An Old Friend

[The current posts are written by students in Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts.  Partnering with U-M Geriatric Centers, Mild Memory Loss, Silver Club Programs, students have been paired with community members to create together.]

My first memory of him is from across a drum circle. He sits, quietly, hand resting in his lap. From where I sit he seems reserved, barely engaging with the room. But his face is open and his eyes are alert.

And the music begins. Drums being pounded and walloped and played out of turn. He smiles widely and mimics the other players with care. Songs are sung and he knows every word or, if he doesn’t, he just sings it a beat behind.

He expands in every way: sitting a little taller, arms wide, ribbing the women on either side. The music opens him wide, joins him with others, reminding him of his powerful voice and entertaining ways.

He tells me about home and his television shows. His life is glossed over in generalities and a shrug. There was a romance, “the best wife ever made”, and a single tear. We yearn for the comfort of laughter.

Each visit after is a journey for that place. We paint and play cards, listen to music and sing. He talks about a trip to Washington and an old friend’s beautiful home. He welcomes laughter with everything he has.

And it is beautiful, that connection of play. He tolerates my painting projects and relaxes into our card games. We tease and joke and pretend to care who wins. We welcome laughter with everything we have.

~Kathy, Stamps School of Art & Design student 

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