Bob and Jane enjoy a game of BINGO at Imperial Nursing Home.

I met Jane for the first time on a cold Thursday night in December of 2007 while volunteering at my first Chicago Cares bingo event.

She politely asked how my day was, but before I could get a word in edgewise, Jane immediately launched into how terrible her dinner had tasted and then asked if I could help her place chips on the board when the numbers were called .

You see, Jane couldn’t see or hear very well but that didn’t matter to her because she was just content to be able to play some bingo with all her wonderful friends.

I continued to help out on Thursday nights and Jane and I got to know each other quiet well. Every week when we arrived, her smile would brighten up the room. I often sat next to her as she would hold my hand, sharing stories of how she and her husband would go to local jazz clubs every Saturday, sipping wine and dancing the night away. I learned a lot about her love for her husband. She made my night awhile later when she jokingly asked what I was doing that Saturday night, “Are you up for dancing and wine?”

Once, as I sat next to her, a number was called and Jane scolded me, “Aren’t you going to cover my number with that chip?” I had forgotten to place a chip on the board and she quickly reminded me that, although her hearing and vision were limited, they were still good enough to win three bingo games that night.

Jane told me, flat-out, that her age was 98 and she was not ashamed of it. She once told me that she loved her life and never had any regrets. Jane inspired so many people, not just the volunteers but the other residents as well. Everyone wanted to sit and talk to Jane because she was a such delightful person.

About six months ago I heard of Jane’s passing, she was 100 yrs old. Every time I enter the activity room I can still see her smile and her presence is felt throughout the space. We all deeply miss her but knowing Jane, she would want the bingo games to play on.

Today’s post is by Chicago Cares volunteer and 20th Anniversary Host Committee Member, Bob Cordero. We invite you to discover more stories of service by attending our 20th Anniversary Celebration on March 9!