"It was like yesterday when I picked you up from the airport." I couldn't agree more with Mike, H.O.M.E.'s volunteer coordinator, who was the first to meet when I came to Chicago last year in August. After getting lost a couple of times at the airport and on our way to my new home, we finally arrived at Pat Crowley House. It took me some time to get used to the new setting, and especially living with eight to ten seniors. Everyone is unique so it can be fun and interesting to see how they are all living together:
Bob is a comedian, gentleman, musician and heartbreaker, who has worked in the restaurant business for almost all of his life. He's really good at imitating people's behaviours and is always up for a laugh at the dinner table. With his stories, funny voices and especially his famous seal sounds he always gets a smile on everybody. He likes to take out the ladies for lunch or dinner, and when his fellow residents are lucky, he even brings dessert like key lime pie or carrot cake from his old workplace, the Erie Café.
Seniors on the sofa, with Bob playing truck driver. From left to right: Joan, Bob, Konrad and Jean.
Since Joan moved in to Pat Crowley House, a trio has formed: together with Myra and Jean, the three are chatting, chuckling and keep sitting a long time at the table or in their other beloved spot, outside on the balcony. Jean's most favorite topic is talking about men, especially one of them: "Dr. House" actor Hugh Laurie aka "Mr. Schmuck" aka "lucky stiff." Besides dreaming about what she would do with him, Jean loves to dance and her weakness is Chinese food.
Myra is the secret helping hand in the house. Making coffee and tea, washing dishes and helping out others where she can makes her a warm and pleasant person to be around. She is very patient, calm and compassionate and always has a smile on her face. You can tell Myra is around by hearing her signature laugh which is contagious. When she's not out taking gratitude classes she likes to colorize templates to relax and meditate.
At my farewell lunch with Amber, Maggie, Konrad, Joan, Mike, Myra, Judy and Kara (from left to right).
Lillian, a former English teacher for foreigners, is into Buddhism and has been to some interesting places around the world, including India. She's a modest fountain of knowledge and more importantly: a big Cubs fan - in other words a person with whom you can have great conversations. When it comes to ice cream, you better make sure to get a scoop before Lillian gets her hands on - because that will be the last bit of ice cream you have seen from the box.
As a Jazz singer in her younger days, Judy is always on the move. Going to weddings, camping with the family, visiting friends and going to music classes is part of her everyday life. Like resident Jim she loves flowers and has a broad knowledge about that topic. She listens all day to the music on FM 90.9 and is a consistent outing participant: whenever there's a trip to a museum, a garden or to an event, you can be sure that Judy is there.
Bruce, the latest 'addition' to Pat Crowley House, is almost all the day out and about. He is also a secret cook that you can observe only early in the morning, when he makes his beloved hot dogs, spaghetti with meat balls, fried chicken etc.
All of that are things that I will take back home and that I will remember from my time here. Each senior has left a little mark on me and I hope I did the same throughout the time I've been at H.O.M.E.
Auf Wiedersehen, macht's gut und bleibt so wie ihr seid!
Editors Note: Konrad came to us through a German organization called World-Horizon. All of us at H.O.M.E. and especially the residents of Pat Crowley House, where he lived are grateful for all that he brought into our lives and we feel sad that he has gone back home. Thanks Konrad, please don't forget us.