Thursday, September 14, 2017

Share This With the World (Dolores)

September 11th rolled around a few days ago. It was one of those days that changed the course of American history. I don't just say that because of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers and the war that followed. I say that because of the immediate increases in airport security measures, the swelling Islamophobia, and all the people who lost friends and loved ones and are still recovering from that. We stopped taking our safety for granted: both terrorists and our own government could sneak in and destroy our lives. Sixteen years hasn't eased our fears; only gave us more reasons to be afraid.


I want Best Day to be a safe space, so I encourage our older buds to write about anything that's on their mind; especially the scary stuff. I want them to know that we are here, we are listening, and we want to help. So I want you, dear reader, to do something for me. If you found this on my Twitter or Facebook, please share this with one other friend in your network. If you went straight to our website, go to your social networking and share this link. I want the whole world to read these stories, but more importantly I want the world to say "These stories deserve to be read."
Dolores Wilson
07.22.2017
Unseen Heroes

After watching the documentary "City of Ghosts" I reflected on the freedom of speech that we have in America. When Isis invaded Aleppo, Syria, and took over they killed anyone that was a threat to them. The journalist of that century was forced to leave and go into hiding. They left their friends that would keep them informed from the inside of the country. They provided them with films and pictures. The members of their family were persecuted and killed. In the film they show the journalists grieving for their loved ones. They felt compelled to continue to get the truth out there.
Now let not the people of America allow the power to be kill our freedom of speech here in America.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Open Hearts (Liz)

A few weeks ago, Liz had read a story about her time working at a children's hospital. She had mentioned that some of the children were some of the very first patients to receive open-heart surgery before it became a mainstream medical practice. I remembered learning in school during Black History Month about Daniel Hale Williams and how he was one of the first to perform a successful open-heart surgery. I've always been grateful to him because his work added nine years to my Gigi's (grandmother) life. This story's a bit sad, especially if you've had kids who had to be hospitalized, but we don't shy away from the heavy stuff at Best Day. Sometimes the best day of your life is when you can talk about one of the worst days of your life.

Liz Abrams
08.24.17
My First Job
After high school graduation - A Children's Hospital hired me as a ward clerk in 1959. Never had experience with small children, not even as a babysitter.
The hospital, small, halls dark, even during the day beds filled with children in critical + alarming situations.
My first shocking encounter with a boy of 5, walking the halls with a swagger in a bathrobe, loosely knotted, a mustache and a deep voice, coughing with a smoker's cough and approaching me for a cigar. Another beautiful little boy of 3 crying in his crib, crying for food, I couldn't help but go to him, and pick him up in my arms, rang for the nurse and ask her to feed him. She snapped at me and said - He had his meal.
Later, that evening, the child still crying for food, I went into the utility room + prepared cookies and P-nut butter. He inhaled, the food. The child's stomach was distended but his body was extremely thin, giving the experience of starvation - his brain never told him he had enough to eat, therefore he was always hungry.
On the ICU floor, there were child patients, with burned out stomachs from - drinking cleaning fluids, child physically abused.
Some patients appearing to be OK, they looked OK, but had bad severe heart problems.
Oh yes, I became very attached to the children - True I would depart, leaving my shift, returning the next day. Some had departed, learning that "open heart surgery," brand new procedure, that in 1959 had not been perfected. These angels who perished open the door to the saving of lives of future heart patients who survived.
My experience with the unsung heroes of the open heart surgery, perfected in 1965 with minimal fatalities.



Shortly after she finished reading this story, Liz had made sure to clarify that there children were not guinea pigs in medical experiments. These were kids and parents who had run out of other options and met doctors who would try anything to save a life. I'm grateful that these children were willing to give this new procedure a try, and their doctors cared enough about their patients to pay attention to what went wrong and turn open-heart surgery into the life-saver it is today.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Senior Selfies (Eugene)

It's been tradition for us at Best Day to take a senior selfie during every class. I love how casual and fun selfies are, and I love getting a picture of everyone's smiling faces without having to grab someone from another room or office to take our picture. It's been six months since I've started managing this blog, and the selfie's become more or less my trademark.

I went up to York a few days ago for their Yorkfest Fine Arts Festival, and I saw a man named William Lewis exhibiting his illustrations. One of them was of two seniors taking their first selfie together.


I couldn't resist.
Eugene Charrington
8.10.2017
Will I spend my last days in Philadelphia?

It was the very end of 2016 when I left Brooklyn, New York for Philadelphia. I moved into a rooming-house on Pine Street, just of 52nd Street. My new neighborhood was unbelievably peaceful and convenient, the bust stop was at the corner and the subway or elevated line also nearby. The stores were around the corner on 52nd Street so my new residence was just about everything that my previous neighborhood in Brooklyn did.
At age 67, I must admit New York’s allure doesn’t appeal to me anymore: rude, cold people, high rents, gentrification, and police racial profiling. Make me view my birthplace as very undesirable. Philadelphia, on the other hand is affordable, the people are warmer and life is slower, not such a rat race like up there in that city.
Most likely I will spend the rest of my life here in Philadelphia. It’s a much nicer place.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Many Happy Returns (Joan and Michael)

Like I've said many times before, we often have older buds disappearing from the group for one reason or another. Some leave due to scheduling conflicts, like Mike when he started taking the papier-mâché class. Some leave due to medical problems, like Joan. Even Kara, a volunteer who wrote one of our stories, had to take a break from Best Day due to meetings and appointments she couldn't reschedule.

But last week, they all came back! Joan's recovered and is planning on writing for us more regularly. Mike's class was cancelled this week, so our workshop was the first place we thought to go. And Kara came in to yet another class brimming with older buds. Every time she comes in, the class fills up. She's like a good luck charm!
So without further ado, here's some new stories from our old buds.

Joan Bunting 
6.1.1993 
What Do Others Say of Me? 

What do others say of me? 
How do I ack, what do they see? 
Do they see my shining light aglow? 
Or do they see fashion (or) show? 
Do they hear me spend in tones of love? 
Can they tell I know Jesus from above? 
How do I walk, what strides do I take? 
Are my legs strong, unholting walking the road that’s called straight? 
How do they see me? Soft spoken and humble? 
Or do I project to others as a mumbler? 
What do others say of me? 
"She’s just as hypocritical as can be."
Or do they say, "She’s a faithful soul, to Jesus her Savior, who has made her whole."
How do they feel when I enter a room? 
Am I greeted with smiles or faces of gloom? 
With noses turned up or with snobbish tones, 
What is being whispered about Sister Joan?

Michael Tsuei
5.25.2017
After All

My best friend, her parents, recently passed away, both descended at twenty minutes from each other. They are both in the late eighties, both healthy and happy couple, always together, never far at parts to each other, dearly in love, every time. We had a family get together for the holidays with good friends. 
They were always holding hands, taking care of each other dearly. When the wife was feeling ill, stayed in the hospital, the husband stayed with her day and night. Then suddenly the wife’s condition get worsen, pass away while in their sleep. The husband’s heart broken, everyone felt his pain. At that night, he came home from the hospital, before that, he said goodbye to his children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, the next morning at his bed, the daughter found out he also passed away, never woke up.
I still remember these two so in love, around themselves or in the public. So the even grandchildren, sometimes get embraced said (OMG, old peopled do that, gross us out).
But the daughters grow up with their parents once made it common, have a different explanation (don’t forget everyone one's young once and crazy in love with someone or two…) 
In our Eastern tradition, most of us never very open to expressing the personal feelings in public or around friends. We’ve been told “You needs acting according to your age.  
So lots relatives talk about their behavior, may made bad example and erupt the young people.  
Now they are all gone, children start to miss their company so much, so deeply.
Just not too long ago the famous movie star Debbie Reynolds and her younger daughter (Princess Leia) both passed away in two days, then are no questions in my mind, when someone so in love with each other, may be that just want to go with it and never wanting to waken up!


Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our Published Authors (Norman, Eugene, and Frances)

It's no surprise that our authors are getting published. Many of you already know about our book The Best Day of My Life So Far, featuring the stories our older buds wrote during the first five years of our workshop. However, some of our seniors have been published in other literary magazines, and some have their own books. Norman Cain has had his works published in the Drexel Writers Room Anthology 2 collection and is working on a new publication, and Eugene Carrington has already published his short collection of stories and poems Messenger Blues, among other things. Here's some content form the both of them, available exclusively at Best Day.

Norman Cain
7.27.2017
Father: The Railroad Man

My father, an amiable, quiet, lean, tall, bald, well-proportioned, copper-skinned man, was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was a quiet man He rarely spoke. We communicated through physical activities. He took me to see the Brooklyn Dodgers where I was amazed by the athleticism of Jackie Robinson. One of the most memorable times that I spent with him was catching a baseball in an empty lot. We would spend hours  wallpapering, painting, and laying linoleum on the floor of the kitchen. When I was around five years old, he told me that I was a Highland Geehiee. Years later, I learned that the term Geehiee was derived from slave that inhabited the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia (around the Ogeechee River) who maintained many of African cultural traits, as they did not come to the main land for more than a hundred years. Those who were not from the low lands were known as Fresh Water Geehiees or High land Geehiees. He rarely took off from work; however, then a relative or friend or someone from his South Carolina township died, he took the train wherever the further was, up and down the East Coast.

He took advantage of his entitlement to free train tickets to various locations on the eastern seaboard. My family periodically visited relatives in Washington, New York, and Baltimore during the weekends. I was no stranger to the rails, I became accustomed to traveling on trains, recognizing landmarks in my travels during these journeys. During these junkets, he would be well-dressed: two-toned shoes, tailored suit, blocked hat. However, during the week, he was attired in the uniform required for a janitor at the 30th Street Station.

There are many mores stories that I can tell about my father, who was, in my opinion, a man amongst men. Those stories will follow. 





Eugene Charrington
7.27.2017
Global Warming

Is it real or is it a hoax? Many conservative business people and politicians including President Trump feel that global warming is a joke. However, most of the world, top scientists, have stated otherwise. Every year the temperature of the atmosphere reaches a record high. And sea levels have been risking. For example, coastal areas in the southeastern United States have experienced the decline of beach fronts and severe flooding during storms. Caribbean islands have also suffered from torrential rains, flooding, and the encroachment of rising water levels along their costs. Storm winds at times have reached nearly 200 mph. Hurricanes have been arriving with more frequency, generally leaving a trail of death and destruction when they touch down.

Those who want to deny this change, global warming, or climate change, really need to wake up. Especially President Trump, before we all find ourselves under water, and human life on our planet is no more. 

Also, one of our newest members, Ms. M said she was going to have her letter to Dr. Martin Luther King published as well. Her publisher said her story wasn't to be "edited, distributed, or forwarded," so I will refrain from posting it until after its publication. Instead, I will be posting a story by Frances, the woman good enough to introduce Ms. M to Best Day.





Frances Bryce
7.27.2017
Face the Mirror

I looked in the mirror,
Behold, I did see
A much older person
Staring back at me.

Who I standing in my space
Blocking my best view?
I wish she would move
Then, I too could see.

Someone with lots of wrinkles
Entered through the door
Face so familiar
My best dress, she wore.

I faced the mirror again
Cautious as could be
It’s useless to deny
The person staring back at me.

Days flew and the months rush by
The years take their toll
Beauty lives inside
Whether you are young or old. 



Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lots-O-Laughs (Elliot)

The First Thursday sessions in the computer lab are always a change from the norm, but last week's session was especially funny. A few new buds joined us today, and one of them, Bettie, read a ghost story she had written. It was about a classroom with a haunted clock whose hands would move in places that never matched the time. As soon as she finished, Frances started reading her story...and the door swung open all by itself. And a few minutes later, it opened by itself again. "It's the ghost!" I said.





Second, I have a practice of making sure every guest and regular gets the chance to read, even during First Thursday. When I asked Ms. M, who Frances had brought to the class, this interaction happened:

Caitlin: Any friends of yours whose stories you want to read?
Ms. M.: No.
Caitlin: Not even Francis?
Miss M.: No.
(Everyone laughs)
Ms. M.: We're classmates from way back. I've heard all her stories already!
Francis: Just for that, now you have to hear me read you something you've already heard!
Ms. M.: Oh, I have a poem to read!
(Begins scrolling through her phone trying to find the story.)
Francis: Shall I read something while you find it?
Ms. M.: YES! Please DO!




And I figured I'd cap off this entry with Elliot's final story about the characters from his neighborhood. This one's a little more sad than his last two, but we've never shied away from sad stories at Best Day.

Elliot Doomes
07.27.17
Unforgettable Characters Pt. 3

There was an elderly gentleman who lived two door down from me. Every morning when I was on the way to work he would be standing on his porch and he would shout to me, "Top of the mornin; to you, me boy, and the rest of the day to meself." I would laugh every time he said that and I still laugh today when I think about it. And the first conversation that he had was after his dear wife passed away. He told me that he could no longer live in that house. I don't know the day he moved but one morning I looked for him and he wasn't there. Although I realize that he wasn't there anymore, I couldn't help gazing at his porch each morning.
I fondly remember the all the days that he started my day with a laugh. I missed him dearly and I wish him well wherever he may be. Thank you for all the laughter that you contributed to all my days, Mr. MacGuire. We never had a long conversation before he said he could no longer live in that house, even though he and his wife had been liging there for years; and I'd known him for ten years beore then. I never knew her that well, but her husband was very sociable. He was one of the few people in my neighborhood who was. The wife was a very quiet lady; though. I never heard her speak. I guess opposites really do attract!
But I want to wish you well wherever you are Mr. MacGuire. I still don't know what you meant, but I still laugh when I think about you.



Curated by Caitlin Cieri