My younger kids were invited to an Easter egg hunt yesterday at the local nursing home. The kids, of course, had fun gathering candy-filled eggs. The residents had just as much fun, all lined up at the windows to watch the kids.
I’ll write more about the nursing home in a minute, but sticking with the topic of Easter for now, this morning my kids got to attend another egg hunt. Lots of people donated filled eggs, then at the beginning of our church service a couple of us slipped outside to hide the eggs for the kids. After Sunday school was over, the kids got to go outdoors and hunt for eggs. We had a separate area for the younger kids (the eggs were clearly visible, scattered around the grass). The older kids thought that their eggs were just sitting there openly in the yard, too, but discovered that there are hiding places in a seemingly empty field. Slight depressions in the ground allow for eggs to be hidden “in plain sight.” A few fallen leaves or small branches are easily ignored, and it took the kids a while to realize that the tiny overlooked brush was concealing treasure. They had a great time.
After the Easter egg hunt, our church had a brunch. It was really nice to hang out and visit with people. We didn’t feel the need to rush home and get food onto the table. Everyone contributed a little bit and there was everything anyone could possibly want to eat. Our church has so many people with dietary restrictions that people are pretty good at being careful with ingredients. The eggs were all from ducks, so those of us who can eat duck eggs but not chicken eggs were able to partake (those who eat chicken eggs weren’t informed that there was a difference). There were non-dairy options. Lots of fresh fruit. We also have a number of people who are gluten-intolerant, and options were available for those people, too.
It was a great Easter.
As for the nursing home, I’ve taken my kids there weekly for the past eight years. We started going because it seemed like a good thing to do; people without visitors need to see people, we had time, and I thought it would be good character training for my kids. We’ve all come to love it, and continue to go (despite our much busier schedule).
To tell the truth, I wasn’t too keen on the idea at first. I’d had extremely limited exposure to old people. Extremely limited. The only time I’d ever had anything to do with anyone who could be remotely considered “old” was my freshman year in college. My psych professor required everyone to do a “project.” To this day I’m not sure how it happened, but my project ended up being an internship on the geriatrics ward of the state mental hospital.
That’s the only old people I’d ever been around. I’m the oldest child of oldest children, so my grandparents weren’t old. In fact, one time I commented on a photo that friends had on their wall, “Is that Jim with his grandparents?” and was met with an icy stare, “That’s his parents.” A couple years later the same friend attended my baby shower — and afterward said, “Now that I’ve met your mom and aunts and grandmothers, I understand why you thought that was a picture of Jim’s grandparents.”
So the only old people I’d ever known were certifiably crazy, and I thought maybe I would be viewed the same way for considering exposing my precious offspring to anyone like that! But we went, and you know, I discovered that the people on a locked ward at the mental hospital are very different from the nice folks who just can’t move around well enough to stay in their own homes anymore.
Am I going to make a point with all this rambling? I hope so. A few times I’ve considered writing about the nursing home. Because of RA.
Some of the residents are there because they have RA. I’ve talked to people who lived a long time with RA. I’ve seen some of the damage that they live with.
The side-effect lists on RA drugs are pretty scary sounding, but they’re nothing compared to the permanence of what happens to people who don’t have access to treatment. Having seen what can happen, I’m highly motivated to do everything I can to combat this disease. It’s because of what I’ve seen at the nursing home that I make sure to take my meds and keep my doctor’s appointments – even when I’m feeling well.