Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Opie watches Gene Kelly...and we lose Richard

Opie and I had a therapy visit with our elder friends in Wiscasset this morning. We were a little early and when we walked in their was a Bingo game going on in the kitchen.

"Hello, Opie!" I heard some of them yell out.

Opie and I meandered to the parlor where we hold court and Sylvia and Ruth were watching an old Gene Kelly movie. They have a pretty big screen and Opie was immediately mesmerized by it. We all got a chuckle out of it, and while he commenced with sharing his love with his friends, he kept stopping, and turning to the screen to watch. I am quite pleased his first film experience was one of class-Gene Kelly dancing is a good introduction for little Opie into entertainment.

Soon the other elders arrived. Joe was all gussied up to go out to lunch with his son, and a movie. He explained his purple coat was from his war time in Korea. He was in good spirits as always, he always makes everyone's day...such a fun man, such a good spirit and attitude.

A young girl was also there, of special needs. She comes to play Bingo with her friends and she was so excited when they told her a goat was coming. She asked me if Opie could be her friend, and of course I said, "Yes," then she hugged him. I asked if I could take her photo and she obliged and I said I'd find a way to get her the photo. She asked,

"Can you be my friend?"

"Yes, I can, and I am," I said. She beamed, and shook my hand in such earnestness. So meeting her and watching her interact was really wonderful and I think it was one little root being exposed as we evolve our work with elders. I want to do more with special needs, and today was a reminder that these things -if I let them-evolve at a graceful pace, depending on the outward branches from the tree I'm sitting in.

I think Bingo and the Opie visit might be a lot for them. Mary started falling asleep.

Last visit, I knew Richard had gone off somewhere. We are never told where, nor are the residents. It's the way it is in any elder facility, no matter how small. We didn't know if we would return, be sent to another place where there would be more nurse care...or...other things.

These people don't really fear death, I don't believe. They've seen it over and over, just as I have, and you reading have too. By the age these people are, they know what is coming. But I do think, speaking only to some of them in casual manner over the last year, that they all want one thing- a good death. We all do. I want that for them too.

I have grown attached.

When I arrived, I always do a quick scan and check in my head as to what faces I see, and what faces aren't there. There are only 8 residents there. Since I know them now, and we have a comfortable relationship, I asked if they had heard anything about Richard.

"He died," Evelyn told me quietly.

"Oh no, I'm so sorry," and I held her hand.

"But he isn't suffering now, he was such a nice man."

I'm so glad I got to spend as much time as we did with Richard. He was wheelchair bound and when we first visited, he didn't stay long, he didn't smile. Next visit, a bit more of a smile. And then...he was calling Opie over each visit. Richard was the one who got to hold Opie's first birthday cake while we sung to him.

I know that many of the people I get to know, and grow fond of, will die. It's going to be..tough sometimes. But I will look at it in one way-they go out loved, and feeling like someone cares, be it helping them get dressed, or taking time to bring over a cunning' little goat, as Evelyn says. I'm just glad I can do this.

I really love these guys.

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Kayla, a very special, special needs child, our new friend

The always graceful Jeanne

One of my favorite photos of Joe-his look here, grabs me

I wasn't privy to this conversation with Joe and Evelyn

Mary dozed off, a morning of Bingo and then Opie is a lot

Mary and Opie

Sylvia just loves Opie