A large group of residents were sitting in the activity room. I was about to pass out the stuffed animals. When I first got there, I asked a few of the ladies if they wanted to be the “teacher’s pet” and do a job for me – arrange the stuffed animals on the two tables in the front of the room. Three ladies volunteered and arranged them just like they were arranging items for a display at Macy’s – all one color or type together, all the cats to the left, the Teddy Bears in the front, and the scary ones in the back.
And how did I get this supply of stuffed animals? It was very good luck and the generosity of a mom whose name was Kristen from Yardley. She had heard of our need at her synagogue and she wanted to help. The problem was that she worked in Montgomery County and with our schedules, we were not able to connect with the logistics of the stuffed animal transfer from her car to mine.
I just mentioned where I was going on Friday and she said that the facility was located ON HER WAY to work. She dropped them off to the receptionist and when I got in there……large trash bags of the cutest, furriest most lovable critters awaited me.
So the ladies arranged them and almost all of them went to new adoptive homes – how could so many be given away. It is a funny thing. I can’t be stingy about how many each person gets. They were all donated to me by wonderful “strangers.”
There was one big powder-blue Teddy Bear. It had a Menorrah on the front of it.
Oh, I have to take this one for my room-mate. She doesn’t come out for any of the activities. She is Jewish. She will love it. It is adorable.
Another lady took about 12 stuffed animals from the table. She placed them in the trash bag and sat the bag on her lap for an hour. I wondered if I should say something but really didn’t want to……..since I had such a wonderful bounty from Kristen’s donation.
I want to play Santa Claus. That’s why I have so many. Do you see all of the people sitting in the hallway? I am going to go around after lunch and pass them out.
During the beginning part of the program, a Polish lady laughed. I am not sure if she was happy with the stuffed animals or if she was just laughing at something she was thinking about in her mind. Then she started crying, sobbing and actually was distracting to the others because they couldn’t hear the music on the Christmas video that I was showing. One lady told her to SHUT UP. Another one said in an annoyed tone SHE IS ALWAYS CRYING.
But another lady, the one who had taken the 12 stuffed animals, wheeled over to her and said, Don’t cry. It is going to be alright. Here, hold this bunny. I am here with you. You’re going to be okay. I will stay here with you. Don’t cry.
The Polish lady doesn’t understand English. Can you even imagine how that would be if you were in a nursing home in Poland and no one understood you; and you didn’t understand television or the lyrics of the songs? Not just for a day, day after day, after day. And the staff, the other residents, and the doctors….nobody to talk to or laugh with or cry with.
Then I thought about her age and what was going on in Poland when she was in her late teens. I am guessing she is about 85-years-old. World War II was raging through Europe for many years, many Christmases, many loved ones taken and ……the horror of that time. And so many gone forever and she is still here – alone with her memories and no one understands her.
Was she remembering? Was she trying to forget the never to be forgotten scenes from her past? What we can never even imagine.
And so to the families that donate……you never know, your really never know what pain your little bunny or cat or bear might soothe for a minute or two…when someone like the Polish lady is given a furry little animal, to help her and maybe stop her tears for a little while.
The lady with the 12 stuffed animals talked to her in a soothing tone like she was a little baby. This encounter appeared to me like an angel visit. The Polish lady calmed down. The 12 animal lady was needed. And I witnessed a random act of kindness that I will never forget.