The Gift of Yourself (In Memory of Shirley Banks)

Shirley Banks

I’ve had numerous people who have made an impression on me and have shaped my beliefs. One of those is my friend and former educator, Nancy, who used to tell the students, “The greatest gift is the gift of yourself.” Nancy didn’t just say these words; she lived them. Her wisdom has always stayed with me. She influenced me as an educator and as a person.

Each of our experiences helps shape the person we become. When we surround ourselves with selfless people, some of their attitudes will rub off on us.

When my mom (since passed) moved into assisted living, I witnessed genuine acts of kindness by some folks who visited. When I’d spend time with mom, I often saw another visitor named Robert making conversation with many of the residents. He would address them by name, ask how they were doing, and spend a few minutes with each. Many people probably didn’t notice his presence, but his kindness demonstrated his character.

Another regular visitor was my mom’s good friend, Charleen. She was a Eucharistic minister from Mom’s church who brought communion to those who could no longer get to mass. She did it because she is a beautiful person with a kind heart. I spoke to Charleen recently on the phone, and she said something that hit home with me. “When we do things like this (reaching out to others), we get so much back.”

When we observe people acting kind, it influences us. I believe in the “pay it forward” model, and this is my opportunity to make someone’s day a little brighter.

As Mom’s memory declined, it became harder to connect with her. I’d tell her about my adventures at school as an elementary teacher, and she listened carefully, often laughing at the appropriate points in the stories. She liked hearing about my day, but I was still searching for ways to help her connect with the past. I’d often show her family photographs, either scattered in her room or on my phone. There were always smiles and moments when I knew she remembered.

One day it struck me—why don’t I try reading to her? I tried reading engaging articles from the newspaper, short stories, and even her old journals. I could see the sparks, and occasionally I’d see her face show recognition of something from her past. It was not lost on me that we had come full circle and that I was now reading to the person who used to read me stories when I was a child.

While I’m happy in retirement, I miss certain things about teaching. One of the times I miss the most is reading to children. I had hoped to start a reading group at the county library, but Covid halted that goal when the library closed. While the library has since reopened, they are still limiting volunteers.

In the meantime, I decided to reach out to Timber Ridge, the assisted living center where my mom stayed. I go way back with the owner, Larona, as I taught two of her children. Her son was in my first class. I contacted her to see what she thought about me coming in and reading to the residents. Larona, who always has the care of the residents in mind, agreed to let me try.

As many people can probably relate to when trying something new, I had no idea whether this would work or not. Would the residents be able to follow the story? Would they remember it when I only came once or twice a week? One of the first big decisions was choosing something appropriate. I knew I didn’t want to pick something too simplistic that would be condescending, yet I also wanted to choose something they would enjoy with a compelling plot.

One of my goals in retirement is to write books for the age I know best—middle grades. Because I’m trying to learn from other writers, I’ve read many middle-grade (MG) stories in the last couple of years. I chose an excellent book I read recently called Say It Out Loud by Allison Varnes. It’s about a middle school girl named Charlotte with a stuttering problem. She is self-conscious and becomes a target of ridicule for two middle school boys. It is a story of courage and finding one’s voice.

Say It Out Loud by Allison Varnes
Chart of Characters

The whole experience of reading to seniors has gone better than I could have ever imagined. I started with one listener—a delightful lady named Margaret. She won me over on the first day when she began taking notes while I was reading. After I finished reading that day, we talked about the story. When I told her I would be back the following week to read some more, she touched my heart by saying, “You’d better. I made a new friend today.”

Since then, I have usually read twice a week. I always start each session by reminding my listeners what happened in the last part of the story. I also made a chart so that they could see how the characters in the story fit with one another. The attendance varies each time, but I have a core of visitors who often come. One week I had as many as ten people. I walk away each time with a feeling of connection. They’ve become my friends in a short time. When my wife and I were in Montana recently to visit our son, I missed them. I had to do something to let them know that. The first thing that came to mind was to send postcards. I also remembered that some residents liked to do jigsaw puzzles, so picking up a Montana puzzle for them was a no-brainer.

Puzzle by Artist Charles Marion Russell

One of the lessons I learned a long time ago as a teacher was the need to connect with your students. One of the best ways was to share something about myself. I often bring in some photos of significant events from my life to help us get to know each other better. One week I brought in some pictures from our wedding, and another time I brought in a photo of my first class. Today I showed them a photo of my brothers and me, and next week I’m going to bring pictures of our dog.

Perhaps my favorite part of each visit is when I finish reading, and I have time to chat with the residents. They love telling me about their families and what they did earlier in their lives. I’ve enjoyed these visits, and I can also tell it’s important to them.

I had finished writing this article when my wife and I returned from Montana and received the sad news that one of my listeners passed while we were gone. I can’t write this piece without mentioning Shirley. I had met her some years before when her grandson, Logan, was in my second-grade class. She was one of the people I connected with most on my visits to Timber Ridge. I didn’t know her well, but we had bonded in the short time I visited. She shared about having been a skilled seamstress and a lover of crafts. I learned her arthritis made it hard for her to do the things that once gave her so much pleasure. We talked a lot about her family and the pride she felt for each. She told me about her husband and how much she loved him. She spoke in glowing terms of her son, daughter, and son-in-law. Perhaps the most touching of all was when she talked about her grandson. She wanted me to know that while she was proud of his academic accomplishments (high school valedictorian) and college graduate at UC Santa Cruz, she was most proud that he was a good person. He had recently been in town and always made the time to visit her. That meant everything to her.

Shirley’s Family (Logan—Grandson, Jeff—Son-in-law, and Cheryl—Daughter)

While I’m sad that I won’t be able to continue our conversations, I am glad to have gotten to know Shirley. Without taking a risk, I would never have spent this quality time with her.

I think the treatment of the elderly in our society is sometimes shameful. Even as age takes away some physical and mental abilities, they deserve the utmost respect. They should receive the best care. I encourage anyone reading my post never to forget that. If any of these three things happen because of my words, then I will feel my post has accomplished its intended goals:

  1. Don’t fear something because it might not turn out as we hope. That’s not a valid reason because it also might exceed our expectations.
  2. Value every member of society. All lives matter, regardless of age.
  3. Nancy had it right—the greatest gift is the gift of yourself. Please pay it forward.
Shirley with her husband, Andy. (Together Again)

106 thoughts on “The Gift of Yourself (In Memory of Shirley Banks)

  1. It doesn’t take much to be thoughtful about another, a very affordable gift. Thanks for sharing your memories, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 22, 2022 — 7:18 pm

      Well put, Jacqui. Good deeds have a way of multiplying when people think of others and the greater good in society.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Pete what a wonderful things you do keep it up

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor April 22, 2022 — 7:19 pm

      I leave every time feeling in an upbeat mood, Norma. My overall feeling is that many folks are just happy to have someone to talk and laugh with—two things I like to do. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing this. It is inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 22, 2022 — 7:23 pm

      I keep making connections with people from prior experiences in my life. One person is the mother-in-law of one of my former principals. Another man sold my wife and me a couch a long time ago. Today I met a woman who was a retired teacher who I remembered from a teacher workshop we attended. The old saying about what a small world it is comes to mind.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 22, 2022 — 7:25 pm

      Thanks for reading, Becky. Spending time with others is such an easy thing to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How wonderful, Pete! Thanks for giving yourself to others!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 22, 2022 — 7:46 pm

      I enjoy doing it. Reading and spending time with a willing audience makes it fun for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are definitely giving of yourself. I agree, when we give, we always receive as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 22, 2022 — 8:00 pm

      I’ve had some of the most enjoyable conversations and laughs. The elderly are often revered in other cultures, which is one of the reasons I find it despicable when we can’t do the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. An inspiring post, Pete and I agree time is something we should all strive to give its a lovely thing you are doing and it benefits everyone including you 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 22, 2022 — 8:03 pm

      I look forward to it each time. I have my regular attendees and others who show up when they remember. One of the things I find touching is how they look out for each other. Compassion and kindness abound.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well done Pete! Sharing yourself in a kind and thoughtful way is something we should all do more of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:05 am

      People have underutilized talents and expertise that should be shared with others. I wonder how many could be involved in mentorship programs helping the next generation. One of my friends found his niche by serving as a docent in one of our local museums.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You are an inspiration, Pete. To me and many others. This is a wonderful story of giving. I am sorry to hear that Shirley has passed but feel certain her and Andy are together now finishing their own story together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:09 am

      You are a perfect example of someone who can string words together to make us feel emotions. What if you did not share your talent with others?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. i love everything about this, pete. you have made a beautiful spiderweb here of connections from past, present, and even future, as the residents have something to look forward to anticipating your return visits. your presence and attention has made all of the difference for these people who have given to others in their younger days, and now are so happy to receive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:14 am

      Watching the interaction of the residents with each other is particularly touching. They look out for and support one another. If someone comes in a few minutes late, they immediately greet them and move their wheelchairs to include them in the group. It is a model for how we should all act.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How wonderful and welcoming

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m sure the residents love you reading to them. I know from experience that they also enjoy singing along to old songs from their youth. One day, Pete, you’ll be reading to your grandchildren.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:18 am

      Great point about the music, Stevie. I used to see that firsthand when visiting my mom. The room would fill when someone came to perform and do a sing-a-long with the residents. It did my heart good to see people singing and tapping their feet to the music.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, they love singing. My mum used to play the piano in her residential complex and all the other residents would sing. She loved entertaining them and they loved singing along.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. My condolences on the loss of your friend, Pete. This is a lovely tribute to her and to yourself, as you live the advice Nancy gave you. Your experience with your reading group is priceless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:23 am

      Though I didn’t know Shirley well, I got to know her enough to know what a kind person she was. Her daughter and grandson are further proof of that. I saw her lifting up others’ spirits with her encouraging words—a remarkable woman with a big heart.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:25 am

      Thanks, Annette. I enjoy reading your daily messages of positivity.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. What a wonderful post, Pete. Thank you so much. It made me think of my parents. My mom was not able to read for the last 6 years of her life. Whenever I visited her, I always read to her and she loved it. Since none of us lived close, we hired a woman to come in and read to her twice a week. (Apparently, she insisted the woman read from my books, which touched me.) Middle-grade books are good to read to seniors. They love some of the older ones too like Old Yeller, Anne of Green Gables and Rebbeca of Sunnybrook Farm. It may bring back memories. Charles Russell was my dad’s favourite artist and he would have loved that puzzle. I had given him a couple of prints over the years. Shirley sounds like a wonderful person and someone you were pleased to meet. I learned a lot by visiting my mom in the care home during the last years of her life. Keep up the good work of reading to the seniors!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:33 am

      I considered reading one of the classics they might already know. I may try that for my next book. As Stevie mentioned above, it certainly makes sense, given their reactions to familiar music.

      We went to a fabulous museum in Helena, Montana, highlighting much of Russell’s artwork. He had a distinctive style.

      Knowing that your mom wanted to hear your books is better than any written review. That must have touched your soul. Thanks for sharing that story, Darlene.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a wonderful thing you are doing, Pete! I’m always inspired by your thoughtfulness!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:35 am

      While I appreciate your kind words, Margie, I’m not the story here. I’m sharing this story, hoping that someone else may think of a way to help their community.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And that’s what I find inspiring!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I enjoyed reading your story. A teacher always a teacher. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:37 am

      I recognize that quality in many of my teaching colleagues. We retire and look for ways to continue to educate. I consider writing to be my new form of teaching.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Two secrets of your success, then and now: You share your self and you’re willing to take risks. That’s my mantra too, and you inspire me to keep on keeping on–no matter what! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:40 am

      Like you, I take my inspiration from others. Teaching is in our blood, and we have lessons still left to teach. Thanks for doing your part, Marian, to raise the bar for others.

      Like

  16. Beautiful post, Peter! 💖
    Sounds like you have created an enjoyable and stimulating gathering for Timber Ridge residents.
    As I read what you wrote about Timber Ridge, many good memories of your brother’s and my visits to see your mom came back to me.
    I often left there with a smile on my face.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 8:44 am

      Being around them reminds me of the goodness of people. Observing them looking out for one another gives me the best feeling. While their minds and bodies may have declined, their kind natures shine through.

      Like

  17. Good job, Pete! I especially like the charts you (teacher inspired I’m sure) create to help in remembering who’s who in the stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 11:58 am

      I sometimes do that for myself when I’m reading to keep track of the characters. Sometimes authors mention a character, and then they don’t show up again until five chapters later, and I’ve already lost their role in the story.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh and let’s not go down the road of Russian novels!!! Great story lines, awfully hard to keep track of their cast of thousands!!!
        HA!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 12:06 pm

        No, we’re not going there. 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  18. A beautiful tribute to Shirley, Pete. Good on you for taking an interest in your senior class.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 12:05 pm

      It’s one of the best parts of my week. I keep meeting people I’ve met at some other point in my life.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Thanks so much to you and Shirley for reminding us that sharing “the gift of ourself” is one of the best gifts we can ever give to everyone we meet! Reading to young and old is one that I love to share… ❤ xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 23, 2022 — 3:43 pm

      I forgot how much I like reading aloud to an audience and making the characters sound like I imagine the author intended. Thank you, Bette!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too! I just love it and take every opportunity to read aloud! 💞 Happy Reading, Pete…Reading Rocks!

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Ohhh sending love to Shirley wherever she is, and I’m sorry for this bittersweet loss. I also appreciate you making a point about the importance of properly caring for the elderly. My mother was in a nursing home before she passed and there would be times when we would visit her and see how poorly she had been treated or how she had been neglected. And she was in one of the better homes! It was so painful and infuriating to witness this, and we felt so powerless about it. All we could do was visit often and shower her with love and affection when we saw her. And get angry with people who mistreated her, which I did! 🤣😬 I get that it’s a systemic problem but I don’t really care the cause, we should be doing better. People who have lived their entire lives deserve to be truly cared for with as much love as possible. These folks are lucky to have your kind visits now, and you’re 💯 making a difference, I know this. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 24, 2022 — 9:04 am

      Like any profession, some care workers are good at their job, and others should probably do something else. Many residents become challenging to deal with, frustrated by their loss of independence and failing bodies. It requires an enormous amount of patience. I’m sure it’s hard for the care workers not to take some of the insensitive comments from the residents personally. My advice to anyone who has placed a loved one in a care facility would be to try and get to know the care workers and be an outspoken advocate for your family member.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Pete, I appreciate the advice although I didn’t exactly ask for it. And I do think it’s important to be sensitive when offering unsolicited advice, because no one really knows the full story of anyone’s situation. For instance, a week before my mother passed, the care worker was force feeding my mother to the point of vomiting, as I was standing there in the room. Yes, I was incredibly angry and horrified, but was never rude or mean to any worker. And instead I simply asked her to leave so I could take over feeding my mother. Anyway, it sounds like you’re doing great work as always, and I’m doing my best.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor April 24, 2022 — 2:16 pm

        I’m sorry for not articulating my thoughts better. I can see why you took it personally. My response was meant to be to everyone in general terms and not directed at you. I agree entirely with offering unsolicited advice. As you articulated, I would have no way of knowing the background information of what happened, and I’m sure you had a right to be angry. I’m sorry for not expressing my thoughts better, and you thought I was attacking your character or actions. Please accept my apology, Libby.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks so much Pete, I so appreciate this response. Of course and absolutely I accept your apology, and really value your shares. All is well and I hope you have a beautiful Sunday 🌸 🌱 🌞

        Liked by 1 person

      4. petespringerauthor April 24, 2022 — 2:53 pm

        😊

        Liked by 1 person

  21. My goodness, this post is jam packed with all that is most important. It’s Humanity 101, laced with bravery and connections. I so enjoyed hearing about your reading aloud to seniors! Way to go, Pete. You have given these residents a great gift, and in turn they have ‘filled you up’. God Bless Shirley. Thank heavens you had some time with her before she passed. Sending cards, bringing them a puzzle from Montana, telling stories and showing pictures… just wonderful! I look forward to reading aloud at our local retirement home, after I retire. I can’t imagine anything better than spending my days reading both to children and seniors. I want to pay it forward. Best to you, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 24, 2022 — 9:10 am

      It’s turned out much better than I could have imagined, Jennie. I’ve found that we’ve either crossed paths before or that I know someone from their lives in a roundabout way. Learning about their histories and what they did during their careers is particularly fascinating. I can totally see you enriching the lives of children and seniors.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is as good as it gets! All those connections, learning about history, on and on. I can’t wait to do this when I retire. I think (hope) my experience will be similar. Your excitement shines through, loud and clear!

        Liked by 1 person

  22. A wonderful venture of giving that you have been on, Pete. For a time, my Giant Schnauzer Jackie and I visited a senior center as part of a program called “Pets on Wheels.” It was available in select centers that participated. Unfortunately, that one stopped for reasons I don’t recall now. I’m a senior myself now but far from ready to live anywhere other than our dream house.
    Keep up the good work, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 24, 2022 — 2:33 pm

      Good to hear from you, John, and to learn of the Pets on Wheels program. I had not heard of it before, but I like the idea of using pets as therapy animals. I assume the policy is the same at Timber Ridge as it used to be when my mom stayed at the other branch, but they allowed people to keep their pets there.

      By the way, I’m heading out the first two weeks of May on a trip, but then I will have some time to read your projects and give you some feedback. I haven’t forgotten, but I’m in one of these crazy periods where I’m busy with traveling and other pressing needs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean Pete!

        Liked by 1 person

  23. I think you’re one of His angels, Pete. You have the kindest heart ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 24, 2022 — 2:38 pm

      I’m just following the cues of the role models I’ve had in my life. I encourage others to make time for the causes that are important to them. Acts of charity can have a far-reaching effect and possibly get others to act.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. This was such a heart-warming post. It just made me feel good, and I thank you, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 24, 2022 — 2:45 pm

      Having taught Shirley’s grandson and knowing her daughter, I’m not surprised she was such a caring individual. I feel grateful to have had many wonderful conversations with Shirley in the past several weeks. She was a remarkable woman.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It sounds as though Shirley died knowing she was loved and appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

  25. A lovely tribute to Shirley, Pete, and how sweet of you to read and connect with people who often feel isolated. Reading is a perfect way to break the ice, but I’ll bet they love getting to know you personally. My parents are in independent/assisted living and the reading groups are such a delight, especially for my mom who is blind. And MG books would be perfect since memories aren’t all they used to be. You are a star. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 24, 2022 — 2:51 pm

      Seniors are no different than the rest of us—they just want someone to care. They always thank me for coming and reading to them. That’s reward enough for me. I’m getting plenty out of this experience. I hope to bring in a former student or two to read with me at some point. My mind is always thinking about ways to enhance the experience more, and having two readers would make the dialogue scenes come alive even more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, how fun! That would be wonder to get another person to read with you.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. What an incredible tribute to Shirley. Pete, your big heart touches me. To take the time to brighten someone’s day is so special. Thank you for all you do!

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor April 24, 2022 — 4:48 pm

      I’ve got the time, so why not make someone’s day a little better? In a short time, I feel close to many of the residents. One person I met is the daughter-in-law of one of my former principals. Small world, indeed.

      Like

  27. What a very thought-provoking post, Pete – it’s so sad to hear about Shirley, but you obviously brightened her life very much. You’re right, engaging with others always brings us so many rewards. Toni

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 25, 2022 — 6:06 am

      After I finish reading each time, one of the people usually will share a memory that the story made them think about. One of the things I think is impressive is how they can recall things from their long-term memories.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. That’s a beautiful story, Pete, and it tells us so much about you and your generous heart. Reading to the older folk is such a wonderful thing to do, and I think the chart of characters was inspired. I’m sorry that you lost one of your regular group, but she gave you so much in return for your time. I agree with Shirley about the gift of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 25, 2022 — 6:12 am

      One of the qualities that I saw in Shirley was her compassionate nature. If someone came in late, she was the type of person who would move over so that person could be included in the group.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. You can’t go wrong when you get the opportunity to help other people do something that you like to do. As a former teacher I’m sure reading out loud comes naturally to you. I’m glad you met Shirley and that she influenced you in a positive way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 25, 2022 — 1:06 pm

      I forgot how much I missed reading aloud to an audience. It’s like what people always say about riding a bike. You never forget how to try and get into the author’s head and imagine how they intended the characters to sound.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Very touching story, Pete. And a wonderful contribution you’re making to the lives of those Seniors. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 25, 2022 — 6:42 pm

      Thanks, Steve. Just trying to do my part.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re doing it well!

        Liked by 1 person

  31. What a wonderful thing to do reading to the seniors, Pete. It’s okay if they don’t remember what you read last time. It’s more important you’re there at the time of reading to them. Of course, you know their long-term memories are better than the short-term. They have lots of stories to tell you if you have time to listen. Sorry that one of your listeners passed while you were away. Our dear neighbor passed away while we were on vacation. Then, a friend’s father was still playing golf last Thursday but died yesterday. It’s sad that they get so fragile in their old age.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 26, 2022 — 8:00 pm

      Shirley’s passing was sad, but I know she had a great life. I keep thinking about how important it is to embrace new challenges and activities. If I didn’t volunteer, I wouldn’t have had that precious time with the seniors. I leave each time upbeat, and I’m enjoying my small core of listeners—an amazing and rewarding experience!

      Like

  32. Aww, what a lovely message, and a great legacy to leave behind. Shirley may have passed, but her wisdom lives on, thanks to you, and to whoever takes on the torch.

    It really does put things in perspective, the thought of your ‘self’ being enough for the world. But that means we also need to learn how to light our own candles before we light others’. Lovely thoughts to have in the morning. Thanks for this, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 27, 2022 — 4:59 pm

      Carpe diem—seize the day! I wish I would have figured this out when I was in high school, but that’s what learning is all about. Better late than never. Always good to hear from you, Stuart.

      Like

  33. 😦 This was such a beautiful post dedicated to a beautiful soul.. I am so happy that you got to know and spend time with Shirley, I am certain you made a huge difference in her life and clearly, her for you.

    I love your idea of reading to the residents and taking the extra time to think of stories suitable for their entertainment.. You had an idea, you didn’t know if it would work or not but you tried anyway… and you succeeded! It just goes to show how thoughtful and kind you are, Pete! Always thinking of others! I also love that you have connections with everyone you come in to contact with it seems- you are definitely not a person people would forget! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 27, 2022 — 8:12 pm

      I appreciate your kind words, BB. I was shocked by Shirley’s sudden passing, but I feel so thankful that we connected over the last few weeks of her life. If I hadn’t volunteered, I wouldn’t have had those wonderful moments—a reminder of how little things matter. In the short time I spent with her, I enjoyed all our conversations. She absolutely glowed when she talked about her grandson, Logan. I remember him as one of the brightest kids I ever taught. It’s funny to teach a seven-year-old and realize that he would someday become far more intelligent than me. I can verify from talking to him that he is a humble, bright, kind, and respectful young man.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. HI Pete, this is a lovely post. It is wonderful to know you are reading to the elderly in a care home. I have always made a special effort to connect with elderly people and try to engage with them. I agree that some of the elderly are very neglected by modern youth. The forget that they will also be old one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 28, 2022 — 8:26 am

      With advancements in modern medicine, people are living longer. The thing I worry about is that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will force people to continue to need expensive health care for more extended periods of their lives.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that is a good point. Some people make no attempt to read and grow their minds as they get older and that aids their mental decline. The elderly people you’ve mentioned seem quite mentally active.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor April 28, 2022 — 5:57 pm

        There is a vast difference in their cognitive abilities. There are a few who I don’t think are following the plot (but I guess they still enjoy listening to someone read) and others who are with me the entire time. One lady references conversations we’ve had from several weeks ago.

        Liked by 1 person

  35. I can’t tell you Pete how much I appreciate your reading suggestion. I literally had a conversation with my husband 2 weeks ago after we had been sitting with my mom. I told him that I found it difficult to carry on a one-sided conversation with her; to keep it going. Now, I can’t wait to find something to read to her for my next visit. It’s perfect. I’m also so glad for you that you’ve started a rewarding (for you and the residents) reading program with your mom’s assisted living home. I admire that “paying it forward” a lot. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 28, 2022 — 6:30 pm

      One of the ladies was in the hospital for a bit, and I sure worried about her. I have three regulars who show up nearly every time and a handful of others who are hit and miss. We’re almost finished with the first book. I think that was about the right level for my group. It’s tricky finding the right level since they’re all at different cognitive levels.

      Like

  36. A lovely post Pete and you are bringing the outside world into what can become very enclosed and institutionalised. I am sure your visits are much looked forward to… and I am sure you get a great deal back in return..xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 28, 2022 — 6:32 pm

      Absolutely! They’re happy to see me, but I feel the same way. I read to them tomorrow, but I’ll be on the road for two weeks after that. We can do better in our treatment of the elderly.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. A loving tribute to Shirley, Pete and I am sure she and Andy are side by side on the porch together smiling out again. The loving grace you flow to others in reading aloud and listening to their stories is felt through your words here. It is a gift to broaden their horizons at this stage of their lives and to flow in gentle reminders of what they once did. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 29, 2022 — 7:11 am

      It is remarkable to listen to the stories they remember from their past. The brain is an amazing instrument as it’s fascinating to see how well these long-term memories are stored.

      Liked by 1 person

  38. You are such a generous and kind soul Pete. Often seniors get the shaft in society from so many angles. If you can make people smile and give them a bit of your time it indeed can make the world of difference to them. Sad about Shirley, but a lovely tribute. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 29, 2022 — 4:02 pm

      Just saw my group of four today. I’m traveling for the next couple of weeks and will miss them. Just like when I was teaching, I have quickly bonded with my group and enjoy spending time with them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As I know they appreciate you. Safe travels Pete. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  39. Thank you for sharing. Nothing as valuable as a little kindness. Glad you found the courage to do this. It’s so worthy to help others, particularly the elderly who are often neglected. What we all have to remember is kindness given is often returned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor April 30, 2022 — 2:46 pm

      Thanks, Marje. I’m traveling for the next couple of weeks and will miss reading to them. I picked up some greeting cards today to send to them while I’m gone. They are so appreciative, and I look forward to reading and chatting with them each time. It reminds me that everyone just wants to feel cared for.

      Like

      1. Yes so true, Pete. Sounds like you are doing a grand job. Bless you! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  40. I’ve missed your writing Pete and I LOVE that you make such thoughtful observations about people, kindness, and life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor May 29, 2022 — 3:05 pm

      It was quite a shock when Shirley passed. She is part of one of the nicest families I ever taught.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t even imagine ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

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