This is a 2011 Review Post.
Dear old Catherine looking down to the game sheet which was supposedly being played by her and after every five minutes would say, “I hope you win.” After Nimra told her that they were a team and were playing as one, her statement was changed to, “I hope WE win.” Luckily, Nimra won the centre line for Catherine awarding her the prize money which made her not only confused but tremendously happy!
Old and abandoned, overlooked and ignored, tired and somnolent, sick and wrinkled, frustrated and sad; all what they could ever ask for is a little attention. Some hope for better days and try to get the opportunity to hear a glee in their lives; for love and care. To make the days of these twenty-seven aged souls residing in the old age home of Maryville better, the Saint Patrick’s High School gathered a group of about thirty students who were to attend these old, garrulous darlings every Saturday from the month of September. In these three months, our affection and relationship with them grew so profoundly and increased so immensely such that every Saturday without meeting them turned out to be boring.
On the 22nd of December, Thursday, our group headed by two coordinators organized ‘The Maryville Christmas Party.’ Pupils were entrusted with different responsibilities. These dwellers were asked of what they wanted for Christmas and things were bought so. “I want soap!” was one of the most lovable desires expressed by Yvonne, a young woman in her seventies. Aunty Mona asked for a pink nail polish. Uncle Rocky asked for a perfume, Brute. “All I want is your love!” was the sentence uttered by almost all of them. Aunty Alice wanted a pair of warm gloves for herself as her fingers tend to freeze by night. Blanche wanted a colourful pair of slippers as she was getting bored with wearing the same black slippers since last few months. These are a few that actually had some wishes. There are a number of others who are suffering from severe short-term memory loss like Helen and Aunty Catherine, while others are cancer patients who are mostly in sheer pain.
The joyous day finally arrived when we had planned our party. Timings from 10am to 2 pm were allotted. The organizing team had reach at about 9am sharp. We gathered in the Maryville dining hall and began to decorate it. Some of us had to complete the packing of the gifts while the rest began to embellish Christmas decor all around. Santa all “santa-ed up” with about two fat pillows stuffed in his belly, visited after a few minutes of wait.
A picture of me with my personal favourite Santa. Trust me, he was the greatest santa of all times!
“Jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way. Santa Clause is coming along riding on his sleigh.” This particular Christmas carol was repeated over and over and danced on into the night by many others. Uncle Robinson, a passionate and energetic Punjabi man who is barely found speaking English, preferred to dance on “some real Bhangra.” For him specifically, a desi Punjabi song was played where he stood up with his hands held high moving left to right in absolute party mood. When they got tired and set out the excuse of having brittle knees, we decided to play a game, Bingo. But they wanted to see us dance together as a group. Bewildered yet excited, we put together a typical boogie in order to amuse them and see those glowing smiles.
After sometime, as decided, we started playing bingo with all the members. Our coordinator, Daniel, was the host of the game who called out the numbers while one of the other teammates would shuffle the numbers. We noticed pumped up energies in them as they hurriedly grabbed their chairs to settle down. We had four winners from the game. The only thing that could divert the mind of some of the dwellers from losing the game was FOOD! We had magnanimous pots containing spaghetti, spring rolls and fried chicken. Soft drinks were also served. They had the time of their lives eating, wiping ketchup of their chins and dabbing the excess food oil off their lips. Uncomfortable with pictures being snapped while they were eating, we decided not to take any and let them enjoy their food.
Sister Maggie smiling for the camera and cutting her birthday cake. Long live the saint that is taking such good care of these people residing.
Later, home-baked brownies were served to each. Happiness flushed on their faces as they seized the brownie in their hand and gobbled them down their sugar-loving guts. It was Sister Maggie’s birthday on the same day. We got her a colossal bouquet of roses and a chocolate fudge cake from Hob Nob. She cut her cake; blowed two tall ornamental candles placed along and thanked the entire team for arranging “the best party that has ever taken place in Maryville.”
Towards the end of the day, Santa distributed gifts to each dweller. There were screams and shrieks all from pure laughter saying, “THIS IS WHAT I WANTED!” It was such a beautiful moment that I could live it over and over. They would stand up and hug everyone they found nearby and thanked them amorously. Aunty Catherine was very happy with her knitting needles as she always wanted the stainless steel ones. While the other Catherine quickly went to her room, put on her blue scarf and showed it off to the rest of the people. Alice wore her warm gloves and exclaimed that she had the best gift! Aunty Mona had a hard time deciding which shade of pink to put first while Uncle Rocky asked me to splash the perfume, Brute, on him. If you ever ask me what is that memory in your lifetime that you would always treasure. This would be it. Happy, gleaming faces! Smiles and laughs!
Santa dancing in the centre of the circle and showing off his seriously good dance moves. Go santa!
George Sand quotes, “There is only one wish in this life, to love and to be loved.” How unbelievably accurate was he anyway. All these desolate inhabitants want is just a bit of love and happiness.