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!
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.