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Friday, March 11, 2016



     Last Saturday my wife signed us up for the Martin Luther King Day of Service with the Volunteer New York! organization. Back in 1994 President Clinton signed legislation providing for a day when people could give back to the community by teaming up with charitable groups. I'm hoping to give so much back to the community that the community is going to owe me BIG TIME. I will remind them when it comes time to rake my leaves.

     Born Michael King, Martin Luther's father chose to change his own and his son's name following a trip to Germany and learning of the Protestant priest. Before becoming a great orator Martin Luther King, Jr. sang in his church choir at the premier of Gone With the Wind in Atlanta at the age of 10. I'm not sure what they sang, but I would have recommended a couple of things we were working on in Sunday school, such as "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," although for years after that I was scared to go near a water spout. "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" is another tune we performed pretty well, but it's kind of an audience participation song, and everything in it takes place so early in the morning.

     Anyway, our assignment with Volunteer New York! was to visit with some of the seniors over at Somers Manor. It was time for bingo in the rec room, and I immediately plopped down at a table with Victoria, Joan, Georgina and Kate, because I heard they were the big winners on bingo days. The game commenced, and I imagined that the conversation would go something like this:

Rick: So Victoria, did you have a career when you were younger?
Victoria: I was a dietitian's aide at the hospital, but back then there were no dietitians.
Bingo Caller: B-4!
Victoria: Before that I was in high school.
Rick: What about you, Kate?
Bingo Caller: I-64!
Kate: You're 64? You don't look bad for 65. I would have said you were 66.
Rick: I'm 57.
Joan: I-57?
Kate: Oh.
Joan: O-57?
Rick: What about you Joan, where did you work?
Joan: I worked in the County Clerk's office with that lady over there, what's her name again?
Bingo Caller: G-9!
Joan: Oh yeah, Janine.
Bingo Caller: I-2!
Joan: You too? I don't remember you there, but it was a while ago.
Georgina: U-2? There's no "U" in "bingo!"
Bingo Caller: I-1!
Georgina: You won! Congratulations! Dinner's on Rick!

     But in reality the gals were quite with it, and I was the only one without it, my hearing pretty well shot from years of playing rock and roll music. We chatted about where they lived and what they did, and a little about their kids. Our table had five winning bingo cards, each awarded a prize of candy. Not enough to ruin your dinner, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on whom you ask.

     It was a pleasant afternoon, certainly more so for me than for them, and it made me think about a few things, something I could use more practice in. I know that sometimes our society tends to ignore or marginalize older people, but really, what is "older?" There is always somebody older than you are, and somebody younger. We focus so much of our attention on the first few decades of life, but the younger you are, the less you can teach anyone about history or experience.

     When I get a little older, I want to look back and say, "Ha! I forgot more about life than you'll know in a lifetime!" But I know that when the time comes, I will forget to say that.

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