“I turned down a birthday party invitation because I didn’t want to miss art class.” That’s what Phyllis said as she took her seat at the table. “Oh, Phyllis, I’m sorry you’re missing a party! I hope it wasn’t a family member.” “No, just a good friend.” Oh my….
I am happy that the residents at my mom’s assisted living facility are enjoying this art class, however, I am disappointed that they are canceling other plans; they don’t have enough to fill their time as it is. But I don’t think everyone changes their schedule for me — Phyllis might be the exception. She tells me every week, “I just LOVE to do this.” And that makes me smile because the first week I came to do this art with the residents, Phyllis was the one who kept saying, “Oh, I just can’t do this. I just can’t.” But she can, and she does every single week, and she is always the first one to arrive at the table. I just love
A few weeks ago, Lorraine asked me to come to her room after class. Beaming, she pointed to the wall, “My daughter hung all my art work.” She was thrilled that her daughter liked her art, and thought it “wall-worthy.” My mom tells me (every week) that she knew Lorraine when she was a teenager. “When I was 14 years-old, she use to walk down the sidewalk with her boyfriend, holding hands.” I love to get nuggets of information like this. Memories from the past. These women weren’t born old. They were young and in love and had babies and had careers.
I try to ask questions, hoping they will reminisce and indulge me with their stories. As they painted the pie in the autumn centerpiece last week, I asked, “Who loves to bake pies?” When Halloween was just around the corner, and they were painting pumpkins, I asked, “Did your children dress up and go trick-or-treating?” Sometimes I get a few answers. Sometimes I don’t. That’s okay. If they are quiet, I tell them a story about me, my children, or my grandchildren. And more than once my story has helped someone recall their story. And so it goes.
I have prepared 5 pictures for them to paint over the last several weeks. Two weeks ago, I thought we’d do something different, so I brought sun catchers for them to paint. I found some nice fall leaf patterns that would look pretty in the windows in their rooms. One lady was new to class (she had walked by the previous week and noticed the beautiful pumpkin and sunflower picture we were working on.) When she sat down, I could tell she was a bit disappointed in the sun catchers. After we had painted for about 15 minutes, the chatter at the table had mixed “reviews” of this more tedious art work. But most liked the change. This new artist boldly said, “I think it’s boring.” That made me laugh out loud. You know, when you get to be 90 years-old, there is no need to pretend or beat around the bush. And that’s okay. She didn’t come back last week. But I’m going to seek her out on Friday because we’re painting an awesome turkey for Thanksgiving. I think she just might like it.
Here are a few pictures of our fall paintings. I am so thankful I can be a part of this. The residents are very proud of their pictures. I am too.
But more beautiful than the art work are the artists.