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My Grandfather’s Experience At Sebastopol Area Senior Center

posted Apr 27, 2017, 11:34 AM by Wayne Wieseler   [ updated Apr 27, 2017, 11:35 AM ]

When I was presented with the opportunity to write for the Sebastopol Area Senior Center’s Wisdom Counts monthly newsletter, I looked at it as a chance to contribute to an organization that had a profoundly positive effect on my own family.

Nearly 10 years ago, my grandparents, Dick and Marge, left their home in Marin County to move to Sebastopol.

They looked forward to the move with a nervous excitement. They would be leaving friends they had known for over 50 years, as well as the familiar sights and sounds of life on the edge of San Francisco Bay. On the other hand, they would get to watch their youngest grandchildren, my younger brother and me, grow up.

They moved into a house on the same lane as ours, but before they had even finished unpacking, tragedy struck. Grammy suffered a fall, and unbeknownst to all of us, was hemorrhaging within the brain. By the time it became obvious that something was wrong, it was already too late. After a grueling week in the hospital, she passed away. Dick was left in a state of shock, living in a new area, and now without his wife of 57 years by his side.

In an effort to help Dick establish some sense of community in Sebastopol, my mom urged him to attend the Sebastopol Area Senior Center. Like many in the older crowd, he had not made new friends in years and was unsure of his ability to make new connections. After a few days of grumbles and ha-rumphs, he gave in and went to play bingo. This was a turning point for him.

Through activities hosted by the Sebastopol Area Senior Center, Dick met a wide variety of people. Each of them had a story to share. He would always share these anecdotes with us at dinner, cheerfully retelling us his friends’ tales.

The Senior Center quickly became an important place in Dick’s life. He cherished the weekly bingo games, and he always seemed to win more than he lost. Whether he went for bingo, poker, or just a healthy lunch and good conversation, the Senior Center provided Dick with a strong sense of community and a restored sense of excitement.

Dick lived another seven years before peacefully joining his beloved Margie. But, those seven years were filled with grandchildren’s sporting events, family gatherings, and bingo at the Senior Center with his “Sebastopol Posse.”

And for that, my family will be forever grateful.

~ By Parker Dangers Oncken, Student at Santa Rosa Junior College