More than Silver Sneakers

Last week, I wrote about speaking to business leaders in Columbus about the YMCA, but I have a lot more to say about the Y. If you’re like me, when you think of the Y, you think of the pool, basketball courts, racket ball, yoga, Zoomba, pre-school tumbling, weight machines, and a walking track. But there’s so much more that we, the affluent middle class never have had to think about.

As I watched the video and listened to the accompanying speakers, I learned that the Y extends its services way beyond the the traditional activities.

For instance, a young black man spoke eloquently about his activities as a Y volunteer. He goes to playgrounds at recess times and engages the kids in constructive and organized games. Too often, these kids, without complete supervision, can get into trouble, such as fighting or throwing rocks at passing cars. This young man has a technique for getting their attention and diverting it to more acceptable behavior. Instead of yelling at them to stop whatever misbehavior they are engaged in, he holds out his hands and beckons them to come and “have a conversation” with them. As he explained to us, having a conversation is much more effective.

Another story was about a young woman whose home life was a struggle every day. With no husband to help with the young children, little money, and a low-paying job, coordinating her mornings and evenings with job and school schedules was a challenge, and the Y was there to help. Her children went to the Y in the morning as their mother left on the bus to work, and stayed their until their own bus to school arrived. And in the afternoons, they went to the Y until their mother came to collect them. These kids were not left at home by themselves to get into trouble or fall prey to other kids in the neighborhood or worse. In fact, in some cases, volunteers escorted the kids to their homes in dangerous neighborhoods. We who live behind our white picket fences with two cars in the driveway rarely see or understand these situations, but the Y is very much aware and has a corps of volunteers to insure the safety and wellbeing of all our children.

I spoke as a member of the Silver Sneakers set, who have the opportunity to recover from surgeries or debilitating conditions, to keep fit and healthy, or just have something to do in what could be an empty life after retirement. The name, YMCA encompasses much more than I ever knew. I rarely get sucked into a fund-raiser event by writing a check on the spot, but this time I did. The Y is good to me, and while my check isn’t very big, it’s one way I can say thank-you.

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Breakfast with 200 of my Closest Friends at the Y

mary4Last year about this time, I was asked to speak at a fund-raiser kickoff breakfast for the Gahanna Y. I had a wonderful time using my Toastmasters skills and entertaining my audience with silly jokes like, “I must be the poster child for Silver Sneakers.” My audience members were big wigs at the Y and the community business leaders of Gahanna, people who could be inspired to donate big bucks for the Y. They must have enjoyed it, because I was invited this year to speak to even bigger wigs and business leaders from all over Columbus. About 200 people were gathered at an exclusive restaurant for the gourmet breakfast and the hour-long presentation. Featured were several speakers and a video that was broken into clips to show what the next speaker would be promoting. Now you’ve probably guessed that I was in the video and that I got to speak about my experience at the Y as part of their “Diversability” program. BTW, as coined words go, this one is a whole lot better than some others I’ve heard. Anyway, it was really fun to be part of a well-produced video, part of which I shall present to you. After my part of the video was shown, I gave a brief overview of the events leading up to my becoming a huge fan of the Gahanna Y.

I used to never consider myself an athlete, but after I became involved with Ski for Light and learned to ski at the age of 41, I found myself joining my cross country ski friends in other athletic endeavors, such as tandem cycling for long distances, taking longer walks, hiking, and even running. As I told my audience today, one of the highlights of my life was running in The Race for the Cure with my daughter on her 26th birthday. I told them about my friends at church who graciously offered to take me to the Y and help me with the weight machines. It was amazing to me how much I enjoyed working out. In fact, I came to the discovery that OMG, I was becoming a gym rat. And I finished up by telling them how much I enjoyed the pool, although I did admit that the hot tub was my “favorite exercise machine.” I told them how Dora watches my every move from the sidelines while I’m in the pool and how she knows my routine well. I don’t even have to give her the commands to the next place to go.She knows that after swimming, we head directly to the hot tub. I complimented the staff, especially the gals at the front desk who make me feel like a “rock star” each time I come in, and at the end of my session, as I wait for my ride with The Red Cross, I am usually handed a cup of coffee fixed just the way I like it.. Everybody is always very nice, not only to me but to each other. We all know that it’s important to improve our lives, and we all know that the best place to do it is at the Gahanna Y.

Enjoy the video.

 

First 250 words of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living, a Daughter’s Memoir”

Prologue

When the phone rang at 4:00 on that Friday afternoon, I thought, “What now? What else could go wrong?” I had come home to make dinner, after five days of unpacking box after box of too much stuff and too many things that my mother insisted on bringing. Kara was still at the assisted living home, helping her grandmother get settled. I thought she was going to tell me that she had done all she could do, and was at the end of her rope. But what I heard in the background was the reason for the call.

My daughter’s voice was tinged with weariness and cautious hope. “Listen to this, Mom,” she said. Someone was playing the piano. I recognized her style immediately. It was my mother, playing “Stardust,” my father’s favorite. This was my mother, playing the piano, as in happier times.

We didn’t speak for a full minute, as we listened and choked back tears. After losing the battle for her independence, after having her life turned inside out, after being forced to face institutional living, Mom finally relaxed and found what would soothe her sense of loss, her music. Several other residents stopped in to ask who was playing the piano so beautifully, and my mom was finally in her element. The new girl in town was making music for her neighbors.

As I heard the familiar melodies, “The Old Rugged Cross,” “In the Garden,“ “Sentimental Journey,“ I pictured those ninety-six-year-old arthritic hands, finding their way through the chords with the same precision and ease as of the past 80 years.

To read the whole story, you’ll need to buy the book at

dldbooks.com/maryhiland/

Half Price Sale at Smashwords

Who knew that the hardest part of publishing a book was not writing it but selling it? I didn’t. But I’m learning. At first, it was fun, doing book-signings, making a youtube video, and telling you about it here. Now that the flurry of activity is slowing, I’m settling down to more tedious but none-the-less important means of getting the word out about my book, “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living,” a daughter’s Memoire.”

If you haven’t bought it yet, because you’re waiting for it to show up at your local library, or you’re waiting for your sister-in-law to let you borrow it, here’s some good news for you.

You can buy my book in ebook form for half price, this week only. Considering that these ebooks are very inexpensive in the first place, you can buy it for practically nothing, since I’ve cut the price in half, this week only. The sale ends at midnight on Saturday, March 10.

Go to

dldbooks.com/maryhiland/

to get the book for 50% off!

In case you’ve missed my other posts about the book, here’s a 35-word synopsis.

Moving Mom into assisted living is often traumatic. When the only adult child is blind and has the full responsibility, the story is intriguing, informative, and relevant to anyone with aging parents..

If you’ve already bought my book, thank you. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Now please tell your sister-in-law about this sale.