Bo Du is the warm, kind and helpful recreation specialist for Burien Senior Programs.
Jerry's View: A world of help awaits those who will take steps to get there.
By Mike and Jerry Robinson
So Dad says, "I'm bored." He's 93, doesn't get around much any more. But he loves his Papa Chair and his view of Puget Sound, the big tankers ploughing past, the white regattas riffling. I said, "So let's get out and meet some people."
"Where?" he says. He's wary of getting too far from the familiar comforts of his den, his housekeeper and his pile of newspapers, not to mention the Golf Channel, which stays on even when he naps.
"How about the Burien Senior Center?" I say. He agrees, as long as he can get home in 15 minutes. I call the center to see if they offer a program that might work for him.
At the City of Burien's Parks & Recreation and Cultural Services Center, they connect me to Bo Du. She's the recreation specialist for the city's Senior Programs. Born in a Thailand refugee camp, she came to the US 30 years ago, and now has a Masters in Human Relations. I have a hunch her instincts for people were in place before she got the degree. She's warm, kind and helpful. On a recent Thursday morning, she met us at the door.
When Dad tried to flirt with her, she treated him like a lovable uncle. He almost rolled over and wagged his tail. After he heard her life story, Bo handed him off to a handful of other old-timers who come to the senior center regularly to get good care for their feet.
(The service is provided by Tina Williams (RN) to help prevent more serious disabilities that creep up on people with diabetes or other foot problems.)
While Tina took care of those feet, Dad got to know Dorothy Krull, who schedules foot care appointments as a volunteer at the center. He and Dorothy hit it off right away. He learned quickly that she knows West Seattle like a book, has served as the receptionist at the YMCA there, and raised her four kids there. ("And 10 grandchildren!" she adds.)
Dorothy had a few surprises for Dad. She knew he was coming, so she introduced him to Frank Parente, a guy with a grin as big as the Adriatic (his Italian family hails from tiny Morrone Del Sannio, about halfway to Naples).
Frank has lived in the same house just off Ambaum Blvd for more than 60 years. HisDad ran a chicken farm (one of four in that neighborhood) in the 30s. Frank left the farm to work for post office for 30 years, and is still married to Betty (since 1948). Dad was delighted to hear that Frank not only knew his name, but has read his column for most of the past half-century, and doesn't hold it against him.
Then Dorothy introduced us to Isabel Becker, who might be 5'2" in stocking feet, but at 95, has the look of someone who could hike the Cascades with a 40-lb knapsack.
Like Frank, she wears a killer smile. She still lives in Arbor Heights, where her late husband Joe was the first fire chief 60 years ago.
We met a few more wonderful people that morning. Heading home for lunch, I asked Dad to sum up his brief adventure.
"This just proves what I've been telling you." he said. "Listen to old people. They have rich stories to tell. Stay quiet and listen. You'll be richer for it."