Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Reason to Write to People (Ann)

One of my favorite things about Best Day is that you get to meet lots of new people with lots of different perspectives. Even after ten years, I'm still learning lots of new things from the older buds. For instance, last week I learned that Elliot only had one birthday party in his entire life. And he even told me that he hadn't realized how important birthdays were to most people his age until it came up in conversation. If you're interested in transcribing for older buds, and learning something new about them in the process, email us at for more info. Transcribers get to read our stories before anyone else, and they get to do it for a great cause. Like this story below about Ann meeting her English pen pal in person:

Ann Von Dehsen

During the early 1960’s when all things British were the rage, my family experienced our own joyful British invasion in the form of Vanessa Sapsford.
My sister Ellen and Vanessa had been pen-pals since elementary school. Now both 18 years old, Vanessa wrote to say she was coming to NY on holiday and hoped she and Ellen could spend some time together. Of course, my hospitable mother insisted she stay with us and Vanessa graciously accepted. We met her at the airport carrying her photo. Vanessa was also armed with photos of the 4 of us. From the photos we had, we knew Vanessa was quite attractive.
We watched and waited a the passengers disembarked. A man behind me said to his wife, “Wow, look at that gorgeous young woman. I think she’s someone famous,” as other people began to look at her too. I knew it must be Vanessa. She was wearing a pink linen suit with a silk blouse, patent leather shoes and purse, perfect hair and a permanently beautiful face. She would have been the definition of sophistication except for the fact that when she spotted us in the crowd she yelled, “Ellen, Ann, is that you?” did a little dance with arms in the air as she ran over to engulf all 4 of us in a dancing group hug.
On the way home from the airport, Vanessa was awe shocked over the largeness of everything – the TWA airport pavilion, the size of our car – which she called a “yacht on wheels,” the lights of the city, the George Washington Bridge. We talked and laughed all the way home and by the time we pulled into our driveway, my family had fallen in love with Vanessa’s warmth and joyful spirit.
When I showed Vanessa my room, she of course noticed my many Beatle posters, starring George Harrison. Did I mention I was just about to turn 13 and was pretty sure I would marry George Harrison someday?
Continuing to look at the posters, she casually said, “Good choice, Ann. George really is the nicest of the Beatles.” “Excuse me? You know the Beatles??” Turns out she finished high school at 16 and began working at a PR firm that represented the Beatles in the early days of their fame. As she put it, she often “partied in their social circle” adding they were very nice pals. For once, my self-absorbed 13-year-old self was speechless. The magic of Vanessa continued to spread during the week.
My father was never one to voluntarily go into New York City – too much traffic, too expensive, no place to park, etc. etc. But suddenly, he was taking time off from work so we could show Vanessa everything – the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Wall Street, Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village. It was a whirlwind of a week and through it all, Vanessa was appreciative, amazed, and often downright silly – she worked on her American accent by calling us “you’s guys” and singing “Wild Things” and “Dirty Water” as we traveled. Our family suddenly began drinking more tea and referring to everything as “quite lovely..”
Now, my father was a big NY Yankees fan. Vanessa didn’t know much about baseball but did know who Willie Mays and turns out Willie’s San Fransisco Giants were playing the Yankees on the last night of Vanessa’s visit. So, surprise! My father suddenly came home with 5 tickets to the game. After outfitting Vanessa in a Yankee’s cap and tee shirt and a borrowed pair of my sisters cut off jeans, off to Yankee Stadium, we went.
It took Vanessa about 1 minute to get into the spirit of a ball game. She spent most of the game on her feet, rooting for both teams in her best American accent (“Hey, batter batter batter) But she saved her best for Willie’s at-bat – when he got a hit it was “Atta boy, Willie!” If he struck out – “Next time, Willie!” I’m sure if the jumbotron existed back then, Vanessa would have been the star. As it was a young woman came up to her and asked, “Are you a famous model?” As Vanessa drank her beer and chowed down on a hot dog, Vanessa responded, “Nope, not me!”
As the teams exited the field, Vanessa slipped back into her British hammers and yelled to each team, “lovely game mates, lovely game.” We sang “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” all the way home.
All good things must come to an end and all too soon we were driving Vanessa back to the airport. The ride was unusually quiet and by the time we got to the gate, we were all in tears as Vanessa hugged and thanked each of us.
A pilot walked by and said to my mom, “It’s hard to say goodbye to your daughter, isn’t it?” To which my mom really lost it. Vanessa promised she’d return and she did eventually with her husband and then with her daughter.
This friendship and love lasted for several decades. There is more to be told so I will continue this story at another time.

If you can't volunteer in person, but want to send us stories from an older bud (or if you're an older bud with stories to share,) you can send them through our portal right here 
And if you're just plain passionate about supporting older buds and ending senior isolation, there’s a lot of ways to show your love. You can like us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, and share links to your favorite stories.

Thanks for reading, and have a good day.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Valentine's (Elliot)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! If you’re passionate about supporting older buds and ending senior isolation, there’s a lot of ways to show your love. You can like us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, and share links to your favorite stories. If you or an older bud have your own story to share, you can send them through that very same portal right here.

We’re also looking for people to transcribe our stories, so if you’re interested and live in Philadelphia or Greater Philadelphia, please email us at Transcribers get to read our stories before anyone else, and they get to do it for a great cause. I wonder which of our transcribers got to read this one ahead of time:

Elliot Doomes
Merry-Go Round
My life seems like I'm on a merry-go-round. Maybe it's the circles that I travel in, but I seem to be meeting the same people everywhere I go. They seem to aspire to the same things, but are doing nothing to achieve those goals and aspirations. Mostly, they describe what they want and aspire to what they want and neglect what they need. "Gimme, gimme, gimme, can you let me have." That's what I hear the most. And its embarrassing to me to have able-bodied people whose means are equal or greater than my own and their financial situation is either equal to mine or better. Some people don't seem to think I need my cane and I walk up and down the stairs without it. And then, because of my vision, most the time I use my cane for distance so I don't bump into things. I did walk into that door downstairs one day. That automatic door closed on my left side before I went through and I didn't see it coming and it smacked me in the face. It seems that the people that I meet have so many problems and some have exaggerated problems. And they try to involve me as if I have a solution to their problems. Sometimes I offer advice, even unwillingly, although unwillingly. If I could just make up my mind, say what may seem cruel, "It's your problem. Not mine. Deal with it!" I am not smarter than they are and if I had a solution, so do they also. I have learned not to take nothing and make it something that it ain't. 

Thanks for reading, and have a good day.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Stages (José)

Last week, the older buds at Best Day had a great idea. After all the times I’d plugged The Moth, a few of them thought that we could do our own story slam at Best Day. We’d pick a topic, put everyone’s names in a bucket, and each older bud would tell a five minute story based on the theme. Older bud Eleanor even volunteered her alarm to keep us from going over the time limit.

On Monday, I went to a Moth story slam with older bud Joyce and her son Hakim. Hakim wasn’t able to stay for the whole show, but he liked what he saw and seemed interested in learning more. Joyce enjoyed everyone’s stories, but she wanted more time to practice and prepare her story before going onstage. I wonder if she’ll go onstage after a Best Day story slam?

And on Tuesday, I bumped into none other than older bud Nouria! I hadn’t heard from her in over a year, because she was in Paris, France with her two twin baby granddaughters. We met by chance at the Wilma Theatre’s “Describe the Night,” and she might be submitting some stories through our web portal pretty soon...

If you or an older bud have a story to share, you can send them through that very same portal right here. If you want to keep Best Day going for another ten years, then like us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And check out this story by older bud José:

Jose Dominguez
Oh No, Why Did You Tell Me?

This last Sunday, I went to the Michener Art Museum at Doylestown. My most important experience there was when John, a very kind artist, invited me to attend a silent view of a painting, so I went and visited some other 10 persons. John was a very good facilitator and introduced us to an expressionist work of art. As you can imagine, he selected one [that] had all colors arranged in a kaleidoscopic mixture of light, form, and movement. He did not tell us what was the idea of the painting and purposely he declared, “You can make your own story of what you are looking at because I’m not going to tell you nothing.”
Well, I liked his statement and faced the enigmaticness that obviously represented the painter’s feelings. So at that moment after some minutes of frustration trying to find structure, form, or meaning, I decided that the only meaning I will put to work was my own point of view. So I engaged myself in a pleasant struggle to fantasize whatever I suppose or feel. I don’t have to say, but it was fun. After some minutes, John was in charge again of the facilitation, a few of us participated, sharing their own ideas but John decided to tell us the painter’s idea and told us: “You know, this is a jazz composition and there are 3 musicians. Can you find them?” And the fun was over, back to reality! Everybody was trying to find human figures in the mess of colors and figures and they were found! He asked for my opinion and I said, “I had so much fun wondering that I didn’t enjoy to know the real meaning of the painting. I would prefer not to know it and continue with my fantasy.”
Thanks for reading, and have a good weekend.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Here's to You (Frances)

I’m talking this opportunity to talk about our older bud Frances. Last week I came down with a bad chest cold, and I had to take the week off. I’m the only facilitator at the Philadelphia Senior Center’s Best Day workshop, but I can always trust Frances to step in at a moment’s notice. She’s professional, punctual, and very motivated to make sure everyone reads. She almost always decides the reading order at Best Day, and she’s taken some of our Senior Selfies too. When she’s not in Best Day, she’s working as a landlord, speaking at City Hall meetings, and attending the Constitution Class after Best Day. So please enjoy this story below, so you can see how invested she is in politics and society:

Frances Bryce
Unlimited Powers

The president seems to believe that he has unlimited powers that are not spelled out in any part of the Constitution I have read. The three branches of the government that include the Congress, seems to be lost on him and that they are not equal to insure that we are not a part of an autocratic government run exclusively by him and his followers. Recent events that makes me remember an event in history: the president tweeted by the Executive branch, stating they would not honor requests from the House of Representatives, that is investigating issues for impeachment. Congress reported that Trump asked the Ukrainian President to probe a political (Joe Biden) rival for the 2020 Presidential election. The illegality of a foreign government to interfere in the election of the USA.

Trump is attempting to put the emphasis on Biden instead of the role he places (Trump is asking a foreign government to assist in his personal quest to find something about Biden and his son).

Joseph Nye was an American lawyer in October 6, 1969, hearing of the Communist activities of the Joseph McCarthy's senate. He said after  McCarthy caused many people to be fired and cases destroyed. He stated to McCarthy, "At long last have you no sense of decency."
I pose this to our new serving President. Have you no shame?? Our leader insists on calling people he disagrees with vile names and rejects the role of a branch of government as if he is an autocrat. He seems to surround himself with only those who do not question his positions that are not in align with policy and now it seems with provisions in the Constitution. 

I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy New Year.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Hustle and Bustle (Carolyn)

Hi everyone. I hope you've all done a little extra something for Martin Luther King Day. Even better if you did a little extra something with Best Day ;)

Last week was a flurry of activity, especially because the copier broke and I had to use the one in the offices. But the good news is that Carolyn came back and it seems like she'll be in Best Day for a while. It also seems like there will be a lot more older buds going to The Moth on February, and we might see another older bud onstage this time. And for those of you who read the January 9th post, you'll be pleased to know that one our news-worthy Senior Selfie is now on our front page! There's Kodak moments, and then there's Kodak moments within moments within moments.

Also, I saw something new to add to my growing list of "older buds indulging in modern pop culture" moments: an older bud wearing a T-Shirt with the Triforce from the Legend of Zelda games! I only saw it for a moment, so I couldn't get a picture. But now I'm wondering how familiar that older bud is with video games.

In the spirit of hustling, bustling, and just moving in general, I'm showing off Carolyn's history of movement: 

Carolyn Boston

When I was a young woman, I wanted to see the world and visit as many countries as I could. I started out by applying to the Peace Corps and was accepted to work in Vietnam. I also sent in an application to the Airlines to become an Airline Stewardess and was accepted. All this happened in one year. I was ecstatic! Now was my time to choose. I was undaunted by the challenges I’d face by accepting either offer. Weighing the pros and cons, I decided that working for the Airlines would be a wise choice because I’d have the opportunity of seeing the world and flying for free. I was still living with my parents. My mother heard of my desire to be a Globe Trekker, she negated both offers and refused to sign the paperwork for me. I was extremely disappointed and made my mind up to travel to as many places as I could while still working a full-time job. I’ve been to many places around the globe (Africa, Bahamas, California, New Mexico, Hawaii, etc.) and still have a burning passion to see more. My sister who has the same travel bug has been to India, Morocco, Egypt, and Amsterdam. Her most favorite place to visit was the Taj Mahal which she described as the most beautiful monument she’s ever seen. When you have a passion as I do, you are able to take risks and become fearless in your pursuit. Even though my mother said no, the drive to see the world continued. Both my sister and I are nomads who love adventure and answer the call of unusual and the different.

I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 16, 2020

In and Out (Carolyn and Philip)

It's wintertime and the living is breezy. We often have people breezing in and out of Best Day, for a myriad of reasons. Philip Pai is an excellent writer, but he won't come to Best Day unless he knows exactly what he'll write about. Sometimes I'll see him in the cafeteria, and then he'll vanish as soon as I turn my back. I've tried for months to give him a copy of one of his stories, before I realized he likes to leave right after lunch. I finally gave it to him last week.

Another older bud, Carolyn, has been good about coming to Best Day until a few weeks ago. Unfortunately she had some health challenges, but she's recovering. It feels like all sorts of health issues pop up in Winter, even in a Winter as warm as this. Regardless, everyone at Best Day is sending Carolyn our best wishes.

Carolyn Boston
Nature's Miracle
There is a fairly large population of geese in the area where I live. Last year, a female goose gave birth to five goslings on the roof of the building where I reside. Unfortunately, all of her babies perished because they fell into a concrete pit that houses a large exhaust system used for the building. The residents in my building watched the mother goose brave rain, snow, sleet, and severe cold weather as she sat on her eggs, keeping them warm and protecting them from the harsh elements. As myself and the residents watched this birthing play out on the roof, we marveled at her dedication and commitment to bringing her goslings into the world. It was a tragedy to see those goslings die. Many of the residents wept openly. This mother and her mate remained at the site verbally and lamented the loss of their children. We felt the parents grief as they honked in sadness for two solid weeks. Another root rose out of the gravel and concrete was a single lone free branch. It spiraled high in the air. It was a promise to the mom and dad that there would be restoration. At least that’s what we all perceived it to be. After that, the branch disappeared.
This April, 2019, the goose gave birth again in the exact same spot. I vowed that I would contact the PA Game Commission so that those goslings would not perish (tragedy would not repeat itself).
Another resident contacted them and the State Game Warden traveled all the way from Reading, PA with his daughter and crew because he said they couldn’t last another day – they would die. They rescued, at this time, all seven of her goslings. Even though these babies could not eat, they were strong and beautiful. It was a joyful experience to see the gander, mom, and the seven goslings parade off the property. Heads high and rejoicing they had a new living family.

Story About God
Philip Pai
Many years ago when President Mr. Regan was dead, I watched the funeral from the TV. I saw his wife, Nancy and his children. I think he was buried in California (I felt very sorry) beside his library in L.A., California. At last, there was a song that most people sing for him. After I listened, I liked it so much it was very beautiful. I really enjoyed it but I do not know the title.
Months ago, when I went to hear mass, the priest precast the same song … – it [brought] me to remember Mr. Regan. After, I hoped I could find the song title.
Last week, I had a chance to worship God. The father (priest) tells us which page, what number we will sing. After I listened, it’s as the exact song that I wish to look. That is really the gift from God. After I listened, I really enjoyed it. From the book, I know the title is “This Day God Gives Me.”
Thank God kept me so much [and] helped me get a wonderful and beautiful song. When I have time, I will listen to this special song.

I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Art of Aging (Eleanor, Elliot, Frances, José)

On November 14th, ABC News came to us about a news spot as part of their Art of Aging Series. ABC’s Art of Aging is all about the different ways seniors and people with disabilities are keeping themselves healthy and strong in Philadelphia and Delaware County. I’m proud to say that The Best Day of My Life So Far got its spot aired on January 2nd, 2020. You can watch the clip right here.

You can also stop by the Philadelphia Senior Center at 509 South Broad Street in Philadelphia to meet Best Day’s Older Buds in person. Whether you want to volunteer, meet some cool storytellers or just get an autograph, we’re always happy to have new people coming in. We’ve also posted stories from some of the older buds featured in The Art of Aging below:

Eleanor Kazdan
We were overjoyed when our grandson, Aron was born 5 years ago. My daughter, Julia, had struggled through 3 miscarriages with all the agony and devastation, and here, finally was this gorgeous little baby boy. I must confess that I was hoping she would have a girl, the reason being that her husband's family had a history of severe autism, and I had read that boys are 4 times as likely to be on the autistic spectrum. All seemed fine. But when Aron was 2, his daycare teacher voiced concerns. Aron didn't play with other children and did not readily respond to his name or questions. He also had some obsessive behaviors such as picking up every piece of trash in sight and throwing it in a garbage can. Testing showed that Aron was madly autistic. A diagnosis is a mixed blessing. At age 5, Aron has friends, responds to questions, has good eye contact and is funny and delightful. The obsessive behaviors have faded. He is a handful, though. He has occasional tantrums and difficulty transitioning from one activity to another due to autistic or normal 5-year old behavior. Well, I know for sure that he is a delightful little boy. Last week, after reading him a bedtime story, we talked about his 5th birthday party that day, and about other people's ages. "Is a 6-year-old still a child, Grandma? How about a 13-year-old? Will I live to 100?" I answered as best I could. A thoughtful silence followed. "I have a dream, Grandma, I'm going to live for a hundred million years!"
Elliot Doomes
I'm thinking of going to Wildwood, NJ for Thanksgiving. I have some family there. I have my daughter, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, three grand daughters, a grandson, and two great-grandsons.. The two youngest ones, they may recognize me, but they really don't know who I am. I mean, they hear me called "Pop-Pop" but I really don't think that they understand the significance of that title.They think its just my name. It's not who I am. I want them to know who I am while there's still time. I neer met or knew my grandpa and I had very little time with my father. I knew him, but I never got to know him. He passed when I as just about eight years of age. And I often wondered about who he was and what kind of man was he? I was liked by all my grandchildren and both of my grandchildren for who "Pop-Pop" really is. When I visit them, I very seldom hear my name mentioned by them. Although my grandson has my first name s his middle name, and so does his son. Although they know where the name comes from, they really don't know who that person is. And that's what I want them to know. So this holiday visit provides me with the opportunity to spend some me-time with them and perhaps I can create some memories that they can think back on and relate to. I had no such memories in my life and I didn't have much time with my paw. Although we lived in the same apartment, I only saw him at dinner time. After dinner, hew as preparing at bed for the net workday and the next workday. 

Frances Bryce
Paying Too Much for a Free Service

I paid too much for a free service. The phone, iPad, computer and other modern conveniences that they are now used to provide many services, some that one can truly say allow us convenience, which we enjoy and often save us time. This was not the case for me this morning when I attempted to pay my phone bill using the app supplied to me for doing this task that was supposed to save me time and a one dollar charge if paid on line instead of the store. The appeal was not having to visit a brick and mortar store and of course saving a sum of one dollar was enticing.

I wanted to pay for 3 months and the prompts allowed me to pay for one month, after trying to adjust the payment to 3 months which caused a 31 seconds that I was told would be the wait, lasted 1/2 hours until I finally got a person whose language I could understand, then was told that a $3.25 charge was added, a land protest sent him to his supervisor to undo this error (at least I hope it was corrected). I concluded that a dollar charge in the store seems to me outweigh the free payment play if made online. Time waste was worth more than the online free payment plan.

José Dominiguez
A Little of Wine Helps
When I go to El Paso, Texas, I always stay with one of my oldest brothers, Ramon. He and Bertha are a superb pair of hosts. They treat me as if I were the president of Mexico. The only thing that can be an obstacle with them is that they are 100% Christians and I am 100% nothing. They believe that everything happens according to what their fait says and do a lot of praying for everything.. I respect their way of living and appreciate all the warmth and courtesy I receive from them. But always I have thought that it will come the day wen I will face Ramon and his way of thinking.

This September, I went to El Paso, Texas and among other nice things, he invited me to drink wine, and it was a big bottle, so almost at the end of the bottle we were speaking more vividly and freely. Then I spoke to Ramon saying: "I want to tank you that even when we believe very differently and we have different ways of thinking, you have not tried to convince me, or pressure me in to your religion. And for that, I thank you for the respect you have with me."

There was no answer from Ramon. He only said, taking his glass with wine to his mouth: "I drink to that."

I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri