By Bruce Stambaugh
The dawn broke cloudy with a promise of needed sunshine. Compared to the previous gloomy day of overcast skies, gusty winds and chilly rains, the sun, even just peeks of it, would be more than welcome. It didn’t disappoint.
By mid-morning, the layered blanket of grayness drifted east. Stray cumulous clouds took turns hiding the sun, until they tired of the senseless game. By noon, the wonderful warming sun had the entire blue sky all to itself.
By that point, I had already embarked on my dedicated plan for the day. Having been holed up for several days due to illness, I was ready to get out and about. I headed to one of my favorite places, the retirement community where I used to work and where my folks and my wife’s parents used to live.
I needed to visit with an elderly friend from church. Fannie’s welcoming smile always makes me feel right at home. This day was no exception. I enjoyed the comfort of her old wooden rocker while she chatted away.
Of course I had to hassle the office staff with whom I used to commiserate for five years. Aides, nurses, therapists, and other staff members greeted me as well. The place and people were as gracious as ever.
While there, I decided to check on several other residents I knew. All are old enough to be my parents. Each one always asks how I am doing, and I always respond, “Pretty good for an old guy.” They laugh, refute my declaration, and assure me that I’m still a young man.
I don’t always feel that way. But with every visit there, I come away feeling blessed and motivated. It seems an oxymoron to be renewed at a retirement center. But it’s not by any measure.
I see people I have known all of my adult life, some since I was a child. Despite their various ills and infirmities, I still envision each just as I knew them in earlier days.
There was Betty, my favorite homeroom mother in elementary school; Eileen, the most pleasant of cooks at the school where I taught; Ethel, a model of encouragement for many, and Frances, who radiates sunshine on the gloomiest of days.
Fred, the retired minister, filled me in on his trip to Virginia, hardly missing a detail. His 91-year-old mind was sharp, his eyes bright as he recalled his reunion with friends, brothers, children and grandchildren.
There are others to be sure. Each has captivating stories to tell, yet they sincerely want to know how I am doing, and my wife, too. I always answer that question by saying with a twinkle and a smile, “She’s as mean as ever.”
My senior friends laugh and scold me in the same sentence, proving that they indeed are still deserving of my respect and honor. It heartens me to see and hear them laugh as if they were 40 and not 90. They ooze wisdom.
As they settled in for their lunch, I headed for the car. The dominating sun had warmed the once chilled fall air. It was a beautiful day, made more so by the lovely and loving folks who call me “young man.”
The day had promised to be a good one. My mature friends made it even nicer than the amiable weather.
This column appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2012