The kids have been celebrating Every Monday Matters for several weeks now. We’ve planted bulbs in flower pots to welcome new neighbors; baked brownies for some friends; wrote and decorated appreciation cards to people this month. I know. We’re the best boy scouts ever!
Truthfully, we’re going a little stir crazy with Seattle’s long, dark tea-time of the soul, aka the Endless Winter of 2009. I’m also up for any excuse not to go out in the backyard with the pooper scooper. Come to think of it, my neighbors might possibly be more delighted with my diligence in that area than with our gifts of flowers.
Still, we are persevering. Tonight, we made St. Patrick’s Day buckets and took them to a nearby retirement home to hand out. Lest this sound simple, I assure you, it was not. While trying to decide what to put in the green buckets, I was recalling the church group of my youth and the effort we took to make beeswax candles for the elderly at Christmas.
We sang carols at a local retirement home and handled out our sweet, homemade candles. The next year we were informed that we could visit and sing again, but our well-intentioned gifts had nearly burned down the retirement facility when residents lit them and fell asleep. Incredibly, our church leader had us make candles anyway…just minus the wicks. It must have been so meaningful for those dear folks to receive a glob of wax that year…
I swung by Target after work looking for age-appropriate gifts. I saw denture cleaning kits. Bathtub rail grips. K-Y Jelly. Nothing seemed quite right. Except, perhaps, the K-Y Jelly. (My mother used to work part-time as a medical records consultant for several convalescent homes and observed that many of them resembled Peyton Places with geezers claiming senility for being in the wrong beds.) But I didn’t want to explain K-Y Jelly to my kids.
We ended up assembling buckets with vaseline lip balm, travel packets of tissue, hand and body lotion, and scented shower gels. Also chocolate kisses. We salvaged a few that Katie and Whistler hadn’t yet eaten during assembly. The kids labored over cards. Paige and Katie made hearts and flowers and stamped balloons on colored construction paper. Ryan decided to draw street signs that read: “Keep Out.” And, “No Trespassing.” Ominous cards, but what a GREAT speller!
At the retirement home, we explained what we wanted to do at the front desk. We didn’t have enough buckets for the whole place, so we asked who might most need a visitor or a gift to cheer them up. The staff had a spirited debate over who deserved a gift. Who needed someone. Who was too gruff to even merit a visit from small children. Then they had to discuss who was diabetic. Who had a roommate which required both residents to receive our St. Paddy’s Day treats. It was a delivery deliberation process worthy of a government Special Ops team.
Finally we were armed with a list of room numbers to visit, and we were off. Katie was beaming. Ryan was shy. Paige was winsome. Megan was observant as we handed out our buckets to ensure that we didn’t give lilac-scented bath gel to the gentlemen racing their electronic carts through the hallway.
Back in our car, we talked a bit about growing old. And maybe lonely. And maybe outliving your children or friends or spouses. Ryan wondered over how weathered and worn one man’s feet looked peeking out of the bed covers. Paige promised that she’d come and visit me when I get old one day—even if it smelled where I lived. That’s a nice promise.
It’s just that eventually you reach the point in the journey when your feet are weary and tired and where every day possibly blends into the next even as there are fewer days left to look forward to. I’m glad that not only does every Monday matter, but the days in between are rich with life’s moments too. Gotta make ’em count while you can…