Saturday, September 24, 2011

Never too Old to Learn or Ever to Young to Teach...

I am certain I am not alone when I say I wear several hats.  Well, one of those is teacher.  Friday was one of those days.  I get to teach a craft class for a skilled nursing group AND home school kids.  The retirement community is wonderful and in their search for activities and fun for their residents they also know how much they love being around the children.  So, I get the privilege of teaching both sets of wonderful people at the same time.  
 {No sarcasm in that one, I truly love it!}

I usually bring my kids with me and this was the first time I didn’t get to.  I was sad and I know they missed it.   They really enjoy it even my boys.  They don’t see anything different about them.  They do see the joy in their expressions when my children spend time with them.  The conversations that are laced with thick, fog-like dementia often remind my children of conversations with their own mother.
  {Touching, I know.  Wink}

This class was chosen by the students. 
They chose the theme:  Back to school
{Wait?  Seriously?  Who let them choose that?}   
Skilled nursing people they’re not going back to school…and neither are the kids…they’re home schooled.  I mean come on…Oh, you can tell I was perturbed in them deciding the theme?  Really?   
{Mental Note:  Work on subtlety. …and possibly tolerating other people choosing my themes.}

So to my own wonder and amazement I came up with the thought: “You’re never to old to learn or ever to young to teach.”  Profound right?  {wink}  We made a school themed picture frame with that little saying inside it.  They loved it.  The kids crafted their lil hearts out and the residents just watched with absolute joy as the children created, smiled, giggled and discussed their projects with them. 

Oh, I wish I could sit and bury you in one of my long winded posts about the conversations I had and heard with the residents.  But I won’t.  I don’t think.  I can’t promise.  Uhh…I’ll try not to.

Here was my main thought.  I have a favorite, Ms. Pricilla.   She’s wonderful and warm and funny and I fancy myself to be her in about 50 years.  {If I could be so lucky.}  Well, when I got to our class she wasn’t there.   

She’s always early.  Not today.  
 I began passing out supplies and getting the kids started.  I helped Mr. Ryan who smiled warmly and asked if he could just watch me make his for him.  I could tell, back in the day, he had charmed his wife into doing chores for him I bet.  And I bet she enjoyed it even knowing he was charming her. 

I looked around, no Ms. Pricilla.  She loves to make the crafts.  Sure she loves the kids but she really enjoys working with her hands.  When I made these chunky little do-do birds out of clay and brought them in for the residents/children to paint, Pricilla had to paint 4 of them because she had 4 girls.  She didn’t have time to finish the fourth so I gave her one of my samples.  She was so touched.  It doesn’t matter if she sees her girls or remembers even making those silly birds.  It matters that at that moment she is making something with her own two hands for her 4 girls; that’s the worth.

Halfway through the class, still no Ms. Pricilla…  Michael, who was coordinating the group, was buzzing in and out of the room.   

{Holy moly could I write an entire post about him.  He is the warmest most sincere human being on this planet.  He doesn’t even have to work, he’s financially well-off.  He is there because he loves it.  He adores those residents and they feel it.  I am honestly tearing up just thinking about the love I have witnessed between he and the residents}

 I didn’t want to ask Michael where she was.  I’ve noticed, the steady decline since I started teaching these classes several months ago.  I’ve seen Pricilla’s memory slip a bit more, her sores become more evident and her fatigue grow quicker.  I just didn’t want to ask so I continued the class. 

I began cleaning up when I turned to the hallway.  There she was, being pushed in by a nurse.  I’m pretty certain I may have stumbled on myself  trying to get across the room to her.  I knelt beside her in her wheelchair and giggled when she perked up at the excitement in the room.  She asked if she had time to make a frame.  She settled when I gave her my sample since it was already time for dinner.  We talked for a bit.  Turns out she had been at the eye doctor for 4 hours.  {Highly unlikely} Then, one of her girls sent a huge bag of winter clothes and she had to dump them out and go through them all.  AND it turns out that she’s not getting a new prescription for her glasses, she just can’t see, that’s all.  {I love her.}  She makes my day.  I think about her often and wish I would make the time to go and see her not just during my classes.   

I appreciate these moments.  I am so grateful to be able to spend time with them and catch glimpses of the people that are still there, buried inside a body that is fragile and worn.  I appreciate what I have in my age and stage in life.   I’m pretty sure I am the one being taught in these classes.

That’s all.  I just wanted to share that little tid-bit of sweetness I have in my life.  If ever you have the chance to perk up someone’s day that might be in need of a little company, I highly recommend it.  I promise, you’ll be the one that comes out filled.

Two funny side notes and then I’m done….I swear it!

Side Note #1:  The first time I took all of my kids to the class I told the boys you can’t call them old people you need to call them “Residents.”  They did wonderful and never messed up.  A few days later we were at home and the dogs were barking.  I asked Ethan what they were barking at.  He looked out the window and told me, “Oh, they’re barking at the residents.”  Me:  “Huh?”  I looked out the window and there was an elderly couple holding hands walking down the street.  The girls and I about fell over.  I love how literal kids are!

Side Note#2: At the class one of our residents introduced herself to Mr. Ryan.  {Bytheway, he seems a little more put together in the mental department.  I think physically, is why he is in skilled nursing.}  So she looks to him and asks, “Oh, do you live near here?”
Hahahaha!  It was so precious!  He sweetly smiles at her and says, “Oh yes, very near.”

Happy Weekend!  My babies are gone so I’ll be cleaning the house…so they can mess it up….so I can have worth.  I had a thought today as I found one of Lil Man’s cars in my craft box.  {Hidden from his brother no doubt.}  It won’t be long when I don’t find those little surprises anymore.  I imagine there will be a post coming on that one pretty soon.


P.S.  I totally lied.  Dang…there is no short and sweet with me huh?

1 comment:

  1. I totally thought I commented on this already. :) This is the sweetest thing ever! I loved reading this and getting to know what you do there and how you impact the residents. :)


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