Once a month I lead a storytelling group at a nursing home in Saskatoon, my closest city. I bring a topic with me and a prop or two to aid discussion. I find it thoroughly enjoyable listening to my elders tell there stories and see their faces fill with delight that someone is listening.

In February I went with the theme of love. With Valentines Day approaching at the time I thought it would be great for us to talk about marriage and all the good and bad stuff that goes with it.

Only I lost my way. The problem with finding that you lost your intention is that it happens after the fact. I knew I felt disappointment during our time together but I ignored those feelings because I thought I was experiencing the moment where a time did not meet my expectations.

And this is true, I was experiencing that but this time it was a bit more. My expectations failed because I did not honour my intentions. I wanted to talk about the good and the bad yet I began the conversation passing around a picture of my mom and dad slicing their wedding cake. If you have read any of my other blog posts you will know that their marriage did not end well. It wasn’t horrible but it did end.

I began the topic talking about how charmed their life was at the beginning and left it that way. There was a voice in my head saying to tell the group that they divorced but I didn’t want to be taboo. I said nothing.

As the conversation and time went on I realized it was a struggle to keep everyone on the subject of marriage. People wanted to talk about anything but. I let this go cause perhaps they had other things on their mind they needed to share. After it was over the nursing home coordinator told me that they all have either lost their husbands already, divorced or had bad marriages. Only two at the table were still married. For one of them it was her second husband.

Well, I could have handled that. I have had my experiences of bad marriage – one my own and others I have watched. Even my current marriage is not bliss. So why do I not talk about the bad stuff? Why did I not listen to that tiny voice in me that said “Tell them they divorced and that it broke your heart driving away from your dad as a child” as I passed the picture of them around?

Well, I didn’t want to upset the apple cart which isn’t really like me. I don’t mind upsetting the apple cart if it is to advocate for someone else but I guess I won’t do it where I am involved.  Hmmm… this isn’t a self-help blog.  Well indirectly it is I guess.

What I want to say is that we need honesty. We need to tell the truth and not be shy about being judged. We need to make ourselves vulnerable in our writing and perhaps eventually learn to be vulnerable outside of our writing/storytelling lives.  Also, listen to those voices! They are so smart. I am not talking about ego who will criticize and praise you. I am talking about the other voice, the one that suggests things to you. The one that feels like it is floating and not a weight on your chest. Listen. Be brave.

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2 thoughts on “

  1. I, too, work in a nursing home, skilled nursing and rehab center. When I started working there, one of the first things I noticed was how much time the residents and patients spent in their rooms, lights off, tv blaring. Though there are many programs and activities scheduled per month, I think the motivation to participate has stagnated. Your idea of storytelling is great. Using pictures or any other appropriate prop is a terrific add-on. I will try this idea and look forward to listening to all the voices!

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