“For it is in giving that we receive.” St. Francis.
I had signed up at the beginning of the year to intentionally show kindness to someone else in the greater community as part of the church’s 365 project. The idea is to have every day of the year committed to. Our date was January 26. Little did we know at the time of signing up that it would be the last day (we hope!) at Vernon’s Newport Subacute home. But I had thought our project would probably center on the nursing home residents, as we have such access to them, and they are so easy to give to.
I wanted the kids to be involved…and even Vernon, if possible. So the trick was how to make this a family affair. The kids and I could make mini-paintings as gifts for some of the patients, but when I realized it would be Vernon’s last day, it seemed that we should give them out in his name, as a sort of farewell gesture. I don’t know how much the residents got attached to Vernon in his time there or even if many of them will even recognize his absence later, but it seemed appropriate to mark the passage, and say goodbye in the midst of our little ‘kindness project.’
As usual these things involve more than just the immediate family. Pattie at the SC Art Supply donated the thick foam board, and when Sandy dropped by in the evening, she was promptly put to work. It was a busy day and I sort of forgot to start the project till about 9 o’clock. Oops. No rest for the creative, I guess.
Between the four of us, we hashed out over two dozen. odd little paintings. We meant it as a kindness to others, but whenever the kids and I do artwork together, its always a special time—and good soul therapy. If we had stopped right there, we would have already been fulfilled.
We weren’t sure how it was all going to work, but we had also bought a carton of safari animal toys. Some, I know, have a hard time seeing, so maybe they would prefer a little toy they cold hold and feel instead.
In the end, I think we could have brought anything. What delighted them most was having a sweet little child skipping around the lunch room and singling them out with her attention. The choosing of the cards and animals gave her an extra purpose.
Maki, a little shyer about handing out gifts, found an equally important purpose in keeping his dad company whist his sister flitted around the room.
In my mind, I had thought perhaps we could wheel Vernon around from room to room, so he could say goodbye on his own. But he was in a bit of a confused state again today so it worked out best for him and Maki to just chill out on their own anyway. He was still involved in the message. This is what was written on the back of each painting:
And they ARE special. We will miss seeing them. I doubt that our family’s little giving project made a dent in anyone’s lives. But there were some extra smiles.
And that made a small dent in their day. We were smiling too.
There is a Chinese proverb that says: “Every smile makes you a day younger. ” If so, I can’t think of a place that trick of nature would be more appropriate than a convalescent home.