls who don’t take no stuff.
 If you don’t like us, you can smell our feet.
 ‘Cuz we are the girls from Berks Street.”

Contrary to what appears to be merely a gang-related chant, the singing of the Rough and Tough Ditty, along with the requisite posturing and boasting, was an exercise in character development.  While assuming a sense of false bravado to conquer the fear of gang intimidation – especially intimidation involving coercion to join one of the two rival girl gangs in the neighborhood, I learned the importance of courage, loyalty, cooperation and friendship.  Saliently, thanks to my experience then, I also learned the value of making the right choices of choosing to chant and bond with gang-free friends rather than actually join a gang, a gang of thugs.

That’s all Folks!!!  …Until next time.

Many seniors remember some of the childhood ditties that helped mold them into upstanding citizens.  For the most part, adults including parents, teachers and ministers taught these ditties.  Yet, I learned some of my favorite character-building ones from peers.  I recall one such ditty – a counterintuitive one – that still creates waver of joy within me whenever I explore the past.

I was a tween then – a youngster between 10 and 12 – in the 1950’s when a group of five girlfriends about my age sat with me on the front steps of the home where I lived in a poverty-stricken, gang-ridden section of North Philadelphia.  As evening neared, we girls were bored, presumably having exhausted every game we knew.  But the newest girl in our group taught us not merely a new game, but a bonding ditty of feigned bravado.  While chanting this ditty, we six girls linked arms, puffed out our chests, and marched shoulder-to-shoulder up and down the sidewalk on my side of the block, leaving little room for passerbys and scattering like cockroaches whenever someone approached.  Loudly, in unison, we chanted:

“We are rough; we are tough.
 We are the girls who don’t take no stuff.
 If you don’t like us, you can smell our feet.
 ‘Cuz we are the girls from Berks Street.”

Contrary to what appears to be merely a gang-related chant, the singing of the Rough and Tough Ditty, along with the requisite posturing and boasting, was an exercise in character development.  While assuming a sense of false bravado to conquer the fear of gang intimidation – especially intimidation involving coercion to join one of the two rival girl gangs in the neighborhood, I learned the importance of courage, loyalty, cooperation and friendship.  Saliently, thanks to my experience then, I also learned the value of making the right choices of choosing to chant and bond with gang-free friends rather than actually join a gang, a gang of thugs.

That’s all Folks!!!  …Until next time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Joe (Summertime)

Who else here loves summer besides Joe?? I do, do you? How did you spend your summers growing up? If Joe’s story here reminds you of one of your own, tell us about it here: https://bestdaysofar.wufoo.com/forms/my-best-day-story/

Joe Garrison
5.28.2015
Summertime

I guess I really started enjoying summers when I was 6 years old. And it was the first time I had ever heard of Memorial Day. I went to a special boarding school for the blind where we went home on weekends. Sometimes I stayed in on weekends and one day I was listening to a song on the radio called “Cruising Down the River” on A Sunday Afternoon. Also, it was the 1st Father’s Day I remember and that stood out because it was the first cake I remember my mom making. It was a coconut and pineapple cake and she said it was a special Father’s Day cake for my dad.

Usually my summers were spent eating watermelon, playing with the neighborhood kids and going to Vacation Bible School for 2-3 weeks at the Community Center. Sometimes, on the 4th of July we’d either visit my grandmother (my grandfather’s birthday was on July the 5th) or going to the park for a picnic.

My teenage summers weren’t that memorable. The most memorable summers after that was when I was 20 and 21, volunteering at a work camp to remodel the community center. I even painted a house. And there were activities for all the kids there, like lawn games and basketball, baseball and badminton. Even though some of my summers weren’t especially memorable, summer is my favorite time of the year.

Summers are always beautiful to me.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hazel (Welcome Oldies)

To ease into the summer weekend, how about some oldies? Turn up some oldies on your computer, or your vintage record player if you are cool enough to own one ;) to read this to get into the mood! Do you have a favorite oldie or a memory related to a special oldie? Tell us about it here: https://bestdaysofar.wufoo.com/forms/my-best-day-story/

Hazel Nurse
4.23.2015
Welcome Oldies

Years ago after a long day at work and a demanding time fixing dinner and attending to the needs of my family, I was happy to relax at last.

Whether it meant winding up the Victrola inherited from mom and dad or just putting a “forty-five” in our record player later, music did the trick. Songs like “Dock of the Bay,” “You Made Me Love You,” or “Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do?” will forever remain with me.

However with the strides made in new technology, I can enjoy “For Sentimental Reasons” and many old songs formerly recorded by Billy Eckstine, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole and others by switching on Channels 447 and 446 without changing a record or fixing a broken needle. That is just one of the gifts of being around this long. To continue to close my eyes and review the world of music.