Michelle Daniel has been a care partner in long-term care for 20 years in the capacities of volunteer, Activities, Administrator and Village Guide. She enjoys coaching others to grow as an Eden Educator and Mentor.
Is story telling a thing of the past? As a child, I recall times when our family would gather together and celebrate. In the evenings, the elders of my family would share stories of the “old days”. Adults were sitting in chairs, sofas, and rockers and the children were sitting on the floor at their feet. Sometimes we would laugh, and sometimes we would cry. We all experienced the beauty of the moment in connectedness and meaning. In today’s world, I wonder if we have lost connectedness by not telling stories any longer.
Leave it to Bill Thomas to have me feeling like I’m sitting at a campfire when I hear him tell a story. I have imagined marshmallows, Hershey bars and graham crackers must have been involved when he first created his stories. I imagine the children screaming when he imitates the tiger as he gets his whisker pulled out by Rachael in “The Tiger’s Whisker”. What about Sarah Rowan? She rings a little bell, and suddenly, I feel like a first grader all over again as she shares stories of her sweet Joseph. I imagine sitting on my designated “spot” on a colorful rug listing to the great teacher tell us a story and feed us with possibility and wonderment. Story-telling to their level may seem a bit intimidating, but should it be?
Admittedly, I have become a bit callus-eyed at the amazing stories I have right here in Haleigh’s Almanac. So, I challenge all of us to share the stories of Eden. Share the amazing stories that teach us lessons for becoming a better care partner, lessons for working better together as a team and lessons to improve our personal lives. Is it possible to hear a story again and find ourselves at different level of understanding of it than when we first heard it? Of course! As our life changes, so does our perspective. The more familiar we are with a story, the more likely we are to share it.
Do the elders you care partner with know these stories? Do the people you work with know these stories? Do your children or grandchildren know these stories? Why are we keeping these stories in a closed book? It’s time to tell stories again, and bring back connectedness and meaning to our families and communities.
I recently began reading “In the Arms of Elders” to my 8 year old son. I’m quite curious of his perspective. So far, he’s worried about Bill and Jude and wonders why they went on the journey in the first place. I reassured him that Bill and Jude are pioneers (kindof like the early settlers) and had to go first so the rest of us could follow. He also thinks Kallimos is a pretty cool place to live. It’s funny how children can say short statements that can resonate in my brain for hours.
While returning to this culture change classic, I’m discovering a greater understanding of the Eden stories and their meanings. I suddenly feel a sense of urgency to share these stories with other people, so they, too, may come into a greater understanding and become a part of the connectedness of the movement we call the Eden Alternative.