Thursday, May 21, 2009
post card heaven
I've been volunteering for two years at the senior center that is associated with my church. I first got involved as something to do with the children during the summer and a way to have the children have a connection to seniors as we live so far from grandparents. I mean every child needs an older adult fussing at them to "slow down!" "watch where you're going."....
So, every Monday I show up and either sit at the front desk taking money for the lunch, sometimes assist the cooks in the kitchen or mostly just walk around and chat with seniors (this is something I'm very good at doing.)
Needless to say the place has completely grown on me. I merely serve them lunch but I'm the one who has 50 new friends. I became very fond of a distinguished gentleman in his 90's, always wearing a blazer and enters the center wearing a baret - very fetching. He speaks with a thick European accent, which I found out later was German from growing up in Austria. He was a confirmed bachelor and has only one living friend left who lives in L.A. I always hear about her, she used to work for the LA Times and they talk twice a week. He is always bringing clippings from papers, books to share and ready for a political debate, always. He was volunteering for Hilary's campaign and met her at the age of 90.
A year ago he'd come to the center and tell me how he could no longer take the bus because he'd fallen twice trying to get off. He was walking the 8 up-hill blocks to get the center. When I left for my summer in VA, he said he'd no longer be able to come, he was unable to step off of curbs so I immediately offered to drive him to/from the center. I always feel badly as he I'm always in a rush, as I'm late picking up kids from school but all the same, we've become friends. He even called me on Christmas in VA to with me merry merry.
He's wanted to thank me some how for what I do. He offered me his museum post-card collection for the children. He's spend over 30 year collecting images of painting/sculptures from museums around the world. They span entire art history from the cave paintings from Lasceaux to modern 20th century art. My first thought is, "where am I going to store these things in my apartment? (basically 10 card folder, over 3,000 images.) But I said okay, I'll take them.
Monday was the day I arranged to pick them up. He was so excited, he was waiting for me in the lobby of his building. It took me four trips to get them all. He has an extra spring to his step. His apartment is frozen in time, it harkens back to the 60's, sparcely furnished with tapestry clothes, 60's pottery, art prints on the wall. He was so pleased with our effort.
When I picked up the children they were so excited to see the boxes piled around the car. Eva grabbed two and spent the entire ride home looking at images. She would ooo and ahh about what she was seeing. There was an odor in the car, a mix of dust and an old person smell. When we got in to the garage she was trying to get out of the car - she would not put down a box and was determined to carry it upstairs. I let her get two out of the car, she had to make two trips. For a long time she would look a the images. After dinner I would read to them the title and artist from the back.
The next day when we arrived home from school, Art was parked across the driveway so I parked across the street. The children wanted all the boxes in the house against my protests that I'd not created the proper space for them yet. They loved that I looked for traffic and let them run back and forth across the street with out me, shuttling the heavy boxes up the stairs. They now rest under the Chinese chest in the living room. I want to put them on a large bookshelf some day. It is precious watching them leaf through the boxes.
Posted by Jan at 7:11 PM