We recently had to cancel plans for an elderly home performance due to the outbreak of the flu. Unfortunately, all the residents were quarantined as to prevent the spread of the flu throughout the elderly home. This particular performance was supposed to be dedicated to one of the residents I’ve known for quite a while so I’d like to take some time and talk about her and what she’s taught me in today’s blog post.
I’ve known Einez for two years now ever since I started volunteering at her elderly home. I first met her in cafe on the first floor when I was responsible for preparing tables, utensils, and the like. Einez was the one who taught me how to fold napkins into those fancy shapes you see at restaurants. After a couple months, however, I realized that I stopped seeing her on the first floor. I asked around and soon learned that she had been moved to the third floor.
The third floor is reserved for dementia patients. Other than the emergency exit, the only way in and out of the third floor is an elevator locked with a passcode. Unsure of what to expect, I was intimidated stepping into the third floor, but when I entered the passcode and the door opened, Einez and her dog Gigi heartily welcomed me.
Over the past several months, there have been times when Einez has forgotten who I am, but for the most part, she is lucid. We play a lot of Jenga nowadays to keep her dexterity intact. Despite beating me most of the games, she insists that we are a team when we play Jenga, not competing opponents. At first, I didn’t really understand because it seems absurd to play a two-player game with only one team, but Einez doesn’t view our games as a competition. Whenever I push a block out half way towards her side, she helps out and finishes taking the block out all the way. As a “team”, our current record is 31 1/3 levels.
I think Einez’s instinct to not compare herself to others and only focus on progress -- even in a silly game of Jenga with a high school student -- is something I and the rest of my generation can learn from. With the advances of technology, medicine, business, and a whole range of other fields quickly accelerating towards the future, the tendency to compare ourselves to our seemingly more accomplished peers is strong. But even in her declining health, Einez only focuses on lending a helping hand, be it to her family, her caretakers, or the other residents. Perhaps her age and the ability to reminisce upon the past decades gives her more clarity as to what is important in life. It would be a waste to ignore such insight. Out of gratitude for the little games we shared and the large life lessons she has unknowingly imparted, I hope AHR can organize a performance at her elderly home soon.