I’ve been visiting my Grandma at her retirement center on and off for about six years now. I’ve gotten to know some of the other residents who live there and have had the pleasure of many tender moments with some of them.

Honestly, many times, I’m just bored and depressed when I’m there. I see so many of them sitting around staring into space, unable to do much of anything. They seem to be languishing, like a sickened plant that only seems to need a breath of sunshine or some fertilizer. I feel it’s my job when I’m there to be a bright ray of light and when I give them attention, they perk up as if coming out of their dormancy for just a fleeting moment . . .

*The last thing my friend Vashti ever said to me before she died was a very quiet and stuttery, “I’m very ashamed of what my generation has done to this planet . . . ”

*Mr. Russell asked me once during a long walk, “Why? Why, Anna, why is there so much pain and suffering in this world?”

*Ms. Amanda the ex-PE teacher who always zipped around so fast with her walker asked me once, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Oh, an Artist Adventurer!” I said.

“Good,” she said peering at me with her hawk-like eyes. “We need more of those.”

*Darlene told me the other day, “You need to put a ruffle on that short dress.”

*And then there was dear, dear Andy, also passed away now, who once asked me when we were stuck on the elevator together, “You wanna sit on my lap?”

I’ve had so many moments with these wonderful treasures of oft-forgotten people. I encourage anyone who has a song to sing, an instrument to practice, a story to tell, a book to read aloud or a pet or child to show off to go down to your local retirement home and beam a fleeting light into the hearts of those kind souls who won’t be with us much longer, if you’ve got an extra moment or two. The reward may surprise you. May change you.