“Can I hold your babydoll”, I asked Jean. “I’ll babysit while you draw.” Jean is always ready to laugh, a look of delight came over her and she handed me the doll.
Jon and the Army of Good bought dolls for a few of the women who live at The Mansion, the Assisted Living Facility where we both volunteer, and Jean loves to carry hers around. I held the doll for the hour long class, sometimes sitting her on my lap, while Jean worked at coloring in the picture I drew on her tote bag in black marker.
“These totes are just the right size to hang on a walker,” Julie, the Activities Coordination told me.
I hadn’t thought of that. Jon bought Sylvie, another resident, some small totes and she couldn’t use them all so I decided they would be the perfect project for my art class at The Mansion.
I drew an owl on one bag in black marker and colored it in as an example of what they could do, but everyone had their own ideas. A few of the women who showed up for the class, weren’t able to do a drawing so Julie and I did one for them to color in.
One woman didn’t want to draw at all, but she did want to watch. I gave her the bag I made and she said she’d give it to her daughter as a gift.
Wayne and Ruth, the newly “married” couple, made bags for each other.
Mary made a bag for her granddaughter whose birthday is coming up.
Madeline made a bag with her husband’s name on it.
And Jean tried not to laugh when she told me she thought her bag was ugly.
Last month when I went to The Mansion to teach a class, only Peggy showed up. This time we had to pull another table over there were so many people who wanted to draw.
I remember my mother telling me she used to belong to a sewing circle when she first started working full time. She said it was more about getting together with other women than it was about sewing.
That’s how I’ve come to feel about my monthly art class.
Madeline tells us stories about her life. Today she told us about her husband who was a professional photographer and her trip to Italy to meet her husband’s family who did not approve of her not being Italian.
Jean told us how she used to iron her children’s socks. And we all tried to help Alice remember a word she had forgotten when she tried to tell us a story that she never got to finish. Peggy always joins in the conversation and gave her bag with a drawing of a horse on one side and a butterfly on the other to Julie.
But even for the people who didn’t talk as much, I got the feeling they still enjoy the company of the rest of us. That just being together and working on something similar is important enough.
That’s how I’ve come to see the monthly art classes. As a time to create together and just be together.