Thursday, October 17, 2019

Red Day (Philip, José and Carolyn)

A funny thing happened at Best Day last week. I came in to the workshop at around 1PM wearing a burgundy shirt with stripes. I thought nothing of it, until I saw Frances, José, Delores, and Eleanor...all wearing red shirts. Even Hazel was wearing pink, which is really just light red. And the funniest thing is that I met with one of our former volunteers Kara for coffee that morning...and what was she wearing but a red hoodie! So I guess with the change in seasons came the changing colors...right in our workshop.

We're looking to decorate our Tenth Anniversary Celebration with lots of stories form lots of older buds! Send us their stories through this form. And if you want to do more to end senior isolation, click here to participate in our celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn.

And now I leave you with a leaf pile of stories to jump into and enjoy with a pumpkin-spiced treat of your choice:

Philip Pai
My Home Library

When I was young, I didn’t have books to read since my family was too poor, but I liked to study and I liked the books so much. Sometimes, I borrowed the books from the library that was nearby my house.
I remembered once I walked on the street, I saw a used book store on the corner. There was a lot of used books for sale and since the price was low, I was so glad that I found a place that I could buy cheap books so every day I got used books from the book store. When I found the used books that I liked, I would take it to my home and put it on the shelf. Doesn’t matter what kind of job I got. Anyways, I would buy the used books from the store. Right now, I have a small … library at my apartment. So if I have time, I did and go outside to borrow books from the library, I just stayed at home to enjoy my used books or review it there, for I am really liking my small library very much.

José Dominguez
Some of My Reading Frustrations

I have read some books in my life, many of them formative, amusing, enlightening, and practicable, but there were some impossible to understand by me. Even when I have read them several times or many times.
One of those was Derecho Administrativo (Administrative Law). It was the textbook for the course with the same name. My failure to understand marked my decision to only be a regular law student with [no other] purpose but [to] get rid of the pressure of grades. At the beginning, as a good nerd, I was looking for grades. After that book, I decided to be a regular, standard, normal student.
My second book problem was advanced statistics. When studying for a pad in education, I discovered that even when I was [an] analytical person, I was allergic to mathematics, probability, and all that paraphernalia. So I decided to be a humanist with superficial knowledge of statistics.
My third complication to understand a book was several weeks ago when being a participant of a reading group at a meditation center. I decided to read a book on Tibetan Buddhism. It was impossible for me. My study skills were insufficient, my logic system a failure, and my memory, as always, absent. So, I decided not to torture myself and left the reading group. Now I can use my neurons in things that I really like without damaging my self-esteem.

Carolyn Boston
Bucket List
Do you have a bucket list? What does it say? As we mature in life, we reflect on some of the things we never got to do during life’s journey. Some people decide they’d like to travel to foreign lands, others want to bungee jump out of a plane, but regardless of the desire, the idea is challenging.
I’ve seen the movie, Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and another actor whose name I can’t retrieve from my mind right now. The movie was hilarious and inspiring. Some people might say, “Why would you want to do that?” My goodness, why not? While we’re still living and fairly capable of moving around, we should set a goal that inspires and provides a sense of accomplishment and gives us something to look forward to. Plan it. Do it. And see how you feel. No matter how small the adventure or how big, make it something you’ll never forget. You can make your bucket list as small as a bucket or as big as a swimming pool. Along the way of fulfilling your bucket list adventure, you’ll find a greater and wiser and better you. You’ll learn more about yourself as well as others. The sky’s the limit and as Captain Kirk used to say on “Star Trek” – “Make it so!”
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Differing Opinions (Joyce and Eleanor)

Medicine is a reality of a lot of our lives. Some people only worry about it when they get a cold or a flu, but many of us take medicines much more regularly. Whether it’s for blood pressure, diabetes, chronic pain, moods, focusing, memory, supplements, digestion, or even allergies, a lot of us take something on a regular basis. Many of our older buds are taking medicine, or have had to take it, so they have some very strong opinions about Big Pharma and how they charge too much; except for Eleanor. She supports the prices because the extra money goes into research and development. She’s also married to someone who works in pharmaceuticals, so she has an insider’s perspective. And the company her husband works for isn’t GlaxoSmithKline, and I don’t think it’s one of the other major companies. Either way, it’s always interesting to see where the Best Day peeps fall on issues like these.

Sometimes, the best medicine is having people in your life who will talk to you. Write up a prescription for the older buds in your life, and send us their stories through this form. And if you want to do more to end senior isolation, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn.
So take two of these stories and call me in the morning:
Joyce Woods
06.13. 2019
The Day Daddy Left Us

In the year 1956, I was upstairs in my parents’ bedroom watching my Daddy, he was released from the hospital after a very long stay. He was suffering from lung cancer and it was fatal.
My mother was in the basement doing laundry.
My father had been in a coma for seven days at this point, the exact [amount] of time the doctors sort of timed this horrible news.
I would stay so close to my father. We were very close. I thought if I prayed hard enough, God would come up with a cure and Daddy would be well again and everything would be just as our happy life once was.
I would stare at him, watching every breath. Suddenly, he opened his eyes looking directly at me. I was elated, I was afraid to leave the room to yell for Mommy due to this might change his breathing. [His breathing] began to change. I noticed a different pattern in it, then another change, it became very hard to detect. I called out to him shaking him, “Daddy, Daddy, look at me.” He took a deep breath then very shallow ones.
I ran downstairs and looked in the drawer of the China closet in the dining room to get the hand mirror. I ran quickly back upstairs to place the mirror in front of his mouth, but to my dismay, there were no signs of steam from his breath.
No one had to say a word. I was heartbroken.

Eleanor Kazdan
Finding a Husband for Coco

Coco and I became best friends at summer camp when we were 15. We stayed close for many changes including marriages and children, and moving to a new city. We eventually drifted apart in our 40’s and had no contact for more than 10 years. I never stopped thinking of Coco though.
One day my father sent me a newspaper article about Coco’s parents with a picture of her whole family. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and decided to call Coco. She still had the same phone number in Toronto. I found out that she was divorced. In no time at all, we became besties again.
On my first day of a new job at a local hospital, while chatting with my supervisor, she stunned me by asking if I knew anyone she could “fix up” with a colleague and mentor of her husband. I suggested a few single friends in Philly, including my yoga teacher. She nixed them all. Over the next week, I thought of Coco. It seemed crazy, since I was in Philadelphia and she in Toronto, but I thought it might be fun to “double date” sometime when Coco was visiting. So Coco and Doug contacted each other by e-mail.
That whole summer, Coco was like a teenager, constantly calling me for advice. “What do you think this e-mail means? What should I write back?” Well, not only did they eventually fall in love, but they discovered that Doug had lived in Toronto in the 70’s and they had worked at the same hospital. And the most astounding thing was that their fathers had been colleagues in the ’40s and ’50s.
So, it was meant to be! A chance meeting (a great love story) culminated in a marriage. And it’s now been more than 10 years.

Thanks for reading. Stay happy and healthy.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, October 3, 2019

In the Spotlight (Norman)

Our 10th Anniversary Celebration is only one month away, and we’re trying to get as many guests, businesses, volunteers and older buds involved as possible. We’ve started passing out fliers at PSC last week to find older buds interested in volunteering at our story tables. That’s right! Anyone who comes to The Best Day of My Life So Far’s 10th Anniversary event (10AM-4PM at the Philadelphia Senior Center, 509 South Street in Philadelphia) gets the chance to hear some brand new stories from one of the stars of our blog. In fact, you can check out a few of them from our current group of writers here:

But I wouldn’t cheat you out of a new story. Here’s one from older bud Norman about migration, just in time for the birds to go south for the winter.

Norman Cain 
There is No Place Like Home
There are animal species who migrate and return to their points of departure yearly, among them, flocks of birds who migrate to warmer climates in the fall and return to their points of departure in the spring. Then there are some animal species that migrate to other areas – maybe because of food – and do not return to their initial areas of departure.
As for myself, I feel that I had time in my life, I could have embraced the two aforementioned migrating patterns; dual and singular. Duals being returning to point A+B during a regular basis and singular meaning to migrate and never returning to your initial point of departure. During my youth and teenage years, I would on an annual basis, leave Philadelphia each summer for South Carolina where I was parented by my maternal grandparents.
Between ages 17-18 and 19, I would migrate to a camp in the Poconos Mountains during the summer and College in West Virginia during the Academic years; only to return to Philadelphia upon graduating in 1964.
After Danny discharged from the Army during the summer of 1965, I resided in Philadelphia. 10 years before migrating between Atlanta, Georgia, and Philadelphia for 3 years – with one-year permanent residence in Atlanta. I was then stationary in Philadelphia for 10 years before living in Ocean City, Maryland for 17 years – until returned.
I have been living in Philly for 17 years. And plan to remain here. So, I have embraced both the singular and dual migrating patterns throughout my life. But of course, I take pro-life trips.
I will close by saying that I never intended to make Philadelphia my permanent residence but as the adage states, “There is no place like home sweet home.”
We’re trying to get as many older buds’ stories as possible before our 10th Anniversary Celebration. Send us their stories through this form. And if you want to do more to end senior isolation, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn.
Unfortunately, no Senior Selfies this week. Some of the older buds were singing in Gospel Choir last week, so we went to see their concert. That’s the other reason I called this post “In the Spotlight.” So I leave you with these pictures from the concert.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Power to the People (Carolyn, Frances, and Ann)

Last Thursday was the first day the Philadelphia Dramatists Center's Constitution Class came back since its summer break. Last Tuesday was National Voter Registration day, an important holiday with the municipal elections coming up in November. While we won’t be voting for Presidential candidates until 2020, we will be voting on State Representatives, state courts, city council members, Philadelphia’s mayor, and Pennsylvania legislature. Older buds Frances and Delores are very involved in Philadelphia politics, older buds Norman and Mike served in the armed forces, older buds José, Philip and Eleanor immigrated to the United States,  older bud Ann’s childhood home was sold to the parents of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and older buds Elliott, Loretta and Joe have extra accommodations due to disabilities. We all have a stake in the upcoming elections, so it’s important to make sure you’re registered to vote. In Pennsylvania it’s especially important to register for a political party or you can’t vote in primary elections. If you haven't already registered, you can do so here.

You loyal readers already know Best Day's all about amplifying the voices of the unheard, so here's a few stories from our older buds. And when you're done, share the link with some friend:

Carolyn Boston
March 21, 2019
The Kindness and Goodness of Human Beings

I used to complain continuously to God about having to use my cane and the struggle I had when I had to take a bus or any other form of local transportation. Crossing a city street (Market Street, for example) was fearful for me and I dreaded having to cross it. Then, I experienced such kindness from people all ages, all ethnicities, that fear left. There has never been a time when I needed help getting off the bus, crossing streets, or going up and down steps, or dropping my cane or opening doors that someone would [not] help me. There were people who would stand in the middle of Market Street and stop traffic until I crossed to the curb. Handsome men, SEPTA drivers, merciful women, teenagers, diverse human beings with big hearts filled with compassion.
I’ve met so many kind and helpful people that I am in awe as everything I’ve experienced -it’s mind-boggling! When someone says people are “mean” these days, I disagree wholeheartedly. Goodness and kindness reign supreme.

Frances Bryce
Not to Worry

My life has been filled with many events that have opened my eyes to see what I never imagined as a problem.
There are people who are very concerned about what others think about them, and how that affects them in their daily lives.
Example: On an occasion when we were standing in a room, where other people were gathered, we were talking and laughing about something of no consequence. She stated, “They are probably wondering what we are laughing about.” Although, they, the other people were engaged with peers. I replied that they are jealous, that they are not having a good time as we are having.
Example 2: We were together and the room was cool to her. She had a sweater, but when I asked why she did not put it on, she said, “No one else is wearing a sweater.” I reminded her that perhaps they were not cold and that it was better to rely on her own body temperature rather than others. That other people probably did not use their time wondering about things and events that concerned others.
I hope she will not continue to worry or be too concerned about the thoughts someone may be thinking. I am aware that it takes a long time to rethink what has become a part of one’s life that does not serve them well.
I never asked her how much time she spent thinking and worrying about others because from previous conversations, [I bet it would be] more time than I wanted her to tell me.
Ann Von Dehsen
Herman the Doorman

When my parents became empty-nesters, they happily moved into a high-rise apartment in Hackensack, N.J. where they were suddenly free of house repairs and yard work.
The apartment building had a wonderful doorman named Herman. Herman was in his sixties and spoke with a heavy Polish accent. Regardless of the weather, he was there every day with a smile on his face. He knew the names of every inhabitant of the 100-unit building including children, babies, and pets. On holidays, Herman took great delight in decorating the floor plants and lobby with white lights. He also wore a flower in his lapel and corresponding holidays hats. A jar of lollipops for the humans and a jar of milk bones for dogs was a permanent fixture on his desk. I was in college at the time and only saw him on school vacations and long weekends. He always welcomed me with open arms and wanted to hear all about college life in Boston.
During one of our conversations, he happened to list his arm as he was speaking and I was stunned to see tattooed numbers on his inside wrist. I knew this was the hideous ID mark of a concentration camp survivor. He quickly pulled his shirt sleeve down and went on with our conversation.
Later, I told my mother what I had seen and asked her if she knew more about it. She confirmed that he was indeed a Holocaust survivor and lost his wife and children in the camps. When she asked how he was able to go with his life in such a positive way, he said that he now considered himself lucky and thought of the apartment building as his home and the people in it as his family.
He believed that part of his job was spread kindness in an effort to combat the hate he had withstood first hand. Lately, I’ve thought of Herman a lot as I visualize him humming and dancing down the hallways. He still makes me smile and gives me a reason for hope.

Everyone's voice deserves to be heard. Use your time to talk to the older buds in your life. Send us their stories through this form. And if you want to do more to end senior isolation, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn. Later, gators.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Prep Work (Mo and Joan)

The point of Best Day is to give older buds an opportunity to write and share their life experiences without judgement. We always have lots of pens, pencils and notebooks on hand because we don’t know how many opportunities our buds have to write in their own lives. We encourage everyone to keep their stories short enough to finish in three to five minutes, but we’ll go over the ending time if it means everyone gets a chance to read their stories. Our copywriters’ policy is “never edit the stories,” or the readers won’t be able to hear the older buds’ voices. In short, Best Day is set up with the assumption that this is the one time of the week our older buds have to write. 

Our older buds do not have that same assumption. Some of them will take notebooks home with them because they’re not done writing their story yet. Some of them will rewrite the whole story from scratch because they made too many “mistakes” in the first draft. Some of them come to Best Day planning on writing their autobiography. Some of them bring in a story already finished, eager for feedback, critique, and grammatical advice. One older bud, Philip, refused to come to Best Day the past few weeks until his story was finished. Interestingly enough, once he brought his finished story to the workshop, he had enough time to complete a second story as well. Hopefully, this means we’ll be seeing him on a weekly basis; finished stories or no.

Missouri Grier
Love of Horses

Every day the Bond Bread Wagon would come to my block to deliver bread to the neighbors. I would get on the wagon and take a ride with the horse. The horse would always stop at my door and I would climb in the seat and he and I would go around the block. The man said to my mother, “I can’t understand why my horse likes your little girl, Mrs. Grier, but he brings me here and stops every day.” They just laughed off. I still love horses.

Johnstown, PA
Joan Bunting

Last Thursday, August the 8th, my daughter drove her youngest daughter Raven, Raven’s friend, two of her granddaughters, and myself to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. We traveled there to celebrate her daughter’s, Tauheedah, birthday on the 9th. It was a long ride, but I like riding. I love and enjoy the scenery.
We stayed at a place that Rose had arranged on her phone. I don’t know this cellphone language, but she rented a place for us to stay for the weekend. It had four bedrooms, a kitchen, toilets, one upstairs with a bathtub and shower and one downstairs in what looked like a storage place. Everything was beautiful.
We stopped at Tauheedah’s letting her know that we had arrived. The next day we went to a place called Idle-wild. There was games to be played, rides to ride on, but the biggest attraction was the different water. There were different water attractions. It took me about a half-hour to decide even to put my feet in. The water was so cold. I finally sat down. Every now and then a wave would come and I would let out a loud “Ooh.”
The next day, we went to my favorite attraction. It’s called, “The Johnstown Inclined Plane.” People get on this wooden platform. After you pay for your ticket, (As a senior citizen I got on free) and after everyone boards, we start moving upward. Of course, we were surrounded by a gate. We’re so high the cars look like toy cars. I don’t know how high it goes, but the view is so beautiful.
After you reach the top, you get off and you’re in a park with swings and things. Walking out of the park there’s a beautiful neighborhood. There is also a little shop where you can purchase safe keeps, ice cream, slurpies and lots of other things.
I enjoyed our visit to Johnstown and visiting with my granddaughter and her four children, and looking forward to visiting Johnstown, PA again.

Use your time to talk to the older buds in your life. Send us their stories through this form. And if you want to do more to end senior isolation, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, September 12, 2019

In Memory of Loretta

Last week, I'd heard that our older bud Loretta Dotson passed away in August. She had been in the hospital for a while last year, but she'd recovered well and was ready to come to Best Day again. Loretta stopped by last January and February, but she stopped calling for a while. I called her back last May and she confirmed that not only would she be coming back to Best Day, she'd bring older bud Joe to visit too. It hit hard when I heard she'd died.

Loretta was incredibly artistic. On two separate occasions, she gave me a hand-crocheted cross, and I saw her crocheting and knitting skirts for Barbie dolls too. When I complimented her on the skirts, she asked me what my favorite color was and when my birthday was, and promised to make one for me as birthday present. It wasn't too long after that that she got her aneurysm and had to go to the hospital. I also remember trying to figure out how to send her the "get well soon" videos I had made for her, since they were too big to send by email. When she'd recovered well enough to answer the phone, Id call her every week to see if she got the videos through the next method I used to send them to her...and the next, and the next. When she was healthy enough to come back in, we both tackled the elephant in the room...the whiteboard listing Best Day's facilitator as Benita instead of Caitlin!

  Loretta's been a huge part of Best Day, and she's seen no less than seven different facilitators when writing with us. You can read some of her stories in our previous posts here:

Have a Nice Day
Stories of Love and Laughter
The Seniors Are Coming
Keep Smiling, Stay Happy
We Are Family
A Sort of Summer Vacation
Independence Day
Young Buds
A Fully Loaded Story Goodie Bag
Mother's Day
Happy Halloween
Are You Benita?

Life is short, so make time to talk to your older buds. Send us their stories through this form. And if you want to do more to end senior isolation, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn. 

And before I go, I wanted to leave you with a few more of Loretta D's stories, never before posted on this blog:

Loretta Dotson 
Senior Centers 
It’s a blessing to have places to visit and congregate with your peers. We really have wonderful conversations. There are so many activities for us. This gives us some place to look forward to attending. The connections with each other brings back fond memories of family, school neighbors, friends. Even when we attended church services, all day with picnic baskets of food. We were all gussied up, sharing this with fellow seniors is so touching. The crafts are simple but memorable. Exercises keep us moving. There’s dance classes, card games, Bible study, health checks, even a barber comes in. The nutritionist helps us make better choices with meals. The social workers give us good advice when needed. There’s a choir, the blended voices are so sweet. The group that puts on excellent plays is the Drama class. Everyone works so hard to do their best and it is appreciated. They also show movies. This is so much better than sitting at home wasting away, getting out doing what we can to keep active and healthy. We also go on trips.

Loretta Dotson 
The Media
We all obtain our news from various sources, some from newspapers, some from the radio, some TV, some cell phones, some by word of mouth. In order to survive comfortably, it is important to stay in the know. The same goes for the weather forecast. It is important to be able to discuss current events and occasionally voice your opinion. This helps us stay sharp and on the ball. It’s really amazing how some folks will say I don’t listen to the news, I don’t care what’s going on. My opinion of this “foolishness” we should all care whether the news affects us directly or not. We might learn of something that we can pass on to help or assist another. The same goes for the weather – coat or jacket, sweater or bikini top “smile” just kidding.

Loretta Dotson 

Araminta Harriet Ross AKA Harriet Tubman. So much history, so much pride. So much bloodshed. I am so very, very grateful for the effort of so many. Just to mention a little about Harriet Tubman, (she took her mother’s name). There were no tracks on the Underground Railroad, neither did anyone hide or travel underground. This was simply a loose network of free blacks and whites in the North who helped slaves find freedom in the Northern United States and Canada. Free black communities, especially the churches, were active in helping to free slaves. 
Harriet was not satisfied with her own escape to freedom; she made 19 return trips to the South. She would drug the babies to keep them from crying – probably sugar tit dipped in homebrew or rubbed their gums in corn liquor. 
She once told Frederick Douglas, “On my underground railroad, I never seen my train off the track and I never lose a passenger.” 
Some called her a Black Moses. Some said her strength came from her faith in God. There was a $40,000 reward for her capture. She was never apprehended. 
There was much singing amidst the suffering. The spirituals kept them going. Can’t you just hear “Swing low, sweet chariot coming for to carry me home” or I’m going home on the morning train, evening train would be too late I’m going home on the morning train” amongst many more. Harriet Tubman made her rescue attempts in the wintertime. If someone wanted to leave and return to “the master” she would hold a revolver to his head and ask him to reconsider.  
Well, she never had to shoot anyone. During the Civil War Harriet Tubman was a scout for the Union Armies. She got info from slaves, nurtured wounded soldiers, prayed and sang spirituals. Harriet helped hem our Mother and Father’s escape. She delivered them from slavery to freedom.  
She spent her later years in Auburn, N.Y. Harriet died of pneumonia, financially poor on March 10, 1913. She had lived life rich in faith and good works. 

Harriet Tubman 
1821 – 1913

Loretta Dotson
Some of My Warm Weather Activities

The warm weather has been overdue, we have hit 90 degrees.
Mother's Day I filled in on my Church Chor, Mr. Hebron. I was very nervous. I made it through, by reading lips and following the choir director. It was fun.
Last Wednesday Starr Harbor had a fashion show and I was one of the models. What a fun day.
On June 5th I will be on a mock jury given by Drexel University. It is lots of fun and very interesting. This will be the second time I volunteered. Also in the month of June I will be in a play held here at this Center in the auditorium the exact date I don't know.
I love this Center, I enjoy the people and the programs that are offered.
I hope to buy another book on storytelling, this one will be for me. I gave away the two copies I bought during the sale.

Loretta Dotson 
Golden Girls and Silver Males 

We are getting older, yes living longer and doing well thanks in part to our country clubs, A.K.A senior centers. The senior centers are comforting places for learning, relaxation, communication and education. At PSC, there is so much to do we never become bored or stagnant. We love sharing our childhood experiences. We have so much untapped knowledge about so many things it's a joy to share some questions I've been asked. What's an ice box? Why did you burn wood in the stove? When did you get coal for your house heater? Why didn't you have a gas heater? So many questions, so much fun to answer them. Some younger people are amazed at our former adventurous lives. We seniors are appreciative of and for all services available to aid us in living the good life. It is indeed a pleasure to have recognition and appreciation from others showing they care and are supportive in and of our well being. For the first time in US history, the number of people over 60 exceed those under 15 years old, a quote from Laura Carstens. Time Magazine states everyone wants to live longer and science is starting to make this happen. But living better will be the real challenge and opportunity.

Thanks for reading, and have a good day.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri