Thursday, May 20, 2010

“A Class of Love and Laughter”

Feeling a little reflective since tonight I will be sitting on a panel for a public event called "Arts for All Ages" to talk about the mega picture of this project. Nervous too. Because this project began pixel by pixel, literally, word by word on the page and then on the screen, and it's daunting to step back and have to give names and descriptions to the intertwined relationships connecting seniors, their families, volunteers, blogreaders. Well, there is only one thing to do, draw on what the seniors say about the class and what the class means to them. We had a discussion about this last month but I've been waiting for the right time to post them on the blog. Looks like today is the day.

(Click open our Facebook page to see a link to the event. Hope to see some of you there!)

Beatrice Newkirk
A Class of Love and Laughter

We do things and talk about things. Things that happened before and things that happened after. There are a lot of things we talk about. Sometimes we talk of things that happened in the past. Sometimes we talk about how we grew up. We talk about things we did when we were young. There are so many things to remember and lot of things we want to forget. Things that we have now, like

1.     The cell phone
2.     Computer
3.     First Black President
4.     Sad things happening

We are the generation of today. Our kids and grandkids are the grandkids are the generation of tomorrow. What we do today will affect them tomorrow. I am so glad I came to this class.

Helen H. Lahr
The Best Day in My Life So Far

When I first saw that title in our newsletter (advertising a newly formed writing class), I thought, I’ll just go and find out what that class was all about.  If it was boring, I wouldn’t return.  Actually, I totally expected this to happen – but it didn’t!  As I sat in the class, I listened to the readings and excitement of both the participants and our chairperson.  And, how very interesting their writings were.  I became as excited as they were.  Needless to say, I’ve been coming to the class ever since - I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Hattie Lee Ellerbe
Hanging with Mrs. Cooper

Benita Cooper has been our teacher for the Philadelphia Senior Center Writing Workshop since September of 2009.

It has been amazing how she throws out a subject to us and we start to put down on paper a store house of memories.  We get a chance to share with a small group of very interesting people, things that have been locked in our memory “boxes” for many years.

Benita, a beautiful young lady, full of energy, shows an interest in all of our stories and has even created a website for us.  This helps our family members and others to share with us as we journey.

Mrs. Cooper (Benita) has endeared us to her as she shares her love for her own grandmother.

For about an hour or so on Thursday afternoons, we share a delightful time … hanging with Mrs. Cooper.

Hazel Nurse*

Writing for fun is high on my list of priorities! To join a group of writers so young in spirit, relaxed, uninhibited, makes this experience priceless.

(*Hazel wrote this piece the first time she ever came to class. When we had our class discussion recently, she asked me to pull it up here on the blog - the piece was originally posted on March 22 - and reread it to the class, to share again. )

I am remembering a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago, when my husband and I went to Seattle to surprise my grandma and family for my grandma’s 89th birthday. My grandma! The very inspiration of this entire project! (Check out the blog sidebar to read more.) And one night, she and I got on the class’ Facebook page to see photos of the group. She asked me one question and gave me two pieces of advice.

“Who’s best friends with whom?”

“Don’t forget to show them pictures of us from your Seattle visit! Tell them I say hi!”

“Once in a while, bring them some cookies. They’ll love cookies.”

I am realizing something. The stories written and told in our class are amazing, no doubt about it. But the stories are just the icebreaker. What this project is actually crafting is friendships. That is the real art of this intricate, collaborative work-in-progress.