Dia de los Muertos

This is fun! I like impressionism or whatever you wanna call it!
All I do to acknowledge this holiday is wear a blouse with skulls as the pattern. I don't mention it to anyone because of respect for H....who is dying in her room, surrounded by family, or so another resident tells me. Of course, I wouldn't talk about death in a care home unless it was brought up by a resident. Today I see four different groups - three of which are able to do some sort of art and the other - they sit and stir only slightly - two women and a man. The caretaker says they have just eaten so "don't expect much." I start to scribble with a marker. I ask them if they'd like to use the markers. Slowly one lady shakes her head and says, "Boy." I ask her if she would like to sing and she smiles and shakes her head and says, "Boy." So I pull out my trusty ole' phone and plug in "Apple tree song" and voila! A beautiful song about not sitting under the apple tree. Eyes begin to open a bit wider. I hum along with the song. I turn the phone off and sing the verse softly. I then take one soft old hand in mine and swing it gently. She smiles. I look at the other two watching us. I begin to sing the tune again, this time asking if I can hold their hands. They smile and offer me their hands. We swing our hands slowly and out of the mouth of the old man who never talks are some of the words...wait for me under the apple tree....We swing our hands and sing the verse at least a dozen times. I smile. I am an art therapist. I guess we are making art with our movements. I wonder if this  has helped them any. I fight back a tear and say a little prayer. The song is from the 50's and is a classic - maybe late 40's. But I have heard it before and in my untrained voice hold on to those lyrics for at least 15 minutes.

But the other groups are able to paint and to talk about stippling and ooh and ahh at the art of Vincent van Gogh and listen to Don McLean's version of "Starry Starry Night." Oh, Vincent, you would be proud....

At first some of the ladies state they don't know what to paint. I model how to stipple using the edge of the brush. One begins to make a tree and asks if it looks okay? I ask her what she thinks and she says she doesn't know. Another white-haired lady says, "It looks beautiful." Smiles all around.

Another groups finds a lady who wants to paint all afternoon! She says she has never been to an art gallery. Note to self: see if I can arrange a field trip to one! Another lady says, "I don't know what I am doing." But she has a great smile on her face and when her daughter enters the room to visit her, the daughter exclaims, "Why, Mother, you used to love painting" and then points out that her reddish marks are the exact color of the birds on her shirt.

The surprise of the day comes from a gentleman who used to teach vocational education and seems quite proud of the fact that at least one of his 8 children visits him. "I must've done something right. Maybe not, 'cause the other 7 don't visit." But he smiles when everyone at the table compliments him on his trees.

He seems quite satisfied with his work and adds, "I know quite a bit about trees." He is thrilled we might go to a museum. "Anything to get out of here once in a while...," he adds. Mental note: I must figure out a way to get the more ambulatory ones out to the local museum. I must....


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