Gramma, Grampa and Tabby Cat
By Sr. Mary Gerard
Sometimes, our hallway up here on the third floor can get awfully dark. Especially during the winter, there is a great temptation to bundle up, curl up in a chair, and throw away the activities calendar! However, be warned: there is a crazy Sister up here who is determined to bring around some Spring – and the joy that comes when we open up and welcome others as family.
There was a cute, old pattern that found its way to me in a box of donated sewing supplies, too sweet not to use: “Gramma, Grampa and Tabby Cat.” Somehow, it clicked an idea into motion. Could I get every Resident on my floor to help make these dolls, and at the same time become more welcoming to each other?
We’re a small group up here: 15 Residents, plus me, a nurse’s aide, and a nurse. I started a little at a time – one cut the pattern out, then I gathered a little group to pin the pattern to the fabric and cut it out. I was amazed to find we had so many seamstresses – who all knew I hadn’t picked the right fabric, and who could tell straightaway my scissors were lousy. What dedicated cutters I had, though! The next group I got together to turn the pieces inside out and stuff, while I hurriedly ran the pieces through the machine. I learned and kept learning, as one Resident, fingering the edges with an expert’s care, raised her eyebrows at me and said, “Oh…Did you clip the curves?” No, I hadn’t! And when I whipped a seemingly complete body from the machine, I also discovered I had missed this small piece of instruction: Stuff body firmly. Hand stitch openings closed. “Alright, everybody,” I said, trying to hide my dismay, “let’s call it a day!” (After I wrangled with it a while it turned out just fine.)
We are happy to have several gentlemen on our floor. As I gathered another working group one of them stopped in hall and looked in at our circle of ladies and sewing supplies with a mischievous air. “Hey!” he called over, “This stuff’s for girls!” Then he whirled around on his walker and fled back down the hallway. However, I later hunted him down and he happily stuffed the cat for me, and named him Felix.
I would like to point out that Grandma holds a lovely needlework project that says home sweet home. One of our CNAs designed and sewed it herself. In fact, her needlework can be found throughout our Home, treasured by the Residents. She and several of the nurses enjoyed supporting the Residents in this project- and also our housekeepers! When one housekeeper discovered the creative windstorm that had attacked the Family Room at the end of the hall, he stood helplessly at the threshold with a broom and dustpan as I raced toward him to explain. “Sister, sister…What are you doing now?” I blubbered something about dolls and told him not to clean up my mess-in-progress, and he laughed. Yet, often afterwards I could hear him and the other housekeepers encouraging the Residents and asking them how Grandma and Grampa were doing.
Once they were finished, I was delighted to share them around the house. We voted on their names: Gramma Mary and Grampa Joseph won; second place was Happy and Pappy! Two apartment Residents made them seats. Nothing made me happier than to see one of the crafters point and say, “See that? I did that part!” and be cheered on by their friends.
I thank God for each one of the people who form a part of our family! I thank God I have the opportunity every day to see their warmth and cheerfulness, and I say honestly I can see Jesus growing in the people I have the privilege to serve.