I’d like to tell you tell you about a very powerful Wednesday we recently had at a couple of our partner hospitals:
To start the day there were no kiddo’s at our first location. I invited twin sisters (probably in their 60's) playing Angry Birds on their smart phones to come join in on a little art making. In the meantime, two other women came in, one of them a patient in a wheelchair the other her sister. No one in the room could escape the negativity from the argument they were having. I offered beading to them out of sympathy and to lighten the mood. One jumped at the idea...the other complaining the entire time, but still taking the beads. Finally, one of the twins joins them, also trying to diffuse the situation. Her sister soon joins in, just as pleasant and uplifting as her twin...they make identical necklaces and felt birds and we parted having exchanged information. By the end of our session the argument between the second pair of sisters had been completely forgotten about by the pleasant conversation and they were able to make some wonderful jewelry...eventually some kiddo’s joined in and what started as a rough morning became a colorful and fun day.
Upon arrival to our second location that day, there was a note taped to the art cabinet door from a nurse. It said
"To the Art and Craft Lady” -The family of a patient who passed away in September wanted to "thank you so much" for all you did to help his children while he was in here. I remember him as the kindest father of a large family. He and his wife had adopted some foster kids with special needs, and had some of their own. While he was in isolation at the hospital, we would feed projects in with his four children, wife and aunt. They had been thrilled and grateful to have something to do while at the hospital, and they were finally able to go home with the good news that he was in remission. The nurse told me he had passed away very suddenly due to unexpected complications.
The afternoon continues and we have a good crowd at the table, beading and painting. I passed a woman in the hall in obvious distress and told her she was welcome to come in and join us. She was crying and said they had just had gotten bad news about her husband. Without thinking, I said that sometimes that was the best time to come in. She thanked me and walked off and I felt ridiculous for having even suggesting that I could possible know what is the best thing at a time like that. The Ugly Cancer.
Five minutes later, her entire clan came in one by one: the grown children, mother, his niece and her boyfriend, sisters and the granddaughter. All of them beaded. Some of them painted quilt squares with the patient's name for a fabric art quilt to hang in the room where we have the art making. The mother of the patient was silently sobbing as she beaded her bracelet in the corner...but she recovered and came over to sit with her family as they made art. There was laughter and good teasing, and there was joy in a sorrowful place. This is the center of what we are all about!