Thursday, January 23, 2020

Hustle and Bustle (Carolyn)

Hi everyone. I hope you've all done a little extra something for Martin Luther King Day. Even better if you did a little extra something with Best Day ;)

Last week was a flurry of activity, especially because the copier broke and I had to use the one in the offices. But the good news is that Carolyn came back and it seems like she'll be in Best Day for a while. It also seems like there will be a lot more older buds going to The Moth on February, and we might see another older bud onstage this time. And for those of you who read the January 9th post, you'll be pleased to know that one our news-worthy Senior Selfie is now on our front page! There's Kodak moments, and then there's Kodak moments within moments within moments.

Also, I saw something new to add to my growing list of "older buds indulging in modern pop culture" moments: an older bud wearing a T-Shirt with the Triforce from the Legend of Zelda games! I only saw it for a moment, so I couldn't get a picture. But now I'm wondering how familiar that older bud is with video games.

In the spirit of hustling, bustling, and just moving in general, I'm showing off Carolyn's history of movement: 

Carolyn Boston

When I was a young woman, I wanted to see the world and visit as many countries as I could. I started out by applying to the Peace Corps and was accepted to work in Vietnam. I also sent in an application to the Airlines to become an Airline Stewardess and was accepted. All this happened in one year. I was ecstatic! Now was my time to choose. I was undaunted by the challenges I’d face by accepting either offer. Weighing the pros and cons, I decided that working for the Airlines would be a wise choice because I’d have the opportunity of seeing the world and flying for free. I was still living with my parents. My mother heard of my desire to be a Globe Trekker, she negated both offers and refused to sign the paperwork for me. I was extremely disappointed and made my mind up to travel to as many places as I could while still working a full-time job. I’ve been to many places around the globe (Africa, Bahamas, California, New Mexico, Hawaii, etc.) and still have a burning passion to see more. My sister who has the same travel bug has been to India, Morocco, Egypt, and Amsterdam. Her most favorite place to visit was the Taj Mahal which she described as the most beautiful monument she’s ever seen. When you have a passion as I do, you are able to take risks and become fearless in your pursuit. Even though my mother said no, the drive to see the world continued. Both my sister and I are nomads who love adventure and answer the call of unusual and the different.

I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 16, 2020

In and Out (Carolyn and Philip)

It's wintertime and the living is breezy. We often have people breezing in and out of Best Day, for a myriad of reasons. Philip Pai is an excellent writer, but he won't come to Best Day unless he knows exactly what he'll write about. Sometimes I'll see him in the cafeteria, and then he'll vanish as soon as I turn my back. I've tried for months to give him a copy of one of his stories, before I realized he likes to leave right after lunch. I finally gave it to him last week.

Another older bud, Carolyn, has been good about coming to Best Day until a few weeks ago. Unfortunately she had some health challenges, but she's recovering. It feels like all sorts of health issues pop up in Winter, even in a Winter as warm as this. Regardless, everyone at Best Day is sending Carolyn our best wishes.

Carolyn Boston
Nature's Miracle
There is a fairly large population of geese in the area where I live. Last year, a female goose gave birth to five goslings on the roof of the building where I reside. Unfortunately, all of her babies perished because they fell into a concrete pit that houses a large exhaust system used for the building. The residents in my building watched the mother goose brave rain, snow, sleet, and severe cold weather as she sat on her eggs, keeping them warm and protecting them from the harsh elements. As myself and the residents watched this birthing play out on the roof, we marveled at her dedication and commitment to bringing her goslings into the world. It was a tragedy to see those goslings die. Many of the residents wept openly. This mother and her mate remained at the site verbally and lamented the loss of their children. We felt the parents grief as they honked in sadness for two solid weeks. Another root rose out of the gravel and concrete was a single lone free branch. It spiraled high in the air. It was a promise to the mom and dad that there would be restoration. At least that’s what we all perceived it to be. After that, the branch disappeared.
This April, 2019, the goose gave birth again in the exact same spot. I vowed that I would contact the PA Game Commission so that those goslings would not perish (tragedy would not repeat itself).
Another resident contacted them and the State Game Warden traveled all the way from Reading, PA with his daughter and crew because he said they couldn’t last another day – they would die. They rescued, at this time, all seven of her goslings. Even though these babies could not eat, they were strong and beautiful. It was a joyful experience to see the gander, mom, and the seven goslings parade off the property. Heads high and rejoicing they had a new living family.

Story About God
Philip Pai
Many years ago when President Mr. Regan was dead, I watched the funeral from the TV. I saw his wife, Nancy and his children. I think he was buried in California (I felt very sorry) beside his library in L.A., California. At last, there was a song that most people sing for him. After I listened, I liked it so much it was very beautiful. I really enjoyed it but I do not know the title.
Months ago, when I went to hear mass, the priest precast the same song … – it [brought] me to remember Mr. Regan. After, I hoped I could find the song title.
Last week, I had a chance to worship God. The father (priest) tells us which page, what number we will sing. After I listened, it’s as the exact song that I wish to look. That is really the gift from God. After I listened, I really enjoyed it. From the book, I know the title is “This Day God Gives Me.”
Thank God kept me so much [and] helped me get a wonderful and beautiful song. When I have time, I will listen to this special song.

I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Art of Aging (Eleanor, Elliot, Frances, José)

On November 14th, ABC News came to us about a news spot as part of their Art of Aging Series. ABC’s Art of Aging is all about the different ways seniors and people with disabilities are keeping themselves healthy and strong in Philadelphia and Delaware County. I’m proud to say that The Best Day of My Life So Far got its spot aired on January 2nd, 2020. You can watch the clip right here.

You can also stop by the Philadelphia Senior Center at 509 South Broad Street in Philadelphia to meet Best Day’s Older Buds in person. Whether you want to volunteer, meet some cool storytellers or just get an autograph, we’re always happy to have new people coming in. We’ve also posted stories from some of the older buds featured in The Art of Aging below:

Eleanor Kazdan
We were overjoyed when our grandson, Aron was born 5 years ago. My daughter, Julia, had struggled through 3 miscarriages with all the agony and devastation, and here, finally was this gorgeous little baby boy. I must confess that I was hoping she would have a girl, the reason being that her husband's family had a history of severe autism, and I had read that boys are 4 times as likely to be on the autistic spectrum. All seemed fine. But when Aron was 2, his daycare teacher voiced concerns. Aron didn't play with other children and did not readily respond to his name or questions. He also had some obsessive behaviors such as picking up every piece of trash in sight and throwing it in a garbage can. Testing showed that Aron was madly autistic. A diagnosis is a mixed blessing. At age 5, Aron has friends, responds to questions, has good eye contact and is funny and delightful. The obsessive behaviors have faded. He is a handful, though. He has occasional tantrums and difficulty transitioning from one activity to another due to autistic or normal 5-year old behavior. Well, I know for sure that he is a delightful little boy. Last week, after reading him a bedtime story, we talked about his 5th birthday party that day, and about other people's ages. "Is a 6-year-old still a child, Grandma? How about a 13-year-old? Will I live to 100?" I answered as best I could. A thoughtful silence followed. "I have a dream, Grandma, I'm going to live for a hundred million years!"
Elliot Doomes
I'm thinking of going to Wildwood, NJ for Thanksgiving. I have some family there. I have my daughter, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, three grand daughters, a grandson, and two great-grandsons.. The two youngest ones, they may recognize me, but they really don't know who I am. I mean, they hear me called "Pop-Pop" but I really don't think that they understand the significance of that title.They think its just my name. It's not who I am. I want them to know who I am while there's still time. I neer met or knew my grandpa and I had very little time with my father. I knew him, but I never got to know him. He passed when I as just about eight years of age. And I often wondered about who he was and what kind of man was he? I was liked by all my grandchildren and both of my grandchildren for who "Pop-Pop" really is. When I visit them, I very seldom hear my name mentioned by them. Although my grandson has my first name s his middle name, and so does his son. Although they know where the name comes from, they really don't know who that person is. And that's what I want them to know. So this holiday visit provides me with the opportunity to spend some me-time with them and perhaps I can create some memories that they can think back on and relate to. I had no such memories in my life and I didn't have much time with my paw. Although we lived in the same apartment, I only saw him at dinner time. After dinner, hew as preparing at bed for the net workday and the next workday. 

Frances Bryce
Paying Too Much for a Free Service

I paid too much for a free service. The phone, iPad, computer and other modern conveniences that they are now used to provide many services, some that one can truly say allow us convenience, which we enjoy and often save us time. This was not the case for me this morning when I attempted to pay my phone bill using the app supplied to me for doing this task that was supposed to save me time and a one dollar charge if paid on line instead of the store. The appeal was not having to visit a brick and mortar store and of course saving a sum of one dollar was enticing.

I wanted to pay for 3 months and the prompts allowed me to pay for one month, after trying to adjust the payment to 3 months which caused a 31 seconds that I was told would be the wait, lasted 1/2 hours until I finally got a person whose language I could understand, then was told that a $3.25 charge was added, a land protest sent him to his supervisor to undo this error (at least I hope it was corrected). I concluded that a dollar charge in the store seems to me outweigh the free payment play if made online. Time waste was worth more than the online free payment plan.

José Dominiguez
A Little of Wine Helps
When I go to El Paso, Texas, I always stay with one of my oldest brothers, Ramon. He and Bertha are a superb pair of hosts. They treat me as if I were the president of Mexico. The only thing that can be an obstacle with them is that they are 100% Christians and I am 100% nothing. They believe that everything happens according to what their fait says and do a lot of praying for everything.. I respect their way of living and appreciate all the warmth and courtesy I receive from them. But always I have thought that it will come the day wen I will face Ramon and his way of thinking.

This September, I went to El Paso, Texas and among other nice things, he invited me to drink wine, and it was a big bottle, so almost at the end of the bottle we were speaking more vividly and freely. Then I spoke to Ramon saying: "I want to tank you that even when we believe very differently and we have different ways of thinking, you have not tried to convince me, or pressure me in to your religion. And for that, I thank you for the respect you have with me."

There was no answer from Ramon. He only said, taking his glass with wine to his mouth: "I drink to that."

I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

More Than Just Best Day (Rosalyn)

The Best Day of My Life So Far is just one of several of The Philadelphia Senior Center’s programs. And even beyond PSC there’s loads of people starting and running organizations for our older buds. Last Thursday, we had an Amy Haller as a guest, because she was interested in bringing Best Day to the Main Line. She loved hearing everyone else’s stories, and she knew a lot more older buds with stories of their own. I showed her our submission page, so keep an eye out for her submissions soon.

After our session, I caught the tail end of “I Remember When,” a joint production between PSC and the Wilma Theatre. I enjoyed their 2018 show (and Wilma’s dedication to our older buds), so I wanted to see what they did for 2019. What little I caught was incredibly well done, and one older bud in the audience had an interesting story of her own during the talkback. When the show was over, I asked if she wanted to share it with Best Day, and here it is:

Rosalyn McGee
Trying to Be Cute

My sister went to school in the American Institute of Fashion and Design in Lucerne, Switzerland and she brought back colored cigarettes. Black, red, purple, green, any color you could think of. So we were cute with them! We’d bring them with us when we went out. We’d wear red shirts with the red cigarettes, black shirts with black cigarettes, green shirts with green cigarettes, and so on. We never smoked them! We just held them in our hands because they looked good. People would come up to us and ask “Where’d you get those?” They wanted to get some for themselves, but they couldn’t. They were an attention-getter! Aside from that, I never smoked myself, and I never will.

Incidentally...I found a couple different types of colored cigarettes online. I'm putting them in this link and this link because I don't want to advertise them. But feel free to check them out in all their multicolored glory.

I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays. 
 Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Time Crunch (Frances and Loretta)

As a facilitator of The Best Day of My Life (So Far), I always keep my ears open for new stories and older buds to meet. The workshop itself, however, is in a very fixed timeframe. We meet once a week from 1PM to 2PM, with the Constitution Class meeting in the same room at 2:15PM. Our sessions are split halfway with equal time for writing and reading, but many older buds need more time or want to take the time to rewrite their stories without any errors or crossed-out words. Some of the writers bring their stories with them, but many don’t know what they want to write until the day of.

As you can see, time is precious, especially when you want your story to be well-written and to look clean and sharp. Often I’ll have an author ask to take their story home so they can re-write it, but they don’t always bring the stories back. A lot can happen in a week, after all.

It can be difficult, but it’s important for me to not only make the most of the time we have in Best Day, but also to make sure the writers always have that time. Especially during the crazed holiday season.
Frances Bryce 

My goal is to give those things that I no longer need, and that someone else may find useful. 

I am no longer working outside the house, so my wardrobe is still filled with clothes I seldom wear, the closet in my house is filled with career wardrobe now that my life is in another phase. 

Volunteering and doing more things for pleasure which now allows me to wear jeans and casual clothes. 

My first task was cleaning out a closet that contained things that I had not seen since I moved in my home, so it stands to reason I have and had no reason to hang on to these things, once they are in a bag or box, nothing cannot be removed or recovered by me. Progress will be slow.
Loretta Dotson 
Left Behind 

What a blessing to welcome a newborn baby into the world. When a child is received with love and blessings, it’s a loving sign of happy beginnings. We love each other, we care for each other, we protect each other, we anticipate long happy prosperous lives. We age, some gracefully, some not. But still, we anticipate good living. We create bonds with friends, acquaintances and relatives. Life rolls along, then you realize your list of friends, acquaintances, and relatives is getting shorter. You want to talk about a situation that occurred with a family member and oops, you remember they’re gone. Remember the party when the electric went out? How about when the Preacher fell when leaning on the pulpit? Or when the candy store on the corner got robbed? Well how about when you came to church with shoes the same style but different colors, one black, one navy blue? So many incidents, some funny, some sad, and the folks you shared these special moments are all gone. And how you are left behind to sit and enjoy those precious memories. We are making memories for others also and I pray yours will be as pleasant and rewarding and hope mine will be to others. So lets live – pray – love. 
I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Moth vs. Frost (Eleanor, José, Ann)

Hi everyone. Like I said in last week's post, some of the older buds and I went to The Moth this past Monday. Usually, the line goes up two flights of stairs and sometimes extends outside of the building; way before the doors open at 6PM. This time, the line only consisted of five people until about 5:45, and even when the doors opened the initial line-up of people only filled half of the World Cafe. Many people either got delayed or stayed home due to the inclement weather. So that left only the die-hard Moth fans: Ann (and her friend), Eleanor (her husband and their two friends), José, and myself. José, surprisingly, didn't have a story planned for that show's "Family" theme. Then again, family can be a very complicated subject, and the "write as if everyone's dead" adage won't necessarily protect you from living, breathing, angry relatives. Nonetheless, everyone had a good time, and I got to make friends with even more older buds.

Even though the older buds didn't take the stage on Monday, you can still read their stories below:

Eleanor Kazdan
The Goat

Over the years, my husband and I have spent a lot of time sitting in Rittenhouse Square looking at the adorable and iconic statue of a goat. One of the benches right in front of it has a plaque saying, “Eleanor’s Bench,” so even better. This goat attracts children like a magnet. They like to play in the dirt around it, get hoisted up to sit on it, and make new friends on the surrounding benches. Early morning with coffee in hand is a great time to goat and kid watch.
After a few years, we began to think of grandchildren and wonder if we would ever have them. Goat watching took on a new significance. We were elated one day with the news that our daughter was pregnant. Those hopes were dashed with an early miscarriage. Then came a terrible few years with difficulty getting pregnant and 2 more miscarriages. The goat became a place of sadness.
Julia finally did have a baby, and my son and his wife had 2 children. All are boys. It sure was exciting the first time we were the grandparents hoisting our own grandchild up on the goat.
Now they’ve outgrown it.
The goat disappeared for a while for renovation. I guess too many little hands and feet wore it down.
It’s back now and we still sit on Eleanor’s Bench looking at the goat and counting our blessings!
José Dominguez
My Entrance to the Graduate School at The University of Texas

After I had finished my Bachelor’s Degree, I always dreamed to study for a Masters of Psychology, but in those moments being in Mexico, I could not figure how to plan it until a friend of mine was hired at the University of Texas as a Political Science teacher. He helped me take at least 3 courses at the University of Texas without the assistance of a counselor, so I was looking for a plan.
My last course put me in touch with the education department and I was uncovered from my incognito and low profile studies by a very strict graduate professor, Dr. Bonnie Brook. She called me and told me that I needed four conditions to continue at the University. First, to take the standardized test, secondly, to find a way to support myself as a full-time student in the USA, thirdly, to take an advanced writing course and finally, to be accepted by the graduate school as a formal student of a master’s degree.
In this [story], I will describe something about my advanced English course. My professor was Dr. Johnson, a super-intelligent, sardonic and ironic guy. His superb control of the English language made him a treat for all of us whose English level was not acceptable. At the end of the course, Dr. Bonnie Brooks called him to ask about my performance as a student. For me, that information was critical since I was under conditions (or under parole). But if Mr. Johnson reported something negative about my grades, I [would] have to struggle to find another way to study my masters. So Dr. Johnson answered to Bonnie Brooks: Jose’s performance in my course? Well, he is ok for being “a turkey.” And that was it. I was accepted. I don’t know if it was an insult to my intelligence but I was accepted as a full-time student at the Graduate School. About being or not being called a turkey, I believe it is a matter of circumstances, opinion, and luck perhaps in a turkey but I don’t mind.
Ann Von Dehsen
Island Wisdom
On my trip to St. Maarten last month, my friend and I visited an elementary school in one of the small villages. It had sustained damaged during Hurricane Maria and had only reopened in February, a year and a half later. To celebrate the reopening, parents had designed and painted a 4-panel mural depicting various families. The principal allowed us to visit a 3rd-grade classroom of 25 kids. Right away, we were impressed by the brightly decorated room as well as the brightly-dressed, attentive students wearing the school’s uniform of bright yellow button-down shirts and plaid shorts or skirts. The teachers told them we were from Philadelphia and immediately one little boy politely raised his hand and asked, “Do you like the Eagles?” (Yes). Then another asked, “Did you go to the Super Bowl?” We said no, but we went to the parade which seemed to equally impress them.
The primary language spoken at the school is English, but students also learn Dutch and French, the two native languages of the split island. As we walked around the room, they were proud to show us their written work, some of which was written in all 3 languages. It was their recess, but some chose to stay in and talk to us informally. One boy proudly said, “I’ve been to Philadelphia!” So I asked what he remembered to which he replied, “Not much, I was only a month old, but I have a sweatshirt with a broken bell on it.” Then a very quiet little girl came up to me and softly asked, “Have you met the Trump?” I said “No,” then paused and said, “I don’t really want to meet him.” To which she wisely replied, “Good, he is a very mean man who does not care about people!” So much for diplomacy… I met a 10-year-old girl on a distant, small island who speaks the truth about the Trump.
I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri