December 11, 2023 By Rory Earley
A few years ago, I ventured out on a Thursday morning to the other side of town to pick up a stranger who needed a weekly ride to her hair appointment in Pembroke. Her name was Barbara and she and I were connected through Hingham Link, the organization that matches senior citizens with local volunteers. I was a little nervous as I pulled up to her home, wanting to make sure that she felt safe and comfortable with me and slightly worried about what we’d talk about for the 30 minute commute, each way.
Those apprehensive feelings turned out to be pointless as once we started talking and sharing and connecting, we didn’t stop for over a year until it was time for my friend to move into an assisted living facility. Our Thursdays were filled with discussions about our favorite recipes (she’s more of a baker and I’m more of a cook), marriage advice and the most frequent topic: my kids. Barbara wanted to know everything about my two kids and remembered every single detail with great enthusiasm. I also learned all about her large family and where all of her brothers and sisters lived and all about her two children. After a few months, we felt like family.
She lavished my kids with amazing birthday presents and sent them her favorite children’s books and in turn I’d bring her an occasional meal or her favorite treat: chocolate turtles. Things have changed, now that my friend has moved, and life is busy with kid activities that fill my every day. However, I try to carve out my Barbara time whenever I can and every time I leave there, I feel such joy. I know I have brightened her day with stories of my thanksgiving turkey preparation and my son’s basketball game details, but in turn she has filled up my bucket as well.
Barbara has inspired me to continue my volunteering with elders! Now I spend one morning a week driving the senior center van around town and have recently joined forces with Hingham Link to help with their volunteer coordination. The wisdom that comes from folks who have lived almost 90 years on this earth is immeasurable. I am consistently amazed at the stories of extreme hardship, unbelievable perseverance, families with ten kids or fathers who pioneered Hingham youth sports programs more than thirty years ago. The overarching takeaways for me have been the beauty of resilience, the importance of family and the absolute necessity to LIVE YOUR LIFE!
I urge everyone to volunteer your time with a senior in this town – maybe even bring your kids! It may just change your life.
Hingham Link can be found on Facebook or Hinghamlink.com.