It's The End of June
It's been 6 weeks since I met with any of my Quilt Groups. I miss these dear folks who make me laugh. So I had a little laugh therapy, after all. This photo below, is from my visit yesterday. The rest are photos from past years... thrown in for fun.
A couple weeks ago, I called the directors at the centers where I do my Quilt Gatherings. I told them I was going to have to take a break, to deal with breast cancer. I was touched by the support and well wishes. I was reminded by all, to just get better and return as soon as I was ready.
But I have no clue when that will be. I'm waiting on lab results to determine whether I do chemo before radiation. It could be a very long time and that's tough to think about, when you know that some of these folks are here on this earth for a limited time.
I thought about Silverado, where I started doing Quilt Groups 6 years ago, when my mother was a resident. I was already missing my visits there, where I have the added benefit of being reminded of my mom... with hugs from the staff who remember her. I especially miss the sweet residents I gather with. But at least I don't have to worry about their concern. They don't think about me, unless I'm right there, sitting around the Quilt with them.
So today I was feeling fairly good, almost 2 weeks after my lumpectomy. I felt like I needed to visit some of these special people, in case I am tied up with months of chemo. I headed over in the morning.
I was greeted by a resident dog when I first stepped inside, and then I saw Betty. Her face lit up with recognition, so I plopped myself right down and shared her chair. She innocently asked, "How have you been?" It felt so good to answer with a smile, "I've been good! How about you?" That was all that was needed.
There was music playing in the living room and a young man was engaging a small crowd with a Fox Trot lesson. I joined in a bit and " danced" with a few of my friends who are in wheel chairs. We held hands and swayed and laughed. Ramona leaned in close and asked, "Are we doing our group today?" I was utterly surprised. I'm usually recognized, but I have to remind my friends that I'm the "Quilt Lady". I told Ramona that I had no quilt today... I was just stopping by to visit.
It was delightful watching the dance instructor, guide this special group. One resident told me she WAS NOT about to dance, but he got her dancing. Another resident was cracking jokes and singing along with great gusto, yet when he danced with Ramona he was graceful and gentle. Then the music slowed down and I joined the group in a "Cool Down".
I sat on the floor between Carol and Mary and encouraged them to lift their arms and breath, like our leader... even though my right arm hurt and I was limited, like many of them. Carol, held my left hand and beamed down at me. "I just love to see you!"
Then the man's calming voice began to walk the group through a relaxation exercise. I selfishly joined in! The music was soothing and this guy was talented with his cues and guidance. I followed along as he asked us to close our eyes and feel different parts of the body relax.
I was getting a therapy I hadn't expected. Not only was I melting right into that floor feeling my stress lift, but I was also enjoying that tickle of humor... from when you're about to laugh. Dear Mary, wasn't following his instructions from her wheelchair, but she was holding my right hand. She gently patted the whole time, as if saying, "There, there, there..." And when I snuck a peek at her, she was grinning down at me... and we both laughed like misbehaving girls at church.
After the program finished, I headed down the hall and knocked on Charlotte's door. It took her a minute to recall my face. "Well, I don't have my quilt today..." I helped remind her. She sighed with recognition. "Oh, yes! I do love our discussions. We always talk about the most wonderful things." Then she showed me the camel saddle she'd gotten in Egypt. Then I sighed over the artwork made by a Hopi Indian. She was so delighted when I showed interest in her treasures. "You appreciate things, don't you? When will we be meeting again?" Again, it felt good knowing I didn't need to be totally honest. "Oh pretty soon. I'm planning my next theme." Actually, I am.
I walked Charlotte down to the dining room for lunch. She chuckled about the large hall mirror, where we could check on our hairdos.
I got her settled and said I'd be back soon for our next Quilt Group. I felt like I often did with my mom, when I twisted the truth. Mom raised us to believe white lies are lies. But I learned years back, that the rules are different with Alzheimer's.
I gave a hug and Charlotte laughed with a motherly bit of advice, telling me not to be some kind of "vital statistic". It was a funny moment with an odd choice of words. But we both laughed and I left wondering if she was giving me a secret message.
What Did I Learn? I always learn from my Quilt Adventures. Today, I learned (without my quilt) to trust my instincts. I knew I needed a visit with my old gang, but I didn't know how much... until I headed happily to my car!
A Favorite Theme of Mine
With this theme, we seem to go down one route or another. Historic World's Fair history? State fairs and carnivals? My first group was all about carnivals.
I heard many sweet stories about riding on carousels. Dot reminded me that Papa wouldn't let her ride any other rides at the carnival... except the carousel. Oh she loved the carousel!
How I do love this group. They love music, games, talking at once... but we toned it all down with a little artwork. While some calliope music played in the background, we just talked and colored. Yes, colored. Two years ago I had to explain why that was okay, but the coloring craze has helped me.
I was surprised how many really disliked ferris wheels. But everyone loved hearing about the "Big Wheel" from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. It could carry up to 2,160 passengers at once.
The wooden Ferris Wheel reminded Robert of riding as a kid and making the seat rock. Ms. S saw the photo of the "Big Wheel" when it was first in Chicago, before it was sold to St. Louis for $750.00.
"I remember my grandparents talking about going to the Chicago World's Fair!" She beamed. 1893... so long ago!
The St. Louis World's Fair
No one in any of my groups knew of anyone who had gone to the World's Fair back in 1904.
Looking at photos of the wonderful old buildings and the Grand Lagoon, made me want to go back just 25 years, to ask my grandmother what she remembered. I so wish I'd asked her more questions about being a young girl at the St. Louis Fair!
1964-65 New York World's Fair
I had a few in my later groups who recalled visiting the fair in New York. Some remembered the exhibit, "It's A Small World" with the mechanical dolls from around the world.
Most in my first group were not familiar with the World's Fair at all. A few didn't even live in this country in 1964. It was sweet to listen to the 29-cent record and hear the words that remind us all of that people around the world are really all the same. Many sang along, while others seemed to concentrate on every word.
"There is just one moon and one golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone. Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it's a small world after all..."
Some in my groups remembered trips with family to Disneyland. Martha remembered visiting a center on the ground of the future Disneyland. I was born after Disneyland's opening, but I laughed to share a postcard I bought when I was about 10, when visiting the site of the future Disney World. I think I remember the center being in the middle of swamp lands. But maybe my memory is wrong.
What would you buy? We all wondered. I showed a picture of a large marble pedastal that my great grandparents bought at the St. Louis World's Fair. I couldn't bring the silk scarf that my husband has from his great aunt's visit to the Chicago World's Fair.
Movies and Books
We talked about some of the old musical films that featured carnivals scenes. "Meet Me in St. Louis" was the movie that most recognized. When I played a recording of Judy Garland singing the famous song, there very few who could keep from singing along.
I asked them all to imagine the clothing of that time, with all the layers and stiff collars and lacy petticoats. None of us could imagine enjoying a summer fair in those clothes!
Round & Round
We talked about the rides that thrilled us when we were young, but today make us sick at the thought.
In my last group, we were laughing at stories about the rides that make us dizzy, when Eva caught a glimpse of a little guy going by in the hall.
Our Little Visitor
Since I often have props that are really just old toys, we invited little Josiah to come in and see our toy, with twirling swings!
I couldn't tell what was more fun, watching our little friend trying to spin the toy, or watching the faces of my group as they smiled and laughed and encouraged his play!
What Did I Learn: I have always known, my senior friends are young at heart. They love the goofy toys and props I bring in. But what they love more than playing themselves, is watching a young one totally focused with a toy! What a treat! Thanks, Josiah!
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.