Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lea’s Quartet: Beatrice, Hattie, Joe, Gogo

In the last blog post, Lea reflected on four stories that have personally impacted her. Here’s Lea’s story quartet that I hope you will find moving too. For me, rereading them with Lea’s insight casts a fresh glow on all these stories, beyond what I had realized before.

I love it when volunteers and readers tell me which stories have moved them over the years, because depending on what you are going through at that particular moment in time in your particular life, it’s always a different set of stories for everyone. And even within the same stories, the life lessons we each draw out are different. And so, in that way, each story is really embedded with a million life lessons, a million gifts – they transform into something totally unique and custom, just for you, just for me.

I remember a conversation I had with Madi, our teen outreach officer, about how to make stories relevant to teens. I asked her, who joined us when she was 15 and is now 18 and college bound, whether we should come up with a followup question for each story, and she said no. She told me Best Day stories are like art, the freedom of interpretation is part of what makes them special. That freedom is partly what attract teens to visit our seniors, read our blog, connect with us on social media, come to our events, and that freedom we hope will be what attracts teens to crack open in inspirational storybook for all ages that our volunteers – with Madi being one of the leads – are busy compiling behind the scenes.

And so, I invite you to savor the meaning that Lea has so beautifully drawn for us from these stories, while finding new meaning of your own!

Beatrice Newkirk
Living Life to the Fullest

Living life without pain.  We all feel some kind of pain.  We have to take it one day at a time.  Everyone has the time to do what is right.

We are all here for a reason.  Time waits for no one.  Everyday is a blessing.

When we complain, someone is worse than you.  So we take it one day at a time.

Hattie Lee Ellerbe
4. 4.2013
A Day to Remember When I was Four

My mother was bathing me in the large tin tub on the kitchen table one Saturday night.  I must have been thinking about my civil rights….. the Emancipation and all that stuff….. I was named after my maternal grandmother “Hattie”, so they called me “Little Hattie”.  I wore these funny looking black patent leather high top shoes.

Well, this Saturday I had had it.  I told my mother “I don’t want to be called ‘Little Hattie’ and I am sick and tired of these high top shoes”.  

So, it was written… so it was done…. I was “Hattie” with the regular string up low shoes.

Joe Garrison
The Thing that I Miss

I was born and raised in Philadelphia and things have changed a lot, but the one thing I really miss is the trolley rides.  I had an uncle who used to take me all over the city on trolley rides. I would say I was between four and six, but when my uncle took me on the rides, I noticed little intricacies about the trolleys. I remember they were big, heavy, massive vehicles and when they passed they would vibrate the streets and sidewalk. I remember getting on the trolley, and there were two conductors at each end and when you paid they would ring a bell like a cash register. The seats used to be made of wood, like big wooden benches. Even when I was a teenager, I still had a fascination with trolleys. My friend and I would go on Route 23 and stay on for the whole route just to have something to do. I used to live near a trolley line, and I would feel the vibrations of the train and that’s how you know the trolley was coming. I get that same feeling in the subway or the elevated train, and it’s basically a glorified trolley.

Buses are okay, but they’re not the same. It’s basically a glorified, really big car. It’s not the same as the thrill of riding a trolley car. Throughout the years, the one thing I will miss about Philadelphia is the trolley.

Gogo Jenny Williams
My Best Days Are Now

I meet people daily who are overwhelmed with the complexities of life in the 21st century. People are rushing around like a colony of ants without the intent and purpose of ants. Ants know where they are going. What’s wrong with me? I sometimes wonder. Aha, that’s my predicament, wonderment, the excitement of the moment. Each day is a new day, when I wake up it does not yet appear where it will go.