I'd like to share a story. My wife's 96 year old great grandfather, Ottis Bean, was a family supporter for all his life and now that he's elderly he lives in an assisted living facility. Oh sure, the family goes by to visit but it certainly isn't like when he used to live with the family. Now we see him less often and during the holidays. As time has gone by he has gotten visited even less by most of the family. His daughter, my wife's grandmother, goes by near every day though. She goes by around her work schedule to see if he needs anything and stays for a while just to chat.
His birthday was coming up and I asked if he could have a party? We found out that while it wasn't proper to have a loud birthday bash, certainly a get together with family was allowed. We reserved a dining area in the back of the facility, invited all of the local family and even some distant ones. The family had a couple of months to plan so a few of us got together and baked a custom birthday cake. Great Granddaddy served in the US Navy, during World War One, aboard the battle ship the USS Wisconsin, as a barber. He even owned a barber shop for sixty-five years in the small town, called Montevallo, Alabama, where he lived until he retired. The cake we made had a fondant covering with designs of Navy and barbershop symbols. It even had a fondant barber pole, attached to his barber shop, on it! We brought a small speaker that could play some low background music on the day of his birthday along with food we had ordered from a local restaurant.
The family knew to meet us on the far side of the assisted living facility and his daughter stopped by as usual just to chat. On cue, she talked him into taking her for a walk around the facility. When they arrived in the back his entire family was standing there waiting for him. I brought a small DJ sound system and started the music when he walked in. No, we didn't yell surprise but as he walked around the corner and saw all the people, he looked up and saw a familiar face, then another and another. If I had never seen a 96 year old man overwhelmed with love before, that was the day. It was a beautiful site to see that would warm anyone's heart. He walked over and saw the cake and that brought back even more memories. I had the honor of playing the Tennessee Waltz, a favorite song of his and he danced with his lady friend and got to feel youthful again. I had a feeling that a majority of the facility residents are mostly forgotten by their loved ones. Maybe it was just something that they've grown to expect, knowing people have busy lives. This was a special day for Great Grandaddy and I was so happy to just have been part of it.
Maybe you know a special person in your life or someone else that could use a smile for their elderly birthday. If so, I'd like to be a part of that celebration also. Call me for ideas to make that a special day.
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