Turns out, Fern has a thing for bracelets. She was already wearing a few on one wrist. The one my daughter made was a welcome addition. She loved it. Put it right on. She asked my older daughter if she were an artist, since the card was so beautiful. She made the letters extra large, congratulating her on reaching 100.
The place was packed, apparently. All of the residents were there, in the dining room, in their wheelchairs or standing with walkers. Some went over to Fern to wish her a happy birthday. One started to, then forgot what she was going to say. Fern’s son (the girls thought he was about 75) sang for an entire hour, with a pianist. My daughter said that Fern sat and watched him, her hands clasped under her chin, smiling. Her grandkids (my age) were there, too, with their own children.
They had cake and ice cream, sugar-free. My kids set up the room, brought the guests downstairs, served, made sure everyone had spoons, and then moved around the furniture when the party was over. The grandkids thanked them for coming to celebrate Fern’s special birthday, and for helping in so many ways.
They said they had a fun time. They felt good that they made the presents. Important work, and I think they realize.
My daughters have been volunteering at a retirement home for about six months. They go on weekends, holidays and now, with free summer days, on afternoons when it is too hot to be outside. In Texas, you stay indoors between noon and four, if you can.
They love old people. They think they are cute. Charming, and funny. They point them out when they see them, particularly the couples. I’m not sure when the fascination began, but as soon as they were old enough, I called around to various homes and found one near our house. The girls have helped with manicures and parties. They have delivered mail, wheeled wheelchairs. They have hung calendars up in rooms…too high, too low, perfect. Served juice. Handed out menus… a highlight.
Yesterday, they got the July calendar, listing all of the events planned for the month. There were word games and wine and cheese, memory exercises, outings to the movie theatre. Today, there is a birthday. Fern Ives is turning 100. They will not miss today. How often do you get to attend such a celebration.
“She doesn’t look 100,” they said. “There are younger people there who look much older.” We figured out that if you are still around at 100, you are probably doing pretty well. Hence, the youthful glow.
The other night, my younger daughter strung a bracelet for Fern. She used beads with letters printed on them and spelled out her name. Put it in a box and wrapped it, with green paper and a pink bow. My other child has chosen to make a card. I am curious to see what she writes. Later, they will arrive early. Big day.