A weekly-ish look at stuff I had fun doing or finding or thinking about this week, mostly outside the pages of a book.
If I have any advice for you this week, it would be this: when you have an opportunity to put yourself in the path of good people doing good things, use it.
To that end, I attended a concert this week given by the Side by Side Singers of First United Methodist Church's Adult Respite Ministry. This program provides care, several hours a day several days a week, for those with Alzheimers' and other forms of dementia or memory disorders, and it enables caregivers to have some hours away for themselves confident in the knowledge that their loved one is in the hands of compassionate and well-trained volunteers.
The Side by Side Singers grew into being when Jack Horner, the recently retired Minister of Music at my church and his sidekick, pianist Mickey McInnish, invited those in Respite Care to come sing--side by side--with their caregivers and others who just love singing, too. I don't know all their stories, but I am sure some of these beautiful people were once pillar and post in church choirs or civic chorales. This photo essay by photographer Luke Lucas captures so many of these wonderful relationships.
It is impossible for me to describe what sitting in that audience felt like, but whatever emotion the words pure joy summons up in you would come close. Music memory is profoundly powerful; we've all experienced that in some way. I got a real dose of it myself when I realized that words to songs I learned many decades ago during elementary school music assemblies came back to me as though I'd been rehearsing them daily. And what I also knew, sitting in that audience, is that were my Mama still living she would have eaten this with a spoon. I happily imagined sitting there with her, Side By Side.
This ministry deserves emulation. If a program like this is something your community needs, I hope you will consider being in touch with its director, Daphne Johnston.
Since embarking on this practice retirement of mine, I've made good on a promise to do more letter writing and note-sending. While written responses in return would be lovely (hint, hint!) that's not really been the point. This week one of those letters bore fruit, via phone call, from one of my Mama's cousins. His mother, my Great-Aunt Lena, was just about my favorite person and her summer visits were true highlights of my childhood. She was the Postmaster of David, Kentucky, and one didn't dare call her "Postmistress," because as she said once in my earshot, "I do not carry on with the mail." I hadn't been in touch with Cousin Joe for years, and wasn't even sure the address I'd finally found for them was still valid. But I wrote, and took a $.44 chance that it might be. Well, Cousin Joe called this week! We had a wonderful conversation, and made promises to remain in touch - via letters and phone calls.
And finally, I've been very deliberate about trying new foods in recent years. There was a time not long ago when I would not eat asparagus, okra, tomatoes, oatmeal, or strawberries, and now they are such mainstays in my diet I can't imagine what I did before. (Okay, I'm still struggling with tomatoes, but I've come a long way.) Yesterday I had lunch with my sisters-in-law, and there was something that looked very diet friendly on the menu: Seared Tuna on a bed of Cauliflower Tabbouleh. Huh. I knew what all these things are, of course, but I don't like cauliflower, and couldn't figure out how they made tabbouleh from it. But heck -- why not? And my goodness, it was good! Even better, when I got home to plug it into my WeightWatchers journal I discovered that it is incredibly points-friendly, and there's even a recipe for it on their website. I will be trying this at home, but please -- nobody tell my husband because he will not eat it if he knows what he's eating.
Somebody who knew this was a thing should have told me, so I'm telling you in case you don't know.