We Witness a Drive-By Shouting

At 7:30 last night I was just finishing up my shift at the Villa, the seniors’ residence where I cook a few meals every week. My husband, who was waiting for me to finish my work, asked if I could hear a siren. He’d already alerted the residents that something unusual was going on outside, so they were all watching from the large picture window that faces the car port.

We saw a Fire Department vehicle, sirens blaring and lights flashing, drove into the Villa parking lot. A moment later we had the opportunity to witness first-hand a Drive-By Shouting.* We were forewarned that this would happen, but it was to be a surprise for the residents.

Two of our seniors had birthdays yesterday; Melvin turned 86 and Wilbert 91, so their families, together with the Villa board arranged this birthday party on wheels. Wilbert’s great-grandson and a friend drove up to the carport in a sort of dune buggy with flashing lights; they jumped off and fastened a large banner between two pillars on the outside of the carport, facing the picture window. “Happy Birthday Melvin & Wilbert,” it read.

Then they led a long procession through the carport, the two men’s families, Villa Board member and a number of others from the congregation. Our guess is at least twenty vehicles passed through our carport, with passengers honking and waving — much to the delight of the two “birthday boys.” Many vehicles were decorated with signs and balloons; in the back of one pickup two young people held up a large plywood sheet with Happy Birthday painted on it.

As they say, “A good time was had by all.”

Actually, we later heard that the local Fire Department had been involved in an earlier drive-by shouting, together with friends and family, for a Mrs Smith who turned 95 yesterday.

*I don’t know how widely used this term is, but a Moose Jaw reporter recently wrote about “the increase in drive-by shoutings” in that city, so I’m borrowing it. When folks are supposed to be self-isolating, they find creative ways of interacting. And there’s no ban on drive-bys.

I’m happy to say that our residents — and most residents of seniors’ & nursing homes in the province — have escaped the virus thus far. The stats I’ve heard today for Saskatchewan are: 301 diagnosed with Covid-19; 187 recovered; 4 deaths. So we’ve much reason to be thankful to date.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is BAN

Hula-Hoop Flexible? Not.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today — which I’m so slow at responding to because of a trip to the city this morning — is FLEXIBLE.

A great word, and a great concept. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone were flexible, both in body and in mind. Not flexible with the truth, like saying black is white or “If it feels good, do it.” Just flexible enough to ponder new ideas and make the change when something better comes along.

Flex.OCArtBut my first thought in regard to the word “flexible” is how I used to be when I was young. Hula-hoops were all the rage and we used to writhe around all recess keeping our hoops moving around our waists. It wasn’t one bit hard, either, as I recall.

As fads recycle, hula hoops reappeared when my grandchildren were younger and I decided to try it again, for old times’ sake. (Those old times before I knew what arthritis meant.) There was something wrong with the way this hoop was made, though: it wouldn’t stay where it was supposed to. When I gave it that first spin and started gyrating to keep it circling, it dropped to the floor. Every time. I soon gave up. Either the thing was too rigid to twirl properly or perhaps modern plastic is just too heavy.

Modern Times & Grandma

THE MODERN GRANDMA

The old rocking-chair will be empty today
for Grandma no longer is in it.
She’s off in her car to her office or shop;
she buzzes around every minute.
You won’t see her trundling off early to bed
from her chair in a warm chimney nook;
her typewriter’s clicking far into the night,
for Grandma is writing a book!

Our heroine never allows backward looks
to slow down her steady advancing;
there ‘s no baby-sitting for her anymore—
for Grandma has taken up dancing.
She isn’t content with her thoughts of old times,
with meager and second-hand knowledge.
So don’t bring your mending for Grandma to do
for Grandma has gone back to college!

🙂

I’ve Googled and found this poem listed as “Author Anonymous” in several books, with a few variations. I found this version in the 1976 Friendship Book of Francis Gay. None of them mentioned Grandma running for office, but modern grandparents are doing that, too.

Yes, the lot of grandparents has changed very much my grandparents’ day. We’ve lost some important connections and probably thrown too much wisdom “out with the bathwater,” as Grandma would say. But in many ways I’m very thankful for the freedom seniors have today.

At the Villa one day over dinner we talked about some of the changes that make it possible for handicapped people to get out and about, like walkers, motorized wheelchairs, sidewalk ramps. And then there are health benefits like cataract surgery and macular degeneration treatment to prevent blindness and various medications to regulate the heart and keep people active longer. So Grandma can go back to college. 🙂

I think of my Grandma, who went from home to home visiting her children, not often appreciated by the grands. She had basically no interaction with us except to reprove bad behaviour. The mentality back in her childhood would have been “children should be seen and not heard”; it was not for parents to have a rapport with their children.

One older man told his son, “I envy you that, that you young fathers are encouraged to be close with, and affectionate to, your children. When I was young, fathers were to represent Authority, be stern and dole out correction.”

Some widowed grandmothers a century ago were simply “taken in” by whoever of the children had the most room or time to care for her. I would—and I  think most grandmothers now would—far rather have their own small quarters in a senior’s residence than be the “fifth wheel” in a busy family.