Boats and Ships
I've collected a few more oddball boats and ships since my last gathering with this theme. Once again, everybody had their favorites.
And of course everyone loved the hats, too. The Coast Guard hat was a favorite. And the sailor hats got one group off on a tangent about Popeye... and spinach.
Reminded of Memories
As some handled the more simple boats, I saw smiles of recognition. There were reminders of peaceful fishing boats and summer camp rowboats. It made Margie remember a paddling a boat years ago. She threw her head back laughing as she recalled a friend leaning over the edge to grab a lily pad and nearly toppling the boat.
My sweet friend Robert was the only one with real ship memories. He shook his head and said he had so many stories of time spent aboard a ship during World War II. When asked about the food they served, he said he couldn't complain. Turns out, Robert also spent some time in a submarine. He said that was the worst. "Had some bad dreams on that." Then he sort chuckled and added, "But the food wasn't bad." I had to smile, because Robert always reminds us, that he's "blessed to be here." He never complains.
This hand carved canoe reminded a few of making boats as children, out of toothpicks or paper.
J laughed as he remembered creating a boat, big enough to take a ride. He and his brother "borrowed" their mother's wash tub to use in a nearby lake or river. He grinned and made a spinning motion with his finger, to show what happens when you try to paddle a round wash tub. He didn't stop smiling when he mentioned that he also, "got the belt" when his mom found out. I could tell he thought it was totally worth the belt.
The groups counted along with me as I made a silly show out of the folding production. 10 folds and we had a boat. All clapped.
A Lively Table
I usually prefer an isolated room for my groups, where all can hear each other's stories. But the large living area was the only available space at one center. With all the extra distractions of pets and nurses and visitors surrounding us, we just turned up the music and let it become a party.
There were no real Beatles fans in this crowd, but it was hard not to sing along with "Yellow Submarine". And Peter, Paul & Mary's version of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" encouraged a few to sway and hum. I had one newcomer to the group who approached, afterwards to thank me with a timid smile. "It was nice joining you all. It made the time go by faster... The days seem so long." She seemed so aware of the new world around her at the Alzheimer's residence. It reminded me so much of my mother when she first arrived in the very place, 10 years ago. I assured her we'd be getting together for more fun.
This little carved fisherman and his boat was the favorite in my last group.
In the past there have been big discussions about cruise ships and boating sports. But my groups this year were more inclined to focus on the simple boats.
One group brainstormed different kinds of boats, without motors. We thought of Tom Sawyer on his raft, Native Americans in canoes, graceful and quiet small sailboats and simple fishing boats like these in Guatemala.
No Need for Boat Photos & Props
A circle of wheelchairs was already waiting at the table when I arrived at my last stop. I rarely see the same faces twice at this center, so I introduced myself as I spread out the quilt.
Before pulling out the props, I began to explain a little about what we do in the Quilt Group. As I reached for my large bag of props, I could see hands touching the quilt. Voices were beginning to share and comment. Turns out, everyone in this group had a quilt memory to share.
Boat Talk or Quilt Talk?
I ended up leaving the books and photos of boats in my bag. The few props I'd pulled out, were shoved to the other side of the quilt.
These folks were drawn to the quilt, not the boats. One frail woman spoke a few words to her son in Spanish. He then told the rest of us about the quilts his mother had made. I wasn't sure how much she could understand, but her smile was so large and her eyes, so focused. Others began to tell stories of their own projects... or their mother's quilting frames, or the fabrics that they loved the best. I needed no props.
I usually have so many things covering the quilt. I forgot that new visitors don't need all the extra stuff.
On this day, the Quilt's faded fabric (and its not so fine stitching) was enough to draw people in and get conversations started. With such little prompting, words seemed to spill from the guests seated around the table. The mother and son touched me the most. They communicated with a few words here and a nod, smile and gesture there... and then the son would share what his mother said.
What I Learned: I need to talk less and listen more.
The mother and son were the first to depart as we finished up. I reached for the woman's fragile hand to thank her for coming. She took my hand and held it. Then, when she spoke in English to me, it was suddenly clear that she had understood all I had been saying. "Thank you so much. " She said softly. "You are a gift..." She didn't let go as she spoke a while longer. I could have argued with her, because She was obviously the Gift! She and her gracious son! After they left the room, one woman remarked in surprise. "Her son told me she hasn't spoken since she came here!" It was odd to realize how the quilt all by itself, spurred on so many good memories. And those memories urged one woman to speak!
I need to lug less and jabber less... and hear more!
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.