It all started with a kind and thoughtful note from my “niece” Lindsay.
She wrote that she was thinking of our dear friend, Cleo Thompson, who resides at Cortona Park and has been quarantined through these trying times of the coronavirus. Her message was that of encouragement and love. From this thoughtful young woman to her 98 years young pal, Lindsay bridged not only the gap of age but of separation. Here is another story of how human kindness overrides the fear and apprehension of our current times.
After I heard from Cleo that she received Lindsay’s mail, I posted on my Facebook page that I thought she would love to receive more mail that did not start with an occupant, current resident or ask for a remittance of money. The response was outstanding, and Cleo called me every evening to report the count and who the mail was from. One young man named Landyn, the 9-year-old grandson of a friend of mine, became her latest pen pal, and the two have continued their written friendship ever since. From Texas to Arizona, New York, Florida, Nevada, Oregon and all over California, the mail came every day filling her mailbox and her heart with joy. She giggled about how many people, most of whom she did not know, took the time to say hello and wish her well. It was miraculous.
Just when I thought it had peaked, I received a message from my friend Lisa, (who chooses to keep her last name confidential) that she was making Cleo a paper flower arrangement. Extremely artistic and crafty, I could only imagine before I saw the photo that Cleo texted to me, that this was going to really be something special, and I was right. Cleo was beyond words!
Again, I was very grateful, but then Lisa told me she started a group called Friends with Flowers consisting of about a dozen other ladies who all wanted to participate in some way. They decided that every woman living alone at Cortona Park would have a bouquet. The count was well over 60, but that did not deter the ladies, especially Lisa who was cranking out those arrangements like a woman on a mission! At her own expense and with just a few donations of paper, glue, tape and other crafty type items that are foreign to me, Lisa kept up the pace from early in the morning to the evening hours and beyond, finishing three to four per day. I still see her occasionally on Facebook late in the night posting the latest creation she had just finished. Every bouquet takes a long time because they are extremely intricate but each one is beautifully unique with various color schemes.
Since the senior living facilities are all quarantined and no visitors are allowed at this point, the cards, notes and flowers are a welcome distraction from not seeing loved ones in person. The trail did not end there. This is a small community and everybody knows somebody that knows somebody and on and on. I found out that Lisa is close friends with Leona whose mom Patty is a caregiver at Cortona. Follow the bouncing ball, folks! Patty was one of the fabulous ladies who cared for my mom for almost a decade, making this part of my world even smaller. Leona picks up the bouquets from Lisa and gets them to Patty who has the best job. She gets to deliver them to the residents and sees firsthand the joy that they bring.
The constant barrage of frightening news lately has increased anxiety and fear in all of us. Some are alone in their homes wondering when it will be safe to return to what they are calling the new normalcy. I miss hugging my family and friends. We all miss the day-to-day lives that have been changed so dramatically. There is too much anger and hatred but Lisa, Lindsay, all of the thoughtful people that sent letters and drawings and these special Friends with Flowers are doing something to change all of that for our precious seniors, one bouquet at a time.
If you have a talent or wish to join in on Lisa’s group, please email me, and I will forward your information to her. They are hoping to make this ongoing and spread their field of flowers to all seniors. Stay safe and well.
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.