by Amanda Janquart
Grandma Bette is all ours on Wednesdays. She began the year as our Spring Room weekly reader and has become so much more than that. We wheel her down the halls and into our class where she has joined us for snacks, listened with patience to preschoolers’ stories, and become a champion of their play with children scrambling to show her their latest creations. Fridays have consistently included passing around cups of popcorn and watching old cartoons or movies like Mary Poppins with the grandmas and grandpas on Willow Cove East. We have a routine and it works. Mondays however, have gone through multiple transformations – always with the residents on Willow Cove East, but with changes in the activities the generations share.
In the fall, Sue Hastings, the Activities Director (and talented musician and joyful person and loving caretaker) played the piano and led us all in songs. The songs were carefully chosen and bring out tenderness and reflection in the seniors; connection in the children. The slow songs, Home on the Range and Edelweiss, can bring me to tears the way they evoke longing. But I darn near sobbed the first time Take Me Out to the Ballgame was sung. It was as if fireworks were going off, the way everyone took notice and joined in. Music is a mighty strong bridge. I couldn’t help but see my own Grandma Grace whenever Sue chose How Much is that Doggy in the Window?
As winter approached, Rhythm Band started up. Shakers were passed out to the grandmas and grandpas and children took turns on the triangles, bells, rhythm sticks, wood blocks, cymbals, and drums (limited to two at a time!). We again took cues from Sue as she directed which instruments to come in and when. Sometimes residents covered their ears, but really though, the group worked hard and we sure sounded great most of the time.
Spring has come and so have cooking projects and table games. Residents of Willow Cove East sit at the tables and children stand between them; a generational daisy chain. We have made edible necklaces by stringing cereal on yarn, dyed eggs, and peeled eggs, adding carrot ears and whiskers to make bunny eggs. On our latest visit, baskets of various blocks were interspersed at the tables and everyone kept busy, either creating with the blocks or simply sitting back and taking it all in. When I stepped back myself, under the guise of wanting to take a picture, my eyes started to fill up yet again. Good things are happening here.