It was a hot July day. I did not know what to expect. I thought I wanted to volunteer, but I was having second thoughts about spending my afternoon in a convalescent home. Turning back was a thought, but it was too late, so I signed in and headed toward the recreation room.
When I arrived, there were some people sitting around, but no residents. I started talking to a girl who asked me why I was volunteering. I said for something to do over the summer, and asked her the same question, expecting a similar reply. But she told me that this was her community service as ordered by the courts. Now I was sure that I was the only person volunteering who had never spent time in jail. I wanted to go home.
Eventually those in charge appeared and brought me upstairs to get some of the residents. What had possessed me to do this? I listened to my instructions and then went to get some people to take downstairs to bowl. I picked up my aged cargo and nervously pushed the wheelchair down the hall and into the elevator. I was worried the fragile bones of my passenger were going to shatter if I hit a bump too hard. Once bowling started, my job was to pick up the plastic pins as the old folks, sitting in their wheelchairs, struggled with all their might to roll a two-pound ball five feet down the floor to its target. A few of them could barely muster enough strength. This bowling group was probably the healthiest people in the home, too.
By the end of the evening, I was not having as much of a problem as when I first got there. Some of the residents were talking to me, and I was not as nervous pushing the wheelchairs around. I went back the next week and still go once a week. I am actually rather enjoying it now. Some of the old folks are interesting and it is a good feeling helping them. I am glad that I did not turn around that hot July day. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.