Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Healing through Creativity
As a teenager, I volunteered at a nursing home for a number of years. I loved going there, listening to the same old stories over and over, smiling at the hunched over figures parked in wheelchairs at the front desk.
Most of the residents did nothing all day, just sat and looked with vacant eyes at their surroundings.
There were, however, daily activities for those who didn’t protest at being wheeled or walked to the lounge areas. There were story-readings, crafts, piano playing, even the occasional visit from community children. But one activity stood out to me more than all the others.
Twice a week there was a sing-along. Most of the songs were from an era well before mine. I would watch in awe as the mood in the room changed- hands clapped, heads nodded, smiles broke out. And voices! Oh, to hear these passive, passive people sing softly, then more loudly, a little more, and finally with gusto as the songs erupted.
One lady in particular amazed me. She was sweet and quiet, not much of a stand out. But when she let out her voice, I’m sure heaven opened up. She had been a glamorous professional singer when she was young. Nothing of those days was left, except that powerful, crystal clear voice. When she sang, I no longer saw her as a shadow in the halls, but rather as vibrant, youthful, beautiful- a star! I wished that moment would go on for her.
But, as the songs ended and music faded, she too faded back into her identity as a slumped figure in the corner, a rag doll placed back in the toy box. How I wished for her to keep the music playing in her mind so that she could keep on singing.
The smell of mothballs wrinkles my nose. I blink, turn away, and regain my composure. This is the right box. I remove a yellowing veil, then a round-collared suit jacket, and peer into the bottom of the box. There it is, just as I had remembered it.
I hesitate. Just seeing grandma’s light blue tweed jacket floods my mind with images of the linoleum floor in her kitchen, the rickety chair I stood on to get to the counter, her taking my hand and giving me Georgie, my favourite stuffed bear.
I unfold the coat and put it on, staring at myself in the mirror. For a moment I see her face looking back at me. She is smiling, a tear in her eye.
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