When Encounter. first announced that they were going to visit Sienna Nursing Home I was very excited to participate. For me, I have never been awkward around or scared of old people, due to the fact that I have grown up with my grandpa always being around. When I was younger he would take me to Mass with him him every Tuesday morning and introduce me to all his church friends who, in a way, became my extended grandparents. They watched me grow up.
Although I had this background of being around and talking to older people it always takes some time to adjust to it. It may sound weird because they are people too, but from first hand experience, it can be extremely hard to carry a conversation with them. In a way, old people can be very intimidating. When Mrs. Rankin told us to go into the main room to get some of the residents to join us in games we all immediately drew to the walls. No one wanted to be the first person to go ask. There was something awkward about it, which I recognize is silly, but I was still hugging the wall. Once a couple kids started asking it was easier to build up the courage and tap some of them on the shoulders to ask.
Once the games started it all became familiar to me and I met a woman named Annie. Annie was one of the first ladies we played basketball with and I immediately fell in love with her. She had no problem telling me about her husband and son and their life in Smithfield. I couldn't help but smile when I saw her face light up as she talked about what she used to do as a young women.
What I find fascinating about talking to older folks is their experience of history. When I talk to my peers we can relate to the same things but with older people, there is something so educational about it. I know that may sound really nerdy but I found out that once you realize this person was once a teen too, it's really easy to relate to them. I can read about what the teens were like back in the 50's all I want, but nothing beats asking someone who actually LIVED in that time who can tell me all about it like it was yesterday. Annie loved telling me about the church she got married in and how her sister was married there too. She told me about the kind of dancing she liked to do and how she only had one son, Eugene, who was named after her husband. She used to work at The Hub and couldn't remember any of her hobbies. Although she showed early stages of dementia it only made her all the more sweet and a joy to talk to.