In addition to rediscovering a flock of my mother’s e-mail participation in a lively 2000-01 online discussion about issues in our church (beyond a blessing to reconnect with her wisdom), just came across e-mails written after her fall in Alexandria, VA & continuing to & through most of her stay at St. Mary’s/Langhorne, less than thirty minutes from our Philly suburb home.
It is no mere coincidence that they showed up – after over a decade of being “lost” – just before I head out to the International Association of Gerontology & Geriatrics, next week in San Francisco. Serendipity!
Mom – with an assist from Anne Davis Hyatt & Marie Nice Murphy – is why I am a playfulness coach. In the midst of her hospitalizations, when things were so wretched my mother broke down into tears, she could look forward to reconnecting online with an ever-growing circle of friends & family. She couldn’t go out with me on one of her beloved outs & abouts, but she could indulge in lively banter & a dashing bit of word play.
One e-mail in particular stands out for me as a terrific example of why having an online circle of friends made such a difference to Mom, kept her lively when she felt like death warmed over, entertained her even when she was flat on her back with a disgusting tube up her nose. She was talking about a visit she’d had from our pastor, which lead her into talking about his children (particularly his older daughter who as a 3rd grader swiped Mom’s heart), from Tom to his parents – GE & Marcelite – who lived in Pasadena & were friends of my parents & my older sister, which got her into remembering Harold & Jean Cranch & from them to their daughter Margie & then to her daughters Galadriel & Tirah, then onto memories of my three oldest siblings visiting my uncle’s ranch outside Sacramento.
Mom was flat on her back but over the brief time it took to throw together her posting, she’d had all the fun of being back in our little hometown, Pasadena, Princeton (we always took Marcelite to Princeton when she visited Tom & Nina), Uncle Paul’s ranch, PLUS the precious memories of each friend who came to mind.
If thought brings presence, Mom’s hospital room was packed!
I’ve seen the impact of play & personal connection on Mom, on “Aunt” Benita, perhaps most spectacularly on our dear friend, Anne. Play doesn’t have to cost a cent, offers incredible across-the-board health benefits. That message HAS to get out there, has to be ballyhooed & championed & spread around the globe. Especially in the USA, where our appreciation of the power of play across the age spectrum is abysmal compared to MANY other countries.
My work is cut out for me, but am blessed the Universe clued me in that what I wrote as a sweet sentiment in my very first official All Ages, All Stages blog is 100% true – of all the people, past present future, partnered with me in my spreading the gospel of the power of play in reducing the more negative by-products of aging upward, first & foremost is my mother, Katharine Reynolds Lockhart, MOP**.
** Master of Play