By: Kate Runkel
The serendipity of who enters our lives is sometimes magical. I came to Whitman a nervous freshman, thinking on more than one occasion how much easier it would have been to stay in Montana for college. When I heard about the Adopt-A-Grandparent program, I jumped at the opportunity to visit with the elderly. This was a place where I knew I would feel comfortable and somewhat at home. Throughout high school, I worked in an assisted living facility, caring for and visiting with residents. This opportunity at Whitman helped me feel at home even though it was actually 500 miles away.
I met with Mary* in my first month of college. She listened patiently to my worries about classes and making friends. Overtime, we both found we loved board games and Yahtzee became our weekly pastime. Over dice rolling, she told me about her youth and her love of going to the dance halls and I would share my most recent academic struggle or triumph.
Visiting Mary brought with it stability and consistency each week for the past four years, from coping with the ups and downs of freshman year, to telling her the details of my senior oral exams. Having worked with the elderly, I know that death and dying are not unexpected events; however, I was never sure how I would respond if Mary passed away. She wasn’t my grandmother or even a relative, but I spent more time with her in the last four years than some of my closest family.
I will miss her smile when I came to visit; I will miss her surprised eyes when she would successfully roll a Yahtzee, and I will miss her way of knowing exactly what to say to me. Looking back, I’m glad I was a nervous freshman. Otherwise, I never would have had the opportunity to make such a wonderful and unexpected friend.
*To protect privacy, my friend’s name is changed
Learn more about the Adopt-a-Grandparent Program.