Today I met a new friend named Sal. He’s a patient at the Terrence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center where I volunteered today. I went with a friend whose work has a large volunteer program with the center. One Saturday of every month, he goes and walks the patients in the Central Park Gardens at 105th St and 5th Ave. They are truly beautiful if you haven’t seen them. It looks like The Secret Garden up in there! Since it was so hot out today, the patients couldn’t go outside, so instead, we played Bingo. I don’t know if you all know this but I actually love Bingo. There’s something so satisfying about knowing that all you need to win the game is just pure luck. You don’t have to do any math or remember random history facts. You just have to listen, and I am a great listener.
Apparently Sal doesn’t like to play games, so I was asked to sit and chat with him while everyone else played. How did they know I love to chat? They sized me up so fast! So I sat with Sal, an 83 yr old retired computer programmer (he worked on computers when they were first being developed) who was born and raised in New York City. He told me about the day he fell and broke his hip. He was making breakfast in his apartment on the lower east side and he slipped and fell. I think it was probably the last day he made breakfast for himself.
Sal is a huge movie buff and he told me every single one of his favorite movies. Obviously I knew none of them, because they are like all black and white, but I knew maybe two, so I was pretty proud. I forget that when I tell people I was a film major in college, they don’t automatically assume I mean I own every Adam Sandler movie. I kind of felt like a sham. Oh well. After he started naming movies, I took to the paper and started writing them down. All About Eve, On The Waterfront, Judgment at Nuremberg, Mutiny On The Bounty…I’ve gotta rent these! Also, Sal’s got a thing for Angela Lansbury. How cute is that?
A lot of Sal’s family has passed away and I don’t think he was ever married or had kids, so I kind of felt like his surrogate grandchild. I felt like I could learn a lot from Sal. His love of boxing and breakfast foods were very endearing. I tried to get him to tell me the craziest story of his life, and we got as far as a bull fight in Mexico and then it was time for the volunteers to leave.
I told Sal before I left that I’d try and watch the movies he recommended and then when I came back, I’d let him know what I thought. I’m hoping to make volunteering here a regular thing. I really loved the center and the guy who is in charge of the volunteer programs was really great. I think it’s so nice when you can see that someone’s heart is truly behind what they do.
If any of you live in NYC and would like to volunteer with me, that would love that! Also, they are looking for donations of big t-shirts or clothes in general (if any of you work at big companies, they can be tax exempt), working TV’s, DVD players, and VHS tapes even! The list goes on so if any of you would like to help, please let me know!
I hope you all had a wonderful Saturday!