My Turn: A most delicious lunch

  • Blatchford Claire—Blatchford Claire

Sunday, March 04, 2018

That we had this most delicious lunch was set in motion, really, about four years ago.

My husband, Ed, and I were crossing Main Street in Greenfield. We were far from the cross walk and considered ourselves quick enough not to have to walk to the end of the block to cross there. Quick enough, maybe, yet as we stepped onto the sidewalk, I noticed a couple coming toward us. He was clearly older and she had short, grey hair, like the grey hair prominent among the senior ladies I often passed when going into the YMCA to swim laps. I’d always smiled to them on their way out, and considered them in a category by themselves. The way I think of teens ambling their way down the middle of the sidewalk as one category, mothers pushing their young children in strollers as another, grown-up guys in work boots with their coffees-to-go in yet another, and so on.

For a second, I wondered if the grey-haired woman moving toward us was one of the YMCA ladies. Then, shocked, I realized the couple was us! We were meeting our reflection in a storefront window. Yes, there was Ed. And my hair — my hair is definitely no longer blonde. How could I have missed noticing that? Exactly when had I slipped out of the middle-age category into THIS?

My sister-in-law, Judy, laughed and nodded when I described that moment to her recently. “There are A LOT of us everywhere! And there are going to be more and more of us,” she said.

For years, Judy, who lives in Pennsylvania, drove a van for homebound seniors, taking them to and from appointments, allowing them to go shopping, or simply out for lunch.

“We’d just moved from Baltimore,” she explained, “and I thought volunteering would not only help our seniors, but would be a good way to learn more about our new community.”

She and her husband believed so strongly in the vision of their senior center (which offered the van rides), that they were involved in assisting in its growth and expansion for some 30 years. She asked about our Senior Center in Shelburne. I told her it serves two other hilltowns, Ashfield and Buckland, as well as Shelburne, and I’d been there once to give a talk about hearing loss, another time to hear a talk on crop circles, and a third time to listen to a panel discussing the opioid crisis.

We got help, too, from their home repair program when needing assistance with our storm windows. And enjoyed chatting with the volunteer who came — he also was retired — and like us, had been a teacher. In addition, Ed has been to the foot clinic and — guess what — he discovered his shoes are a bit too large.

I told Judy of the many offerings at our center: from computer, to French, to drumming, to Tai Chi, to film nights, bridge and craft activities (to name just a few.) I added how impressed I am by our director, Cathy Buntin. When you’re with Cathy, you forget about age categories. It doesn’t matter if you’re a senior who’s volunteering — and there’s quite a crew of them there — or a senior on the receiving end. Cathy is there for everyone, which is an important thing to be confident in with the number of people the center now serves, having increased by 73 percent in the last five years. And it continues to grow. An expansion committee,  formed two years ago, has been looking for a new site and is preparing to launch a fundraising campaign.

By chance, the Senior Center newsletter came in the mail the day after my conversation with Judy. I noticed an impressive number of weekday lunch offerings on their calendar, and quiche was on the menu the next Tuesday. I love quiche, and entry was free, so Ed and I decided to go.

A congenial group of about 16 seniors had gathered at two tables for corn bread, salads and broccoli quiche. For dessert, there was a choice of blueberry, cherry or lemon meringue pie. Vicki, the cook, told me she sometimes prepares for 50 — even up to 70. Lunch is often the main meal of the day for many who come. There was plenty of chatting, joking and appreciation for the good cooking. I don’t go out for lunch often, usually just grab a carton of yogurt and crackers, and Vicki’s lunch tasted wonderful after my usual fare. I was struck specially by the warm and safe atmosphere. And, heck, I can’t remember how many of the ladies had grey or white hair. It’s the smiles I remember.

As our senior center expands, I’m certain there are going to be many delicious offerings, and I mean more than just lunches.

Claire Blatchford is a retired teacher and lives in Shelburne.