For the past couple months, I’ve been going to a local assisted living facility and helping some of the residents make cards and other projects. The first time, most of them said, “Oh, I’ll just watch.” Or, “Oh, I just want to make one card.” And they ended up making both of the cards we had that day. I thought they enjoyed it, but it was hard to tell.
Tuesday was the second time I was there. They were a little more eager this time. And some said, “You know who I sent my cards to?” – and then they named family and friends who received their art. Their eyes always light up when they talk about their kids or grandkids, or nieces and nephews.
I’m learning what they can and can’t do without getting frustrated, so each month is a learning session for me. Here’s what I learned today. Whenever they make something, the first thing they do is downplay how nice it looks. They’re very critical of their work, but when one of the volunteers or I tell them what a wonderful job they’ve done, they sit a little taller – even when they’re arguing that it’s not that great. I realized that most of them have heard, “Oh, Mother, just leave it alone. I’ll fix it (do it, finish it) later. You’ll just mess it up.” So here they are – in a beautiful facility with lots of things to do (the activities director is wonderful!) – but no one to do them for. They’ve spent their lives taking care of others, and now, there’s no one to take care of. They’re just existing day to day, and most of what they do isn’t meaningful; they’re just passing time. And this is so contrary to their earlier years when they were “important,” with jobs and families and civic groups to tend to. These are beautiful, intelligent, capable women. Their bodies are a little more frail, their ears and eyes aren’t quite as sharp, their hands aren’t as nimble, and their memories may need a little more time to pull up information. But, oh, what information they can bring up! The stories they tell about their childhoods and the way life was “way back then” are heartwarming.
I also realized today that many of the residents are the same age as my parents. The difference is my parents are incredibly active – physically, mentally and spiritually – and are more than capable of living on their own – largely due to my mom’s knowledge of herbs and supplements. I swear – if she had lived 300 years ago, she would have been the village healer! But there are times that I’ve been impatient, because I’ve had to repeat something once or twice. Or I’ve thought, “hey, I know more, because I’m younger!” (Wasn’t I supposed to outgrow that a long time ago?) And I’m grateful for the reminder that even at my advanced age, my parents – and the lovely residents of the A.L.F. – will always know more than I know. They’ve been through much tougher times and have more than survived; they’ve thrived. They’re active and intelligent, and they’ll probably always know much more than I do. And I have so much more to learn from them.
Oh – the photo at the top is what we’re doing at club this week. The Easter card is very like the ones the ladies made yesterday – and they were amazing! And they’ll be making little Easter treat bags – similar to the one in the photo – next month. I can’t wait!
Thanks for stopping by Stamping with Buffy. Have a wonderful day!