“Yes, we are having fun”
On December 1st, the nursing home put on a Christmas party for the residents and family. Of course, Randy and I attended. I was looking forward to it (free food is always a big draw for me), but had WAY more fun than expected.
1st surprise, is evidenced in the introductory photo. Here are some folks who are obviously having fun, that I’ve never really gotten to know.
I don’t really know the lady on the right, but in the middle is my Mom-In-Law’s roommate. She only has one available eye to do it (eye patch is permanent now), but she keeps an eye out on my MIL, and, while, my MIL can’t, she gives us an account of her day. Much appreciated as my MIL is mostly non-verbal now. Maureen has her head turned, but she’s a real fan of Dynamo, and owned her own shepherd before she was admitted. It’s a bad photo, but here I was sitting amoungst friends, people I know and like. I forgot to take a photo of Dolores, the lady who asked me two weeks ago if I would sit with her at this party, because her family wouldn’t be there. That sounds lonely, but Dolores is so much fun, and so sociable, that she has plenty of friends. Just behind me, was Tim, whom I can’t understand very well, but we speak in smiles. I’ve gone into the home exceedingly grumpy (for very good reasons) and Tim will put a smile on my face.
Here’s the resident ‘musician’ (one of them, because he’s not the piano man I was talking about). He played many instruments in his life, but athritis has turned his hands into things that look like broken wings. He now has a ‘digital guitar’ that he plays, he writes songs, and he sings. Beside him is the music therapist.
More of the d guitar, bad pic again, but you get the idea.
So why did I devote a blog post to this, you may wonder. Visiting the nursing home has been a discovery for me, the feelings I have of friendship for certain individuals has surprised me. I began the adventure horrified at a all the ‘broken, helpless’ people. I think many never get beyond that, and choose the avoid the scene altogether. and simply stop visiting or visit seldom. But with familiarity. the prejudice falls away. Here are real people, leading rich lives full of meaning, largely without absent family members. Those who are capable, mix, mingle, make friends, gossip, break rules, create art, express themselves and help one another. It is only those on the outside who see this as a ‘warehouse for old people’ (I term I’ve heard used).
What makes a home a home are the people within. In this case, residents and staff. When I walked in on Thursday night, and saw all the familiar faces, I felt welcome. When I found an empty chair beside Dolores and fulfilled my promise, I felt I had gained an extended family. I looked ahead and behind me and realized I was surrounded by friends, and it felt really really good. And I sang (badly) Christmas carols with the rest of them.
PS. I took photographs, because it was a public performance, and that’s okay. I’m still being careful not to identify anybody in a real way. (Which is why I don’t name the home)