Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aloha Oy

After arriving at my mother's assisted living center yesterday, I started my usual search for her in the Activities Room, and walked into a luau!

They were celebrating Hawaii's admission to the U.S. as the 50th state.

I've written before that I am always impressed with the creativity of the Activities Directors given that they operate with a near-zero budget. Hardly an opportunity goes by for them to celebrate something. When you have 50+ people to keep entertained and engaged, you look for inspiration wherever you can.

They were just finishing up the dance contest when I walked in. The young groundskeeper was participating and helping to lead the dancers. One lady was awarded a special paper crown as Queen of the Dance and she was just delighted!

Everyone had a lei of silk flowers around their neck and those dancing were wearing grass skirts. Don Ho was singing from the portable CD player, streamers hung from the ceiling, transparent plastic sheets with large palm trees hung in front of the windows, and Hawaii-themed graphics adorned the walls.

Rounding out the decorations were two unlit tiki torches, and a portable steel fire pit in the center of the room with yellow, orange, and red construction paper cut to look like flames placed inside.

The food served was a tropical punch and fruit kabobs. Each of the residents was given a napkin with a large, brightly colored tiki face as a parting gift.

I complimented one of the Directors, and she told me that they used to have a big tiki hut that they'd built years ago. It was made of paper bags that the residents had made vertical cuts in to resemble thatch and then assembled into a small, table-top hut.

Mom sat with her eyes closed most of the time. Even when her eyes were open, it seemed she had no clue that there was a party going on and that the place was decorated. She sipped the punch through a super-skinny straw so at least she enjoyed something.

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