I was walking through the long term care unit at the nursing facility where I work. I am trying to track down a nurse. Nurses have a very interesting habit of disappearing when you have a question. I suspect, many of them also work as amateur magicians in their off hours.
The unit I am on has a good size living room/den area. There are usually a few people lounging here, reading the paper or chatting with one another. Today is different. Today I see before I have even fully rounded the corner that the living room is packed. There are close to twenty or twenty-five people in here today, over half of the residents who live on the unit. Wheelchairs are packed together, every recliner is full. No one is lounging or sleeping, rather they are intently gazing at something I cannot yet see.
Around the corner I turn, and see that the object of their scrutiny is a large chalkboard. Written in large letters across the top is the word PHILANTHROPIES. I notice that some people are holding small scraps of paper with the same word printed on them.
The chalkboard is full of words that people have suggested, smaller words made from the larger one. Trophies, ant, lips, slant, train… the list continues on and on and people are calling out more and more words.
The crowd titters.
People underestimate the elderly, they are just as dirty-minded as the rest of us. I’ve also observed that life is like a bell curve. We used to play this game in grade school. Trying to out do each other, we worked trying to make more words than our neighbors. We giggled if the word could spell penis, or nuts. Now as people in their eighties and nineties this game continuities to amuse. They work as a team though, trying to come up with more words than the other units.
“How many do we have?” The count is as 325.
“How many did they get downstairs?” The answer of 364 meets with groans.
The only other time I’ve seen this many people at an activity is when their is a musician. The dreariness that one can sometimes see is forgotten. There is an air of comradery, of unity and of joy.
Words are powerful. They can bring joy, incite action, or create sadness. Never underestimate the power words my friends… or the perverted minds of the elderly.