Linda Alessi: Volunteering is a gift to myself

Linda Alessi • Updated Sep 15, 2018 at 5:00 PM

Not so long ago, I wrote...

I have come to a standstill in my writing. My mind is wandering and it is going in several different directions. Some say it is writer’s block, others a lack of imagination. Bear with me readers I shall do my best and we will see where it goes.

This, I know, this aging process is not for weaklings. This seventh decade will soon be coming to an end and I can hardly recognize myself.  I look in the mirror and I am jolted. I see an image resembling my sister, Edith, who was 16 years my senior. My hair is whiter, my complexion is changed and extra pounds do not seem to add appeal to the apparition I see reflecting back at me.

The day starts as usual with getting out of bed hoping all the parts are going work for another day. I am eager to eat breakfast, but not before the lineup of pills neatly in a row wait for me like little soldiers ready for battle. There are all kinds, one for blood pressure, one for water retention, vitamins with the letters starting from A to Z all to be part of my pre-breakfast encounter. Unfortunately there is no little pill that will make me look like me and not my older sister.  

I go on with the day and move more slowly until the fuel injection makes the motor start running in a more efficient manner. I still manage to complete my household chores, cleaning the apartment, cooking and more importantly continue in my routine of volunteer duties. I am still spending time at Christus Saint Vincent Hospital in the cancer treatment center. There, I seem to forget my own inconsequential complaints when I am attending to others who are so much in need of support and help.

My weekly time donating my efforts to attend to the children who come to Gerard’s house who are grieving the loss of a parent or siblings gives me the lift I need.  Spending the time with them restores my energy as we play and work through feelings of sadness regarding the losses. There are several groups of children coming to this safe haven.  My particular group is for children aged three to seven to find a safe place to share, remember and honor their loved ones.  

Among my other experiences as a volunteer is doing some computer input at the Santo Nino Regional Catholic School.  Here amidst the children I see the innocence and dreams of the youngsters and it brings me back but also allows me to look forward with hope for the future.

On Tuesday, I look forward to a pleasant evening of sharing my culinary talents with a lovely couple and their son who come to dinner and a friendly game of hand and foot. We play partners and I am happy to say I have won no less than twice in several months. I guess it is the company, playing the game and eating that counts, but it is also more fun when you win.

I mentioned at the start that I am going in several directions, so you note I am rambling on. This Saturday morning, we went to the Lensic theater – part of our routine for the opera season simulcast coming from the New York Met – to see Zeigfried, part of the ring series of Wagner’s operas. This is a new experience for me, and I was looking forward to see the second one. My first was Die Walkure, and it was thrilling. Our little opera group meets for breakfast at the Burro Alley Café on San Francisco Street and our pre-opera discussion and chatter is usually animated. 

This morning, as we were ordering our breakfast, the lights went out in Santa Fe.  Fortunately, the café has gas burners and we were able to enjoy our meal, albeit in the dark, as the snow began to fall, and the electricity in the entire area went off. We eagerly waited to hear if the performance at the Lensic would be getting the transmission from New York. The performance was scheduled for 10 a.m. Well, no lights, no performance and a reschedule would be announced at a later date.

I was pleasantly surprised to come back home to find I had electricity and so I could put these scrambled notes and inform you of my eclectic schedule. Now you know what I do and how I function as a senior citizen.

Wait a minute. What am I complaining about? It is not so bad. I can still write what I think and enjoy what I do even if I have to do it at a slower pace. Tomorrow is another day, and I still look forward to many tomorrows in my time.

Linda Alessi is a weekly columnist for The Lebanon Democrat.

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