It was bottom of the ninth and the bases were loaded.
The “Reds” were stomping the “Blues” and the crowd and players were going crazy.
“Come on bring us a homerun!”
“You didn’t hit nothing; you got an out!”
“I can do what I want to, I got third base!”
Referee Dan Fayfar warns the players to play “fair.”
“No cheating,” Fayfar yells out.
The players just ignore him. The Reds won 20-8.
“That’s all right! That’s all right! New game! New game!”
So it was on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Monarch Estates, baseball – the all-American game – was in full swing. The participants proved that all one really needs in life is a great imagination.
They weren’t swinging bats, fielding balls or stealing bases. They simply ambled to the mound with a bean bag in hand and pitched like their very life depended on it. Some were aided by walkers and others by canes. Nothing deterred them. Well, maybe nothing.
“Where’d Charles go, he’s up next?”
“Think he got a call from one of his children.”
“Well that’s good. Good for him. Then you’re up next.”
Fayfar, a live-in manager at Monarch Estates in Auburn, says they play three times a week. And, yes, they do mean business. “Sometimes it gets ugly.”
Regardless, he says it’s great to see the fire in their eyes, the determination in their step and the spirit in their souls.
Not even the “Blast from the Past” event where residents could reminisce about the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s could deter them from the game. Staff members know they’ll eventually get winded and need a break. That’s why the popcorn was popped, cider was poured, the red carpet rolled out and the 1942 classic “Casablanca” was ready to play theatre-style. Throughout the Monarch atrium, speakeasy music echoed a time gone by.
Looking back, and looking ahead
Betty Crouch, 91, recalls living through the Great Depression.
“We had white bread, butter and sugar – that was our desert,” Crouch said. “We lived in a different time. If you had it, you had it – if you didn’t, you didn’t.”
She married in 1944 and was given a book of stamps by family to take a honeymoon.
“Bill died last June, It’s been a year this last month,” said Crouch, who lived in Jacksonville, Fla. “God’s been good all these years.”
Norma Nabors, 85, has been at Monarch since last November.
Born in Birmingham in 1928, she grew up with a musician mother and a businessman father. She said she remembers being 6 and was mad at her mother for something or other and sat on the garage steps waiting for her father to come home from work. When he returned, he sat down beside her, and she told him she was thinking about running away from home. He told her to wait just a minute and he’d go with her.
“I had great parents,” said Nabors, who retired 20 years ago from the Alabama Department of Education.
Her husband died four years ago. She has three grown sons and one daughter.
Marywil Miller, 96, says she enjoys passing time by gazing out the windows and watching the rain fall. In her youth, she studied Latin, French and English and said that one of her fondest memories in life was a month-long trip to Europe she took with her granddaughter.
“I always wanted to go to Europe,” Miller said. “It was one of the most outstanding things in my life.”
When asked what she believes is the secret to a healthy life, she tilted her head to the side and said, “A positive attitude and integrity helps.”
“I always see the glass half full, never half empty,” Miller said.
Wylene Bush, 83, agrees.
She says that the friends she’s made at Monarch thus far, as well as the dedicated staff there, have given her a sense of peace, a sense of family and a sense of belonging. She says it’s not good to be alone.
Marion Mann, 82, says having a “sense of security” at a certain age in life is one less thing to have to worry about.
“You don’t have to worry about the AC going out or the freezer or the roof, a new roof,” Mann said. “This is like being on a cruise – all you’ve got to do is lift your fork.”
The women standing around her howl with laughter.
When they’re not cutting a rug, playing ball or whopping it up, residents are honoring veterans. Monarch’s Outward Bound veterans’ program has raised $500 through community and in-house donations. Tammy Chandler, director of sales and marketing for Monarch, says the money helps military men and women adjust to civilian life. “It helps them get back into the daily routine, back into society,” she said. The program is part of Holiday Retirement, which has 340 properties across the country including Monarch. Donations for veterans will continue at Monarch through Labor Day.