The Dreaded Senior Center
by a Bossy & Domineering Daughter
’ve often heard these replies when I’ve asked someone if they go to their local Senior Center, “It’s not my thing,” or “We’re not ready for that yet.”
It makes me want to ask, “Is eating a good meal in the company of friends not your thing?” “Are you not able to talk or laugh?” “Are dancing, playing cards, or shooting pool not your thing?”
This is how the conversation went with my mother, “Mom, what do you think about checking out the Senior Center?”
Mom, “I don’t want to go where there are a bunch of old people sitting around complaining about their ailments!”
Me, “Well, I can understand that, however, I believe they serve lunch and play pinochle and are a pretty active bunch. You used to play pinochle…”
Mom, “That was years ago. I don’t remember how to play anymore.”
Me, “Maybe if you watched a game, it would come back to you.”
Mom, “I’m not interested! Besides, I have trouble hearing in a group with my hearing aids, and I just don’t want to go!”
Me, “All we have to do is go one time for lunch. I’ll go with you. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to go back.”
Mom, “I still don’t want to go at all!”
Me, “Mom! It’s lunch for Heaven’s sake! It won’t kill us! I’m going to find out their hours and we’re going!”
At this point, I received a thoroughly vicious tongue-lashing about how she “…lived with a stubborn, domineering man all those years, and now I live with a stubborn, domineering daughter!” To which I replied, “That’s right, I am. But we’re going anyway even if I have to drag you there kicking and screaming!” and I left the room, determined to live up to my new found reputation.
Later, I contacted the Senior Center and asked, “If I bring Mom, could she watch pinochle and see if she remembers how to play?” The reply, “No problem! Thursday is our largest attendance, that would be a good day.”
So, we go to lunch and Mom sees several things: the meal is excellent; everybody is friendly and welcoming to both of us; everyone was engaged in conversation, laughing and having a good time; the people there ranged widely in age; they were healthy, and only a few had physical challenges.
Okay, meal over, time for pinochle. I introduced Mom to the lady organizing it and asked about how long it would be. She said, “About an hour” at which point I said to Mom, “Okay, I’ll be back!” Just as I spun on my heels to walk out the door, I saw Mom’s face flash a momentary look of terror resembling a toddler being left on the first day of kindergarten. She was pitiful, but I walked out that door!
I returned promptly in an hour and there she was, playing cards like a pro, laughing and obviously enjoying herself. I was told Mom picked it up and remembered how to play with no problem.
From that day on, we came to town NO MATTER WHAT! Twice a week I dropped Mom off for lunch and pinochle. I witnessed Mom’s reading speed rebound; she was practically devouring books from the newfound bookstore. Her appetite was good, the color back in her cheeks. In essence, Mom was “Mom” again; no longer fading, withdrawn and depressed. I can’t stress enough the dramatic changes in my mother; the Senior Center restored my mother’s’ emotional and physical well-being, raised her self-esteem, and gave her purpose — enjoying life, something that was not really happening before. Go! Take a loved one. You won’t regret it.