Chicago-area Man: Augie Barberi Celebrates 107th Birthday
November 1, 2019
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You Never Know


Jim and I were an unlikely friendship that developed in an out of the ordinary place. A nursing home is often times the type of place that people do not want to even go to visit, let alone live there. Undoubtedly, living in a nursing home was hard for Jim and he hated the institutional existence of his experience there. I feel awful about that every day. I wish I would have succeeded in finding him a better residence.

Here was my friend living in a place that he despised and yet, my experiences with Jim in his small hospital-like room with strangers as his roommates became something that I would never, ever forget. Jim’s belongings were stripped down to fit into one closet as well as the four cardboard boxes on the side of his bed. When he went to bed, woke up, dressed, used the bathroom, and ate became part of the nursing home’s schedule of institutional life.

Visiting Jim in a nursing home seemed like such a charitable act, but the truth is as I sat there on the edge of his hospital bed talking with Jim, I had what I think I will one day look back and say that was one of the best times of my life. Or as Jim would say, “Them were the days.” “Them were the days” when Jimmy and I debated geopolitics and he bashed politicians for hours. “Them were the days” when Jim conversed with me about the CBI theater of war and many other aspects part of our society today.

Overall looking back, “them were the days” when I did something nice for an old, elderly man (Jim). Initially, I came back again after meeting this guy because I could tell that he was lonely. I went out of my way to do something nice for Jim – at that point a stranger, and in return, the years that followed became one of the best experiences of my life and I met the friend of a lifetime. He happened to reside in a nursing home.

Victoria is the founder of the Interview Girl Foundation. The Interview Girl Foundation is producing the film and book, Chasing Time ( Victoria is a writer and a high school social studies teacher. She has a BA as well as three Masters Degrees (Language and Literacy, European History, and Italian). She is fluent in Italian. Currently, she is taking courses in gerontology. She loves to learn, to read, to write, to travel, everything about Italy, and to meet new people and hear their stories.

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