|Me on a mountain top somewhere in Tennessee looking for that next cemetery|
Now that I'm retired I'm often asked "Do you volunteer your time?" My first thought when I hear someone ask me this question is:
"You're an old useless man now who has nothing to do with your days, surely you would want to give your free time to help others."
Yes, perhaps this sounds harsh but remember, this is my blog and I don't fool around here. I tell the truth as I see it, offending many along the way.
Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with volunteering your time. Many of us old useless folks find volunteering fulfills a part of their life by helping others. I think that is JUST FINE. If you fall into that category and you want to volunteer your time at the local thrift store (which I have been asked to do on numbers occasions), GO FOR IT! You're happy, the thrift store is happy getting your free time, and the ultimate beneficiaries of the thrift store benefit by your generosity. That is wonderful and I am not criticizing or condemning that activity at all. What I am say, that is not for me. I've seen old men like me volunteer and I don't like what I see. They're not appreciated, they're taken for granted and they are looked down upon.
|Me with my Mom at my paternal grandparent's grave in Union Hill Cemetery|
Bill and I got a kick out of seeing the description of one of our friend's obituary. It listed his name and underneath it said "Neighborhood volunteer." Say what? We knew this guy and he was a former friend for several reasons. Not only was he a racist who liked to use the N Word freely in describing another neighbor in our neighborhood but he was one of the most opportunistic and selfish people I've ever known. That's why he was a former friend. So we scratched out heads and tried to figure out what the "neighborhood volunteer" description meant. And then it hit us! Ah yes, our former friend volunteered at the local gay community center stuffing condoms into packets to be distributed to local gay bars. Well that explained it, our former friend volunteered as a way to meet people. He volunteered in a milieu where he was comfortable. That's fine. Whatever works for him. Sort of funny though reading that description of him in his obituary. The obituary should have went into more detail. Now that would have been interesting.
|Me standing on my cemetery plot at Northwood Cemetery, Downingtown, PA|
I see the old ladies at the local thrift store who volunteer their time. Bless their hearts. I admire them. Volunteering works for them. Volunteering gives them a chance to put on their
|The view from my cemetery plot at Northwood Cemetery|
So now we get to me, this old guy that some are so concerned that I don't have enough to do in my spare time that they feel the need to suggest that I volunteer my time to some worthy cause. I guess they think because I'm not one of these well off older gay guys who has two or three homes that I travel back and forth too. You know, the home in PA and then the one in Rehoboth then the one in Florida for winter - sorry folks, I'm a POOR OLD GAY GUY. I only have ONE home. I tough it out here in the winter. Nah, I'm not one of THOSE guys. By the way, notice how they NEVER volunteer their time? Oh yes, you won't see them getting down with the hoi polli. They are much too good for that. I notice that there is a direct inverse, the more property these guys have, the less they volunteer. They're always the ones making the suggestions to this Poor Old Gay Guy. I actually need to continue working to supplement my modest Social Security and retirement income. I don't have the luxury of traveling between my homes. I have a part-time job that I need to get paid for to keep up with my bills. I'm not lazy. I'll work as long as I can.
Some of my friends, who only have one home, volunteer at their local church (treasurer) or homeowners association (treasurer again). Again, I think that is just fine. They are utilizing their skills in a useful manner. That is good and I do not criticize them. I admire them.
What I resent are those who feel the need to advise me that I should volunteer my time. Here's the deal folks...I DO VOLUNTEER but I chose the method that I volunteer. I am an Find a Grave volunteer. I travel to cemeteries and take pictures of graves and post them to a website. I do this because I ENJOY doing this plus my effort is almost always appreciated. My volunteering is also good for my health because I get out in the open and move around. I'm not one of those old gay guys who can't figure out how to lose weight. I guess if all you're doing is eating out most of the time and moving around very little, you're going to put on weight and become unhealthy. By the way, here's my advice to lose weight:
MOVE MORE, EAT LESS
Later today Bill and I are going to return to the Union Cemetery in Georgetown. I have a lot of pictures to take. While taking those photos, I'll be moving around, bending down and standing up. I have about five pounds to lose that I gained over the winter. I don't think I'll run into any of my Old Gay Friends at the cemetery today with three homes who advise me to volunteer my time.