Thursday, April 7, 2011

The things that end up mattering. pt. 1

About a billion years ago, I was asked by the stake to teach monthly Relief Society lessons at a neighborhood nursing home, and I have been doing it ever since. The first time I taught, I went prepared with a standard presentation, including a list of questions to engage my listeners. When I rolled out the first question, an elderly woman on the front row raised her hand.

"Yes?" I said, beaming with teacherly encouragement.

"My birthday is December 5," she said.

Which wasn't, technically speaking, the correct answer. But it was an insightful one--especially for me. I realized right then and there that I needed to come up with a different kind of lesson, one that we could all enjoy. And so I began taking in children's picture books and reading them aloud to the residents who embrace the stories and illustrations with utter delight. I visited this morning and attempted to read ORDINARY MARY'S EXTRAORDINARY DEED, although after a page or two I had to hand the book off to the pianist (aka my stunt double) to finish for me. BECAUSE I AM STILL WHISPERING.

Anyway. Here's what I want to say. All those years ago when I first said yes to this assignment, I had no idea my experiences with these residents who live mostly in the present moment because there is no other place for them to live would mean so very much to me.

I'm lucky.


LucindaF said...

You are very blessed. Only once have I taught a lesson in an elderly facility and it's still one of my favorite memories. I love the baby dolls they hold and one lady had a stuffed animal cat that she pet all the time.

Good times. I hope to do it again.

Louise Plummer said...

Will you come and read to me when I'm you know what?

Anne said...

I used to go with my Grandma because she played Bingo with the group. She knew what everyone's favorite treat was and there was one lady who always wanted a banana and my grandma always had one for her. Really nice memories.

Jayne said...

Please call me when you need a sub!

Anonymous said...

Couple of things to say:

* Read your Saturday Trib column and I recognized those feelings that link grand-babies to grandmothers. I especially feel linked to my maternal grandmother - the one I used to call my "poor grandma." Didn't realize how much she enriched my life.

* I am touched by this post and recognized the link between the nursing home and the nursery class in primary. The participants in those circumstances take great delight in the simple things in life.

Thank you Miss Ann.