Telling stories at a retirement home this afternoon. I tried some new stories using more audience participation than I usually do with this group. At first the women were a little shy with their part - their voices were low, sort of tentatively whispery. But after three or four repeats and my continuing to urge them they called out loud and strong. By the end even a couple of women who rarely react to the stories had joined in. They seemed to really enjoy the chance to speak-up and I certainly felt good - hearing their voices.
I tell stories for this group once a month. The people coming to listen change, with a few who say they look forward to the stories and would not miss it. The residents range in age from 70 to 92. A ninety year old woman really likes the stories. As I have gotten to know her she has told me her age, that she is legally blind and that she rarely goes out any more. She is not a solitary , seeming to know everyone on a first name basis and she is so easily mobile that I had not suspected how nearly blind she is until she told me. I asked her what kind of stories she would like to hear and she assured me, " oh, any you want to tell. I just enjoy listening and making my own pictures."
Since we do not live near either of our famlies we have not been close-by as our relatives grew older and faced the challenges of aging. Our neighborhood has changed and the older folks have moved out giving way to couples who are raising younger children. In the past ten years Jim and I have become the "older " couple living on the corner.
As they say "growing old is not for the faint hearted." The people I meet when I tell stories in retirement homes are my role
models. Sometimes their modeling is quite scary. But then I have a chance to know someone like my 90 year old friend who meets her days smiling and doing the best she can to "keep on keeping on".