It’s my favorite day of the week, Tuesday. For the past few years most of my Tuesdays have included going to a nearby retirement center to visit Frank. Well, not only Frank. He was the beginning. But just for him, I’ll be making these Lemon Bars today, via a recipe from Ina Garten: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-bars-recipe-1941483. The coconut cake I baked for Easter used mainly egg whites, so I have several beautiful yolks I don’t want to go to waste…the lemon curd for these bar cookies are a perfect way to use them!!
Just who is Frank? Frank is the father-in-law of one of my best friends. He moved to this center several years ago. Wanting to make sure he was not lonely and doing okay, my friend gathered a group of us together to visit him every so often. This place happens to have a happy hour every day but Sunday from 3:30 to 4:30 (dinner is served in the dining area directly following!). The finest “Cardboardeaux” (boxed wine) is served, along with a selection of beer and soda…water, too. The idea is to get people to gather, to meet…to socialize.
Somehow it worked out that Tuesday was the best day for us to visit. As time went on our group expanded. It began with a few of us girlfriends and Frank. We even had T-shirts made up, reading, “Frank Happy Hour…Old Folks, Old Jokes, New Wine!” Trust me, there really are a lot of old jokes floating around…oft repeated ones. Ha!
Patrick – another resident – soon joined us, followed by a few others. There are Merle, Marie and Mario. Bea and Ethyl are amazing! Ages 99 and 102 respectively…both dress to the nines every day, with make-up and jewelry to complete their look. Bill is an ex-Marine who became an author at age 63…to date he has 7 published book and is working on a new one. Some have moved to other places: Norm and Elaine (very recently…we miss them!); Betty, and John.
Patrick’s daughter and three granddaughters began to join us, along with his great-grandchildren. He only had 2 when we began, now he has 5 great-grandkids with a 6th due any day now! Each Tuesday is filled with a mix of generations spending time together and sharing stories.
Our group continues to grow. When we walk in we are often greeted with, “The girls are here. It must be Tuesday!” The past two Christmases we have caroled there. We celebrate birthdays, holidays…everything we can think of. There are beads given out for Mardi Gras, Valentines in February, and lots of green in March.
Today is even more special for me. I am heading over there early to help another resident, Loretta, with a book project she is working on. I have always been fascinated by people’s life stories, and hers is a deep and rich tale that I am so vey honored to be able to help her with it. Since it is her story to tell I will not give out any details, but I will certainly let you know when it is ready to read! She is an amazing woman with many adventures under her belt…and she paints, too!
It’s funny, many of the residents tell us how nice it is of us to come by each week, how much they look forward to our visits. What they do not realize is that we get so much more from this time. They are treasures. The stories they have lived are simply amazing. I have been astounded at what they have lived through, how they did so, and the adventures they have had in their time on earth so far. They are inspiring, and it encourages me to get out there and live my life to the fullest. Most of all, I see souls who are the same as you and me. Souls who want to be loved and remembered and validated.
I turned 50 this past October. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I know who think that is old, that life is ending. I could not disagree more. These people I see on Tuesdays, they are as alive as any kid I know. Youth is not held in a number. It is how you feel, how you act, how you live. I know a few folks younger in age than me who are practically dead inside. That’s not for me! I plan to be young to the end, not matter how old I grow.