At the Mansion today, perhaps the sweetest birthday party I have ever had. Once a month, the Mansion gathers people with recent birthdays, hires somebody to sing, and serves cake and cookies.Since my birthday was this past Tuesday, I was invited to come to the Mansion for some cake, a gift bag and to sing Happy Birthday.
I was flattered and pleased to be invited and included. I see that the Mansion is becoming a part of my true family now, along with Maria, my friends, the dogs and farm animals. This is where I belong, I thought, this is where I should be, this is where I feel so comfortable.
Jane showed me her beautiful new water-color, Peggie gave me a beautiful birthday present, a painting of Red and Gus, Art talked to me about his ministry. I helped Joan come down the stairs and watched her beautiful face as she sang along (see video just below) with Red at her feet, and offered some cake to Madeline. I danced for a bit with Barbara.
Maria came also and we helped to distribute cake and presents and sang along with the country singer who came to sing for the party. I even got my own gift bag with some dark chocolate inside.
Art came in for the celebration and Mary and Jean blew me birthday kisses from across the room. Alanna asked me if I had accepted that Fate wouldn't hurt the sheep.
I was mesmerized by Joan singing along with Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." Joan has severe memory issues, and it seems that music and/or a dog can pull her out of herself, she is quite beautiful and expressive.
I was so touched by the beautiful image of her listening to this music and reacting to it. The people at the Mansion can be poignant and heartfelt beyond my words, what a shame we have forgotten the elderly and pushed them away from us. It is our loss, they are well worth knowing.
Come and see:
I felt loved and much appreciated there, and i hope the people I have come to know and love feel the same way. I'm not sure I will ever understand my connection to the place, but it very real. I know who likes to get mail, who likes what kind of books, who misses their dog or cat, who can't remember what they said two minutes after they said it. Red is so loved there, everyone wants to see him and touch him, and he loves to work there.
Maria is a part of my life in every way, and the residents have come to know and love her as well, she sat and chatted with people and helped them get their cake and then, clean up. The staff is so generous and loving, it pierces the heart sometimes to see how hard they work and how much they sacrifice.
The Mansion is a special place, full of heart.
Red no longer needs direction from me, he goes from one friend to the other, he is democratic and sensitive and intuitive, he knows the ropes.
Over time, the residents have become known to me, their quirks and fears. We have become more valuable to one another. I think I am getting to know how to really help some of them, it takes awhile. I even got a handshake and some smiles from some of the grumpier men, who shunned being photographed and said they dislike dogs.
I brought a proof of the resident's short stories to show them, "Tales Of The Mansion" which has sold 100 copies at Battenkill Books two weeks before it has even come out. You can pre- order it at 518 677 2515, $10 plus shipping or online, they take Paypal and major credit cards.
There was some applause and two of the writers asked me what stories I was talking about. Time has a different context here.
I loved my birthday party, and am grateful for it. I am grateful to have had a party with my family and happy to sing with the other birthday people.
Other Mansion news. There is a new resident, Winnie, a farm woman. She loves to get mail and especially loves cats (The Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816).
Today, with the help of the Army Of Good, I spent nearly $400 buying tickets on a Lake George Steamboat Company steamboat called the Lac Du Saint Sacrament. We are sending 10 people – eight Mansion residents and two aides – to Lake George in early September for a lunch and boat ride on Lake George.
It's a two-hour boat ride and the Mansion will use its new van and one car to transport everyone. I did a bit of haggling and got a slight discount for senior citizens. The residents are much excited, they have wanted to go for a long time but it's an expensive outing for them. They didn't want to ask me for help, but I overheard the staff talking about their struggles to make this happen. It's happening. A wonderful trip for those who can make it.
If anyone in the Army wishes to contribute to this trip or help sponsor it, you can send a donation "Lake George Steamboat" to me at my post office box, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816 or via Paypal, firstname.lastname@example.org. We are steaming along ourselves.
I have enough money in the Mansion account, the trip is paid for. I have learned that some people appreciate the chance to contribute, and even small donations keep the fun fluid, we have about $2,000 left. No pressure. Tomorrow, I purchase a portable air conditioner for Peggie, and that is, I think, the end of the air conditioning campaign.
A list of the names of the Mansion residents who wish to receive letters, photos, messages: Jean, Ellen, Mary, Gerry, Sylvie, Jane, Diane, Alice, Jean, Madeline, Joan, Allan, William, John, Helen, Robert, Shirley, Alanna, Barbara, Peggie, Dorothy, Brenda, Bruce, John Z., Winnie.
The Mansion address is 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.
Art wishes to hear from people of faith, and Connie can receive messages at Saratoga Hospital, 11 Church Street, Saratoga Springs, 12886. It isn't clear when or if she will be returning to the Mansion.
This was a wonderful birthday week for me all around.