Volunteering

Laura Hahn writes about intergenerational friendship on her blog, Arthur & Bernie. Arthur is her friend. Bernie was her grandfather, Pop Pop. Laura's work has appeared in People, Good Housekeeping and more. Follow her on Twitter @arthurandbernie

In Thailand, Retirement Is Not Always a Choice

Pa’ Noi manages the neighborhood restaurant that my boyfriend, Joe, and I love here in Thailand, where I’m doing part of my master’s program in gerontology. When we arrive, she greets and seats us, and patiently waits as we, the farangs (Thai for “foreigners”), fumble through our orders. When we finish, she brings us our check and our change, and she inevitably beats the busboys to a first swipe at our table. Pa’ Noi is 71, and she’s great at …

Being There to Say the Final Goodbye

Two years ago this month, I sat beside my Pop Pop as he died. I can’t help but cry as I type that, but this isn’t a sad story. Pop Pop was 96 years old. He was born in 1916. By Sept. 13, 2012, the day he passed, he’d been my mom’s dad for almost exactly 60 years. He’d been my grandfather for 30. Running the numbers didn’t comfort me that day, though. It didn’t compute. My friend was taking …

Blessings Near and Far: A Lesson in Honoring Elders

We arrived with jasmine garlands and two rosettes folded out of Thai baht. We slipped off our sandals and felt the cool, smooth tiles beneath us as we walked toward a woman sitting on her front porch. The woman was my friend Fon’s 90-year-old great grandmother, Chid. Fon had invited us – my friend Jess, my boyfriend Joe and me – to go to the beach, a few hours south of Bangkok. But first, she asked, could we stop to …

Guardian Angels: Volunteering to Make an Impact

Nobody knew much about Roger. His niece had dropped him off at the nursing home one day, saying there was a family emergency. Could they keep him overnight? Days passed, and then weeks. Some thought that Roger’s niece had been pocketing his Social Security checks, and when authorities started catching on, she bolted. Whatever the reason, she never came back. Enter Mark Desmond, Roger’s volunteer guardian. Mark, a newly retired sales manager, was determined to find out all he could about Roger, …

Building Family: How Guardianship Can Create Community

The Post-it note on the box said, “Little things. Wanna look?” I found it in my grandparents’ dining room, tucked alongside the candles and platters they used on special occasions. At that point, my grandmother, whom I called Dibi, had lived with Alzheimer’s disease for a few years. Ever the charmer, Dibi could hide it well, but those of us who knew her knew the battle was just beginning. I love to think about that box and imagine what was …

Hug Your Parents, and 7 Other Lessons for New Grads

The day after graduation at Miami University in Ohio, I took a run through campus. Barricades blocked paths, and white party tents waited to be disassembled. Ikea shelves and desks and deck chairs lined curbs. Kids snapped last-minute photos, while moms and dads carried storage bins and hitched U-Haul trailers to the backs of SUVs. It had been a while since I’d seen this scene – about 10 years. I graduated from college in 2005 and, after a short stint …