In Praise of Activity Directors

During the month of November, many people like to take a little bit more notice of the things for which they are thankful. The older I get, the “things” on the list grow fewer and the “people to be thankful for” on the list grows longer and longer. Today, I’m feeling a wave of praise and thanksgiving wash over me as I think about one special person.

Can you see the joy in mom’s face as she responds to the accordion music?

It was probably 2019, but it seems not so very long ago, when I arrived at BeeHive for a visit and lunch with my sweet momma. As I stepped into the door of the home, I spied my mom seated in a circle with her friends at BeeHive. Judging by all of the pool noodles and the balloon in the middle of the circle, BeeHive’s gregarious activity director had just finished leading a group chair exercise session. The residents, faces still flushed with joy, were listening as Kathleen continued on with an exercise of the mind, asking them to finish phrases like:

  • Practice what you ________.
  • Better late than ________.
  • Laughter is the best _________.
  • A woman’s work ___ _______ _____.
  • Birds of a feather _______ _______.

The residents seemed to enjoy this activity very much, but it was easy to see that mom’s participation level was very limited. Marked hearing loss and seriously impaired cognitive ability made it almost impossible for mom to participate in a meaningful way. But, I noticed one thing that was very special – it was the way mom was looking at Kathleen. There was love and admiration in momma’s eyes.

Very few activities captured mom’s attention for long, but Kathleen patiently encouraged her to try. If mom would wander away or was otherwise not engaged in the activity itself, Kathleen did her best to draw mom into the circle and strived to include her in the camaraderie of her fellow residents as an observer.

Kathleen leading a fun activity (mom is on her right)

Kathleen’s strong voice always carried an endearing lilt of cheerfulness to my mom’s hard of hearing ears. It’s difficult to say how much mom actually heard, or understood, but mom could read the joy and encouragement on Kathleen’s face.

Mom playing Bingo!

I will be forever grateful for Kathleen’s part in making my mom’s final leg of her journey toward her heavenly home a more pleasant one. Now that I’m baking a few days a week at BeeHive, it’s such an honor to be able to continue to witness Kathleen fill our assisted living memory care home with buzz and excitement. She now works alongside a sweet cohort in all things fun named Julia. Whether they are painting fingernails, calling out Bingo, playing cards, leading in chair exercises, making a beautiful art project, or decorating (and eating) delicious cupcakes, they make such a nice team in bringing a few moments of joy and a whole lot more buzz to the hive.

Happy Birthday to George!

Not too many Saturdays ago, we were blessed to gather and celebrate this boy’s 9th trip around the sun. George is our youngest grandchild and I’m still trying to take in the fact that he’s nine.

The birthday boy sat at one end of the table with Wayne and I seated to either side. As he chatted with us over our lunch of his mom’s homemade chicken pot pie, we both looked at one another in astonishment as to how much this boy knew and how well he communicated. When did the little boy disappear, and how did this more mature and articulate boy sneak up on us?

Most years the grandkids in my daughter’s family ask me to bake their birthday cake. This year George wanted cupcakes. More specifically, he wanted Pokémon cupcakes. I don’t know much about this gaming trend, so Beth sent me some Pinterest photos of what he had in mind. I had fun with it and came up with these.

I always look forward to seeing each grandchild’s reaction when they first see their birthday cake. Our all-smiles birthday boy wrapped me in an excited hug and told me his birthday cupcakes were perfect. (Grandma was all smiles too.)

I know that there may come a day when my grandkids no longer ask me to bake them a cake. Perhaps there may even come a day when this grandma can no longer bake them a cake. For now, we will just keep on celebrating each birthday milestone God grants us, and I’ll keep on doing my best to make their birthday cake wishes come true.

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