First, Cari and I have a recurring volunteering obligation at 9:30 at an assisted living home in East Vancouver. I spotted the volunteer post a long time ago in govolunteer.ca because it asked for Cantonese language skills and I wanted to roll practicing Chinese with volunteering. For an hour each week, I visit several residents who have been identified as suitable to be visited and I’ve come to really look forward to checking in with them every week to see how they are doing. Some of my charges are less spirited and less talkative but I’ve met one who is talkative, remembers who I am, and has stories to tell. Not raucous stories of youthful rebellion, but pleasant stories of her life outside.
More recently, I have been able to meet a resident I was assigned but hadn’t been able to visit until then. The neat thing is how she and her husband were both in a Beijing symphony. With her, I cannot practice my Cantonese and instead desperately try to string together a single Mandarin sentence–it’s truly pathetic. With her very limited English, we somehow get along. Last week, I found her playing the piano and we played something together and it was a brilliant way to pass the Sunday visit!
Of course, I personalize the stories they tell me. My maternal grandparents entered a nursing home several years ago, giving up independent living in Scarborough. I think one of them is doing quite well considering they are both 90+. My parents both march on towards the retirement range and I fervently hope they have good genes and adequate lifestyle/environmental factors (although grueling for their age) to avoid the saddest afflictions I see.
Then, after our hour, Cari and I revel in having brunch afterwards, checking out eating spots in the west-side. Sunday mornings are when boyfriends are happily sitting alone at home glued to the football game–or just waking up–and is a precious time to chat and catch up, eat a hearty brunch, and just be out and about. After brunch, a little dreary and content, we still have a whole day ahead of each of us!