The gang that I work with at the Santa Clara Seniors’ Center is equally charming. There are fun folks in the volunteer pool, as well as the clientele that uses the facility. I’ll start by describing some of my fellow volunteers. The first one that comes to mind is Manny.
I work with him on both Tuesdays (11-2) and Fridays (10-12). He is a 75 yr old fellow that looks something like Col Sanders with a leather vest. He rides a motorcycle whenever the weather allows. He is my fellow type 2 diabetic, so we commiserate when someone brings in candy and leaves it on our registration table. He doesn’t mind that I sing along with the radio track that plays constantly in the gym, and is almost all seventies music! He is married to his second wife, has several kids that are ‘about your age’. He also has owns several chihuahuas that he adores, a half dozen stray cats that ‘just showed up’, and he admits to getting upset when one of the ads fundraising for the SPCA that shows animals being abused and tortured. He takes advantage of the fact that the Humane Societies down here will spay/neuter your cat for free, especially if it is a stray. They do the surgery, then drop it off at your house the next day, no charge.
He also takes advantage of the lunch program run at the center: anyone age 65 or more gets a nutritious (usually cooked) lunch on weekdays for a minimal charge. He brings his lunch tray back to the gym and immediately gives me the carton of milk from it, being as he is lactose intolerant. The remaining cost is covered by the city of Santa Clara.
Another great perk here is that membership at the gym is FREE for seniors, age 50 and over. Most of the other cities in the bay area charge for their recreation programs, but not here. This is just one of many reasons why we have decided that we’re going to stay in this area if we decide to buy a house at some point in the future.
Another person that I really enjoy my volunteer shifts with is Joan. She lost an arm when a small child, but has managed quite nicely for all of her 87 years! She married, and raised 5 kids, most of whom graduated from university. She divorced her useless husband early on, and went to work as a bookkeeper for a builder to support the family. She is an amazing person! Her kids, and many grandkids adore her, and call her Susu. She is more than happy to babysit whenever she gets the chance, and she loves to trade recipes with me. I still get Canadian Living magazines, thanks to a long standing subscription from Anna, and I often pass them on to Joan. I work with her on Thursdays, from noon to 2pm. Tomorrow, I will be taking her in another bag of large navel oranges, from our generous tree.
Another friendly soul who is a custodian at the gym is Don. Another type 2 diabetic, he likes to flirt with the senior ladies, but knows that some of them are inclined to look down on him. He remains unconcerned, especially when they threaten him if he has to kick them out at the end of the day. He’s a big fellow, and could probably put most of them over his shoulder and toss them out if need be!
There are several clients that are worthy of mention, too! One that I wish you could meet, even through this blog, no longer visits. His name is John, a retired civil engineer that used to visit a couple times each week for the swimming class. Unfortunately, the last time he was here he started having TIA’s, or mini strokes. He is in his 90’s, but isn’t allowed to attend class any more. He does apparently drop by occasionally for the lunch program, but I haven’t seen him in a long time. He used to present himself to the registration desk with the announcement, “You don’t know me, but….”. Of COURSE we knew him, how could we forget him? But we began to be unsure of his recognition of us, then the TIA’s started, and it was history.
There is also Maria, an unforgettable woman about my age, She is short chubby, and audacious. She loves sequins, tight tee shirts, and stretchy leggings. Her short hair is always spiked heavily with gel, and sometimes sparkles as well. Joan tells me that Maria isn’t the happy joker she pretends to be, that in fact she has had a hard life of late. No details were forthcoming. We tease Don periodically that he is going to have to get tough with Maria, since she is always the last one out of the ladies change room. Everyone is supposed to be out of there by 2pm so he can clean and sanitize it, but he seems willing to wait for Maria to make her grand exit. And grand it is, as she trots out pulling her rolling bag and batting her enormous eyelashes at Don. He shakes his head as she passes by, with a quiet amused shrug. Ah, Maria!