Sunday, June 03, 2007

Strawberries, a Party and a New Pair of Earrings

Almost all of Oregon's strawberries are grown west of the Cascade Mountains, here in the Willamette Valley. Fertile soils, mild winters and relatively cool summers allow growers to produce high quality berries with good flavor, color and texture. Our strawberries are exceptionally sweet and an usually red color compared to berries from other states.

Our tiny backyard berry patch allowed the picking of just a few ripe berries to bring as a gift to my 91 year old mother-in-law. An enticement and a reminder of the world outside of her nursing home walls.... in hopes of our convincing her to join us in a great-grandson's high school graduation party.

After three previous rejections, we just showed up with a pair of her freshly washed and ironed white slacks, her favorite blouse and (suprise!) a new pair of earrings. It wasn't the berries or the slacks or even the blouse that did the trick...I think it was finally having a pair of earrings to put in her 'naked' ears that had gone without a single pair for the entire two whole weeks away from home, that finally did the trick! But in any case, sending my husband out for the blusher and lipstick, while I got her all gussied up, I managed to get her into a wheelchair, hair fluffed, blusher, lipstick and new earrings on, and then with his help, into a car, and off to join family and friends!

It was a beautiful, sunny day. And although we only knew a few family members, her adult grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered around "Grandma's" wheelchair to greet her as she smiled cutely with new earrings proudly displayed on her little ear lobes. We had good food, ice cold drinks, young children to watch playing their lawn games, and a sweet little great- grandmother enjoying every single moment of it, all.

It was worth the effort, the work, the preparation and the process. For one day, she was back to being a part of the big family and could see that as hard as it might be to do it all, her life doesn't have to be confined to a small, dark room and a television set.

As Emily Dickinson said:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all....

Sometimes, to give hope, we have to be hope. We perch quietly, singing our songs without words and we keep trying and trying. We may get 'no' for an answer, but if we don't give up......we discover that each of us still has a song to sing in this world and we get others to sing their own songs, as well.

A song to sing, fresh strawberries to eat, and maybe, just maybe...a new pair of earrings!