I'm a huge believer that I'm overly blessed by God. I don't know why He has given me what He has. Well......that's not true. I know why. Everything we've been gifted with is meant to be shared. Share, give, share, give. It's what life is all about. If we live only for ourselves......we just die inside. To quote a lady I admire, Ann Voskamp, we become the 'living dead'.
I love teaching classes at Sanctuary of Davidson, my little gallery here in town. It is very gratifying to have folks come in, tell me they are not artistic at all, that they feel they are going to screw up their creation, and then watch them walk out with a project they are proud and surprised to call their own.
I firmly believe anyone can create something beautiful with the right instruction. It's lovely and wonderful to see kids and adults, alike, so proud of what they've done. It inspires confidence.
I love that. It's always been one of my prayers. That folks would find a little rest from the world in my gallery. I don't care if they purchase or not (well.....maybe a little), as long as they enjoy what they see.
But......I am also making money off my classes and the sales at the gallery. I have to be honest......money takes away some of my joy. Obviously, we wouldn't be able to do what we do (me, my instructors, my artists) every month if we DIDN'T make money there.......but........it still zaps some of my joy. I feel I should be giving more. Something that doesn't benefit me monetarily or reputation wise at all. I just feel that way. Not every 'gift' I give should be reciprocated with cash.
Flashback 35 years. (Okay.....39 years. But I didn't want to write down my age.)
When I lived in Eastern Kentucky, I grew up going to a nursing home. Not a plush retirement community with movie theaters and hair salons. No, my family went to the one at the bottom of the totem pole. My Great Grandmother, Mae, and her daughter, Gertrude, my Grandmother, lived and died there and we visited every week. I remember dreading it. But then, after a while, I began looking forward to it. Most of the people there were so happy to see us. Most didn't even know who we were but it didn't matter. Some never got visits from anyone.......no one. So many would stay in the same chair all day long and cry or rock back and forth. You couldn't stay more than 5 minutes in the place without hearing at least 2 people yelling out like they were either in pain or sorrow. I think it was sorrow. And emptiness.
So we made the rounds to say 'Hi' to people. If our cat had kittens, we tied bows around their necks, put them in a box and brought them with us. They didn't have shots and were probably full of fleas.....but the older folks loved them. They loved having something to love on. I remember some ladies held onto baby dolls and stuffed animals. They needed something. They needed something to love. They needed a purpose and something to enjoy.
Okay....back to the present.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to teach craft classes at a place called 'The Pines', a retirement community here in town. Oh, it's plush......we do live in Davidson.......but even if your family is paying an arm and leg for your room and care....sometimes you need a little something more. Something to enjoy. Something to look forward to. The residents had been asking for crafts so the Pines asked if I could oblige. I knew this was something I could do and said yes immediately....on one condition: that my kids could come. And to my surprise, they were all for it.
I went first to stake out what it would be like. Only a couple of people showed. They didn't know me and were very skeptical. One lady just sat and watched me. She wasn't pleasant at all. And about halfway through, she grabbed her walker and took off. The rest of us (all 2 of us) made cute little pipe cleaner dolls to give to grandkids or as room decoration.
|This is Anne. Don't let the scowl fool you. She is a hoot. She kept giving the doll back to me to put socks, boots and gloves on. She made me laugh the whole time.|
Very tame and easy. Okay......for next time, I'll just plan for a couple of ladies to show and bring the girls with me. Or....... perhaps I've made a mistake. Maybe these people don't really want me here. Maybe my kids will be uncomfortable and won't help. Maybe this was all a bad idea.
Nevertheless, the girls and I showed up last week to make sun visors so the ladies could have a little face shade on their daily walks.
Oh, boy........they streamed in. And the first lady to come in? My 'walker' lady who wasn't impressed with me the week before. And she stayed the whole time. And was the last to leave.
We had a blast. We ribboned, flowered and 'blinged' up the visors. We laughed and had a ball. My girls LOVED it! And the ladies loved my girls. I believe I had 7 students in all. One lady, Anne, who really does have to be one the funniest women I've ever met, asked for pictures of my girls for her nightstand. Absolutely, I said.
|Anne again. She was laughing hysterically at a joke |
she just made!
This week was a little harder. I put the girls in camp because I decided to do a class in the 'healthcare' side of the retirement home which is the actual 'nursing home'. I went yesterday.
I had forgotten what it was like but as I sat there watching the nurses wheel in ladies, it all came flooding back to me. The sights, the sounds, the smells. I had 5 ladies. 2 didn't want to be there and all 5 were confused at some point during the hour about who I was and where they were. One lady went back and forth from laughing hysterically (which made us all laugh....it was very pleasant) and being very confused. I couldn't understand much she said but her
laughter filled the room and made me smile the entire hour.
We made 'stained glass' flower vases and tissue flowers to go in them. They looked beautiful and the ladies liked them. And I loved it. I loved being with them. It didn't matter that they asked my name a millions times and I needed to do most of the crafting for them. It was just spending time with them. Getting to know them a little. Giving them something beautiful to sit on their night stands.
I don't know if most people would have enjoyed that afternoon, yesterday, the way I did. Not because I'm some grand person.....no way. But, I remembered this. I recognized it all. Even the people in the halls who didn't come in.....the way they 'walked' themselves in their wheelchairs......the conversations I heard......I remembered this. I've missed it. I felt like I was home....just a little bit. I remembered my 2 Grandmothers. Maybe loving these sweet ladies at the Pines is a way for me to keep loving Gertrude and Mae, if only in a small way.
The girls and I go back next week to the retirement side of The Pines to make more vases and flowers. Lilly and Molly can't wait.
Neither can I.