On Fat Tuesday!
Having just returned from New Orleans (weighted down with parade loot) I just couldn't resist doing a Mardi Gras theme!
We talked about the history of masks, at Masquerade balls and the masked Krewe members on parade floats. But mostly, everyone just wanted to try on masks.
Ken even taught me a little something I never knew about Louis Armstrong! "Louis did not like to be called Louie!"
The best music was what we made ourselves. Everyone wanted a turn with the toy accordion. It may be small and toylike, but we had to laugh at how it tested our patience and skills... like patting your head and rubbing your tummy. There's a lot of opening and closing and button pressing to do at once!
We talked a lot about the bad reputation of Mardi Gras parades. I let them know that most parades are family friendly and safe. They were amazed at the silly stuff that gets thrown from floats. I made everyone earn their beads by at least catching them! Martha used a plastic sword (from the Cleopatra float) to catch her beads!
We laughed about the crazy parade traditions and how many refuse to pick up "ground beads" that hit the street before being caught. I showed a picture that I took of the streets being cleaned after a parade.
Putting Beads to Use
Besides wearing beads, we talked about other uses. I showed more pictures of how trees and fences in New Orleans are decorated.
The Louis Armstrong Room!
I broke "Lent Rules" and did a late Mardi Gras celebration (On Thursday) with my wonderful group at The Crescent. Not only does the skilled nursing facility use New Orleans as a theme for every hall and room and piece of art, but I have a number of Louisiana residents who were excited to teach me more in our 2 hour gathering than I learned on my trip to NOLA!
Mary Lead the Group!
She laughed about the parties she attended as a young girl and how her mother hoped she wouldn't get the baby in the King Cake. "That tiny trinket earned you too many responsibilities for the next year's celebrations!" Mary praised the police who made the parades as safe as they could be and she laughed about catching potatoes and cabbages at St. Pat's Day parades, as well.
It was amazing to see such a new resident, appear so at home. "When my daughter found this place, she knew I'd love it!" Mary laughed. (There aren't many nursing homes with hallways named Bourbon Street, I guess. ) She said she felt so comfortable at The Crescent, she hoped to live there until the day she died. "When I die, they can cremate me and take my ashes to New Orleans and place 'em right on my husband's grave!" This was a woman who knew what she wanted and seemed mighty pleased about it. Wow! Is that the power New Orleans has over its people? I had to smile!
What Did I Learn?
Older Than Any of Us!
All of my senior groups seemed pretty impressed by these cards, from back in the day, when cupids and lace ruled. We were amused to read a couple "Guess Who" signatures and to discover some postmarks from 1910. All in all, we began to feel pretty good about our young selves. These cards, from as early as 1890, were all older than any of us!
Feeling good about ourselves...
Harps and Arrows!
So we kept it light with some pondering over the absurdity of those crazy cupids and their role in the holiday! I brought along the zither so we could create some of our own "harpish" cupid music! Betty got pretty good at plucking out the melody of Brahms' Lullaby, which we thought was an appropriate love song... for a baby!
Movie Star Couples
We talked about Romantic movies and Romantic couples. Which stars had the best chemistry? Which stars really fell in love? Then we got off on tangents of who was still alive and it got a little sad. One sweet friend in my Alzheimer's group couldn't get over the news that Clark Gable was no longer with us.
The Older the Song the Better
Music That Conjures Memories
A few winced when I jumped to "love songs" of the sixties. "She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" didn't seem to hold any sentimental value for these folks who were probably young parents at that time. They didn't find anything slow or romantic about "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" either!
Music for Dancing
The Most Touching
"Some Enchanted Evening" seemed to be the song with the most sentimental impact. With my first group, I hesitated playing the piece since there was something so sweet and sad about the recording. But I also knew it could have a magical way of delighting these folks... who can be like giddy teens sometimes! With the piano intro, the group became so suddenly still that I worried. The voices that usually holler over each other began to softly recall the song... then describe wonderful images and places. "That was a song my husband and I used to dance to." "It makes me want to be sitting and watching a sunset with someone special!" "I'm thinking of a quiet restaurant, with dim lighting..."
Martha covered her face and I could hear her sigh. I held my breath, ready to break the sad spell, then Martha's hands came down and there was a big smile, although her eyes looked wistful. "That is so beautiful!" She started and the others chimed in. We listened and talked through the piece a while longer. Such a sweet moment.
What Did I Learn?
We all agreed that Valentine's Day can be tough especially for those without love and those who are missing loved ones. But in all our groups we focused on how fortunate we were to have each other.
A lot of hugging happened around the Quilt this week!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.