It was September, 1991. I was a college student at Holy Cross and started working at the Sudbury Senior Center coordinating intergenerational programs that brought seniors and children together. I asked the senior center director who might want to participate in an 8 week program with middle school students that I was piloting. George’s name came up. I called him and asked him to come for just one week. He showed up with two other gentlemen – and they came back week after week… which turned into year after year after year.
When I think of George, I think of a true gentleman. He reminded me so much of my own grandfather – that generation that fought in World War II; tough on the outside but so very caring on the inside. George had high standards! Each week, he would ask me how I did on the previous week’s tests and then what I had coming up next week for tests! I remember him saying so very often “Practice does NOT make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” So true!
George was an important part of bridging the generations in the program, in the community and in his own family. He believed in Bridges and the values imparted through the program. I remember fondly how his engineering background came thru so clearly in the lesson on actual bridges when he would teach the students how to draw a bridge! Just thinking of George brings a big smile to my face!
George celebrated with me as I graduated college, got married, earned my master’s degree in intergenerational studies, had my four children and bought our first home.
He enjoyed children so much. He was a football coach for more than 30 year. He was tough (in a good way) and I would encourage the teacher to give George her more rambunctious students – he could handle them! George would continue participating in Bridges even after his hearing had diminished. He would sit at the table, lean into the students and cup his hand around his ear – but he wouldn’t give up and he didn’t want to miss a word! In 2001, I left the program to grow my family – but George continued!
Today, I will attend George’s funeral and pray with and for his family. Bridges is still going on, 22 years later and Bridges Together has come into being. Every time I present on Bridges Together, George is in my heart. If he hadn’t shown up week after week, if he hadn’t taken an interest in me and supported my endeavors, there would be no Bridges and there would certainly be no Bridges Together. And for that, and for George, I am forever grateful.