Holiday Time

Holidays are particularly hard for seniors who are alone. Throughout the month of December, there’s a constant reminder on the radio, television and newspaper about gift giving  – which indicates you actually have people to give to . For the seniors that are part of the Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly program, they are either invited to holiday event or visited in their home. I recently visited Chicago HQ on Ashland and there are some very dedicated people making sure that every senior has a holiday gift. I’m not just talking a pair of slippers (although that is sometimes what the senior really wants); I’m talking about thoughtful gifts for each individual senior.

As I sit here today, December, 2010

Fast forwarding to the present, as I re-read some of my thoughts from the first few visits – how nervous I was that I would not be able to hold a conversation with a very forgetful 101 year old woman – I finally came to realize that while the conversation is part of the visit, the biggest part of the visit was that there even was a visit.

Within a few months of those first few visits, I saw Bessie at least once a week.

A visit on my own

During my first visit on my own, I mentioned to Bessie that I visited the week before with someone from Little Brothers. She responded that she’s over 100 and doesn’t remember these things.  Over the years that I visited Bessie, she never knew my name. Yes, of course I told her, but it was not something that she was able to recall.  Despite this, she learned to recognize me. I knew this for sure when I visited one day with my glasses on rather than my contacts. “I’ve never seen you with glasses,” she said.

The First Visit

With both excitement and nervousness, I met Bessie in December, 2001. Read about my first visit here.

December, 2001, The Beginning

As a Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly volunteer, I started visiting Bessie in 2001. I visited her regularly for a few years until she started living in a nursing home in Skokie, IL.  I visited her irregularly until she died in November, 2008.

I want to share our story with you.  That is, my time as a visiting volunteer with woman with a fascinating story.

Throughout my visits, I kept a journal (an on-and-off habit of mine) and will be sharing that as well.