Mean Girls at the Senior Center A New Frontier for Bullies


by Mary Beth Sammons

My 83-year-old mother, a feisty Irish woman, is determined to do something to help her neighbor Gloria, who lives just down the walkway from Gloria, mean girls, bullies, eldercareher at the Catholic elderly living center. Unbeknownst to Gloria, she is going to be told by her Bingo teammates that they no longer want her to be a part of their group at the table, that she is no longer welcome at their Bingo table.  With only six days to take action, after the Bingo group at her senior center announced they were going to exile Gloria, the 80-something member of their team, my mother was ready to take swift action.

We brainstormed several ideas. I suggested she create a new team and invite, John the “younger” 70-something guy all the ladies have a crush on, Gloria and myself. We’ll start our own team and strut our way through the cafeteria with our biggest smiles and cheerleader waves aimed at the table of now five. Or, perhaps my mom could invite Gloria to a Monday night movie night. Or, better yet, she could appeal to the hearts of these women and try to explain how their actions could really be hurtful and ask them to consider other options, like sitting at the other end of the table, instead of removing Gloria from it. My mom went with option #3, hoping her words would influence the ladies to think twice about how insensitive, and downright mean, their actions would be. With Bingo looming just days away, my mom was hoping, and praying for a happy resolution and the scoop that Gloria kept her seat at the Bingo table, and the senior mean girls kept their lips tight.

But, Tuesday, the day before Bingo, fate intervened. Gloria was involved in a serious car accident and now is tethered to IV’s for her life support, instead of people she had hoped were senior friends, at least just one night a week.  I can’t help but wonder what the conversation felt like at the Bingo table on Wednesday night, when Gloria’s seat was indeed empty.  I do know, in an odd way, I am relieved that Gloria never got her summons from the Bingo gals. She was spared a car crash of the soul. But it begs the question: do some people ever grow up?

Have you ever encountered these kinds of experiences caring for your aging parent? It reminds me of the kinds of comforting moments I have had to have with my kids when they were in kindergarten, Junior High and high school. Who would have thought there would be bullies in the senior center. Please share your thoughts.