Friday, December 30, 2011

Being Old is Good

A couple years ago, when this whole project was still new, I was cleaning my apartment and found a story. The first sentence: “Being old is good.”

I was shocked because the story points out with four simple words the core belief of our Best Day project (being old IS good!!) then cuts to the chase and confronts the core issues that our project tries to solve, such as isolation and loneliness – but the person writing it had no idea she was doing that. The person was just saying what she felt at the time. Oh, and did I tell you the person happened to be eleven years old? Yeah, it was me.

Crazy, right? It’s like, my heart was always built with a spot for my senior buds – it just took me a couple of decades to figure out how to invite them in.

Technically this project started in late 2009 with our first storytelling class and blog post, personally it started in 2006 with my first call with my grandma, but the first seed of the project might have been planted in 1991, with this story.

Yesterday, when I was cleaning again (to start fresh for the New Year!), I came across the actual physical pages of this story again. And so, I just want to repost it (click Here for a scan of the pages, along with the story's original appearance here on the blog) to say once more what I said at age eleven, as a sixth-grader in Hong Kong. Being old is good.

11-year-old Benita
Helping the Elderly

Being old is good. You are experienced. You know what is right and what is wrong.

But being old is bad in many ways too. Every morning, your family will go out, either for work or for play, leaving you alone. All you can do is knit or play mahjong with your neighbors. You cannot have a lot of fun, for even a little running will tire you out. Besides, you have to do everything slowly, making yourself impatient.

That is why we should help the elderly. We should visit our grandparents frequently to chat with them and help them with housework. We can also have breakfast with them at Chinese restaurants.

If I were a grandparent and if my grandchildren always stayed with me, I would be really, very happy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Brenda (The Dress)

It’s officially the most party-filled time of the year, and it’s time to get dressed up! Here’s Brenda showing us how to handle all our fashion disasters – confront it head on with a funny story and well, find another dress! And Brenda, you are beautiful just the way you are, in any size or color ;)

Brenda Bailey
The Dress

I was invited to a dinner party one Friday evening and I was so excited to get all dressed up. I never pre-try on clothes I already love so I knew my cute navy blue dress – that I had for several years – would be just fine. After showering and etc., I took my dress out of the closet, off the hanger, and pulled it over my head. But when I tried to put my arm in the sleeve, it wouldn’t go on. I then attempted again to pull the dress straight over my head, it went on but no further. Maybe I hadn’t unzipped the dress – but I had. I tried to step-in to the dress but when it got to my hips, it stopped! What had happened to my dress? Who had altered my dress? How could I get this dress to fit again? I was so upset! I picked another outfit I had just purchased and I knew it would fit, and went to the affair. The whole night I thought about the dress.

When I got home and undressed, I did the unthinkable – I looked at the tags and compared sizes – what a shock?! When had I gone from a 12 to 22? Had I awaken from a dream and became PHAT? I started to think about Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig + others but I knew these programs were too costly for me. So I guess I’ll retire my blue dress and find one I can fit in.

What a bummer!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Joe (Honey Girl)

And now, a Christmastime love story to cozy up with. Happy holidays to you and yours!

Joe Garrison
Honey Girl

It was on a Wednesday morning in early December 2006.  Debra had asked me to help her with a project she was working on.  And I would never say no to her.  I had already bought her Christmas present and was very anxious to present it to her.  But I also had something to confess to her.  For a while I had been wanting to tell her how I felt about her, but I wasn’t sure how she was going to accept it. 

We finished her project.  And had lunch afterwards.  I was waiting for an opportunity.  I finally got the courage to say what I had to say.  “I have something to tell you and I can’t hold back any longer.  I am in love with you.”

She replied, “I’ve been in love with you for years.”  And with that, we embraced and kissed.  It was then that I felt I had reached the high point of my romantic life.  I realized that I had found the love of my life, my dream girl, my million dollar baby.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Helen (Waiting for Santa Claus)

Well, looks like you guys have been pretty nice because look who is coming to town...! Little ones and big ones, time to get giddy!

Helen H. Lahr
Waiting for Santa Claus

In my neighborhood Santa makes his entrance on the Saturday before Christmas. 

So, on Friday night, prior to his coming, my granddaughter came over accompanied by her little ones.  How happy Deidre (my daughter) and I were!  Our home was full of joy and excitement, mostly because the great grands were having so much fun.

Finally, it was bed time.  Then, everything was quiet.  The adults sat around the Christmas tree.  The girls played CDs with Christmas music and carols softly while we snacked on goodies.  How we have fun just being together and reminiscing about happenings in the past.

Finally, we went to bed!  Morning came.  Noon came.  All of us went out on the lawn.  Soon what did we hear, but the sound of horns honking in the distance.  Then, around the bend came a large red fire engine with Santa on top, yelling, “Ho, Ho, Ho!”  Children from down the road came running up screaming, “It’s Santa, it’s Santa!”

My little ones (4 of them) were also screaming as Santa went by.  And you know what?  I was as happy and giddy acting as the children, although I’m a senior citizen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Doris (A Small World)

Christmas week is suddenly here – can you believe it? I was rereading through my senior buds’ recent stories, looking for something to post today that would ring in the holidays with a bang, when I came across a pair of Doris’. Unknowingly I think I was looking for a spectacular story but it was these quieter ones stopped me in my tracks. Even though they aren’t specifically about the holidays, they remind me of how closely connected we all are, which to me, is a big part of what makes the holidays – and life itself – so merry.

Stick around… up next, to keep the holiday spirit rolling – a Santa story and a Christmas love story!

Doris Lang
A Small World

Fifty-five years ago my son was sick.  He was in Children’s Hospital.  I saw this young couple in the lounge.  We started to talk and I found out they were from Guatemala.  Only the husband spoke English.  He was a Dr. in Guatemala.

They had a two year old in the hospital.  They said their son shot their daughter in the head.

I invited them to my house for dinner.  They were very nice.

A couple of weeks later I carried her to the train.

Shortly after they called me to say she passed away.  They kept in touch with me.

One day I was surprised to get a knock on my door.  They sent me a native skirt and all my children native gifts.

My son was still sick.  Two and one half years later he was in Einstein Hospital.  The father wrote me a letter saying he was going to Florida to a convention and his wife could not go because she was pregnant with her sixth child.

My son was getting medicine in the middle of the night.  A nurse sat down next to me and said she just came back from Florida.  She met a man from Guatemala.  She met my friend.

It is a very small world.

Doris Lang
Chance Encounter

Twenty-five years ago, I had a store in Center City. A young woman came into my store.

I said, “You remind me of another girl that came into my store.” She said, “You say that every time. My husband plays for the Eagles and I live across the street. Here is my phone number. Call me when she comes in.”

When she came in, I called her and she came in.

They started to scream. I found out they were roommates in college and didn’t know
where they were located after school. They looked nothing alike and could not believe I put them together.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bernice (Just Being Here)

To my silly bud Bernice, I was so sad to hear that you got sick again but I am so happy you are in rehab and doing well – I am sure you are making all the nurses and therapists laugh as hard as you make us laugh in class with your funny stories. I liked saying hi to you on Beatrice’s cell phone when she put it up to your ear at the hospital a couple weeks ago, and I liked that you asked her to call me the other day so I knew you were getting better. I miss you so much!

Bernice Moore
Just Being Here

It is good to be able to see everyone because I have been home sick with my granddaughter.   She took good care of me. I missed a lot of my friends.  It is good to be around good people.  May God bless everyone.

Beatrice Newkirk
My Missing Link

My missing link is my sister. She is sick and in the hospital. She is now in rehab. She is coming along fine now. I am very thankful for everyone who has asked about my sister. She sends everyone her love. She misses the class very much. I tell her what everyone is saying about her.

She will be here soon. I can’t say when, time waits for no one. She was not talking at first. Now she is doing a little better. I felt real bad when she got sick. Everyone has a sick day at some time. God is the head doctor. He has the last say.

Have a nice day,
Beatrice Newkirk

Beatrice Newkirk
A Time to Remember

A time to remember is about good things. We never should forget the good things.  Remembering things that you should never forget.  Thinking about what happened years ago or what happened weeks and days ago. Like when my sister got sick and when I went to see her and she could not talk. But now thanks to God, she is alright.  She is talking up a storm and she is not on a machine. Time does not stand still. Sometimes I think about the good things in life, and I count my blessings.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Give the Gift of Best Day

Hello Readers,

Looking for an out-of-the-box holiday gift for a special someone? Consider contributing to The Best Day of My Life So Far Fund – in honor of or in memory of a loved one.

Your donation will help us open the voices of more seniors through storytelling while connecting them with younger generations worldwide. Simply go to and click on the donation banner at the top to contribute online or by mail. 

Happy holidays,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Robert (An Old, Old Man)

Sometimes when the mood strikes, a senior would write two or three stories in class but pick just one to read out loud. Then after class, he or she would still hand me all the stories to share here with you guys on the blog. I still remember the first time I noticed this happening. It was actually a while ago. The story that Beatrice read out loud was fun and sassy, but the one she handed to me – unread – was intense. It was about a letter that she had written and still hadn’t given to one of her sons, because she was still waiting for the right time. You can check out that blog post Here. It made me realize that telling your stories to your peers is one kind of wonderful and telling your stories to the world is another kind, and it’s having the opportunity to do both, or either, that makes our seniors a little happier each week. A few weeks ago, Robert wrote a long story and a short story. Both are soulful. I love both equally. And I think there’s something awesome that the short one is the one he chose to read out loud.

Robert Leung
An Old, Old Man

Today is November the 17th, 2011.  The times have sure gone by very, very fast.  Next month is going to be Christmas and, of course, right after Christmas it will be New Year’s, which means another year has gone by, and after the New Year, I will be one more year older.  Would you believe it, I will be 71 years old.  Oh, my Goodness, I’m going to be an old, old man.  I mean how can I be that old?  I remember when I was still in school.  If I heard someone mentioning an 80-year-old man or woman, I would say and think, I will never be that old, never mind that I will be in that state. Now I am, I must face the fact.

And just to think of it, it has been a long, long way for me.  First, I was in the 2nd World War, then the Japanese War (from 1940 to 1948) then I went through the Chinese War (from the Got Man Don to communist China.)  It sure seems like I never had a quiet, peaceful year. And would you believe it, right after that, I immigrated to other countries.  I came to Canada at first, but that country was never meant for me, because it’s in the northern part.  And I hate the snow – and cold and windy places – so I came to the US, which meant I had to learn another world and system.  So just think what kind of life I have been and gone through.  All in all, thank God I been through and developed a wonderful one.

Before living here, I was the 1st Chinese and the oriental jockey in this country’s system -  back then there were no jockeys who were blacks or other colors.

Robert Leung
The Best Day of Our Life

As we reach the winter times, it’s very windy and cold but we still wanted to come anyway.  We need to support our reading club.  Mo and Mike (Michael) and I walk about 3 miles – 14 blocks – because I don't want to miss our reading club.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Come with Us to... Kansas!

Hey super readers,

I'll be speaking live (via Skype! did you guys know I am a Skype fanatic?) TOMORROW AROUND 3PM CST at University of Kansas' Digital Diversity Summit, co-hosted by Online News Association, featuring innovations in storytelling and social media. You can watch the entire event at I will give a never-seen-before presentation for around 15 minutes, then take your questions for another 5. You can post questions via Twitter (#digitaldiv) for me to answer live - I would love to hear what's on your mind!

Click Here for ONA's press release about the event:

See you in Kansas this Saturday!!