A Theme of Mexico
As I headed towards my first group at the community center, I began to worry over my theme. Is Cinco de Mayo more of an American celebration? Since many of the seniors at the Center are from Mexico, would they find my sombrero and maracas insulting?
My group couldn't have been happier with the theme! They took turns putting on the sombrero and we even made up our own version of the Mexican Hat Dance.
They loved the maracas and probably didn't even care that half of my supply came from some preschool music set. And since I always have a few who are happiest when focused on some tiny project, I handed over some colorful electrical tape and let them go to town making the maracas more unique...than childlike.
Making a List
But it was making a list of the things we like best about Mexico, that made the group sigh and smile and remember...and argue!
Not all our Spanish speakers are from Mexico. We have some from Cuba and one from El Salvador. But they all love discussing food and flavors with great passion. When one senior called out "Pupusa!" that caused quite a flurry of discussion. I guess pupusas are Salvadorian, not Mexican!
Each member of our group had something to add, whether it was from fond memories or just picturing Mexico from the movies. When someone mentioned pinatas, I got excited because a few of the ladies began to sing the pinata song. I had only learned recently that there was such a song sung by children to accompany the batting of the pinata by the blindfolded child!
When we were finished and I was folding up the quilt, I was approached with a hug by a woman who calls Mexico home. "Thank you for giving me the chance to think about my Mexico today!" She smiled.
On to Silverado!
Such different groups and always so many surprises. My dear friends at Silverado are always game for hats and instruments. No Spanish speakers in this group, but lots of enthusiasm and some stories of travel.
I always love sharing instruments, because they can be enjoyed at almost any level. There's rarely a right or wrong to play percussion instruments.
The guiro was a hit, but the maracas were a bigger hit. I wasn't the one who started the La Cucaracha song! But before long everyone was singing it. Then I taught them a silly song about guacamole that they shook the maracas along with my singing.
After the instruments were put down, Harriet laughed about needing a siesta. That somehow lead to a discussion about workers who really labor hard for siestas. Vivian remembered back to living in Port Aurthur, when migrant workers from Mexico labored on nearby farms.
Sometimes our playful games and songs end up leading us to subjects I would never attempt on my own. A few in the group talked about how difficult the work was for the migrant workers who labored in fields during hot summers. We wondered about how hard it must have been to be away from family. With so much negative talk in the news about border control and illegal aliens, it was nice to just hear caring words about human beings.
What I learned...
I learned that my Spanish speaking group and my Seniors with Alzheimer's, are all sensitive, thoughtful people. They share their thoughts with a story or sometimes just a sigh. I wondered if my mother's sigh could have been a moment of recollection... 40 years ago, when she interviewed migrant farm workers for an article.
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.