I’d like you to meet Mrs. R, a resident, and member of our family. Palm Garden of West Palm Beach is her home now but she was born in a small town in the Italian countryside just south of Naples.
Mrs. R remembers time spent cooking authentic Italian cuisine with her mom. I can picture her as a little girl measuring just the right amount of virgin olive oil to make the meatballs moist. Picking fresh basil and bouncing around the kitchen to mash the garlic. Running to their orange grove to pick the ones with a little brown in them because they’re best for fresh-squeezed juice. What a great childhood! Carefree times with mom.
She met her husband, an American Serviceman, upon his return from South Africa. See, he was a prisoner of war for five years. Could you imagine? You’re 19 years old and this dashing young man shows up with wild stories of world travel and his life in the United States? She was smitten.
They married and came back to the states in their 20s.
They were blessed with three children, two girls, and a boy. She taught them how to cook too. And her kids gave her grandkids. What a great life!
She worked as a homemaker. Cooked from scratch every day for all three meals. And she always served fresh-squeezed orange juice for breakfast just like mom.
Mrs. R was telling Elise how much she wanted to cook a real Italian dinner. A simple thing right? The sort of thing that would come out in casual conversation a mother might have with a daughter. “What do you want to do today, mom?” “I’d really like to cook like I used to. Big meal. Remember?”
So Elise and Mrs. R made sauce, meatballs, and biscotti from scratch! They didn’t stop there. They had so much fun they ended up with enough for 100 people! They’re going to have a big meal for everyone and accept donations. The money will go to buy Christmas presents for residents with no family! Goosebumps.
And this is where authentic life story celebration turns melancholy into joy. We believe in learning life stories- the rich tapestry of life events that define us as persons. We believe it informs us how best to care for those we call family. Cooking brings Mrs. R profound joy. It’s the fiber of her very being. So we cooked with her and it brought everyone joy. Each of us is encouraged to know our family beyond their medical concerns. To know them as individual persons. In this case, we gathered the ingredients and cooked for 100 people. But we did more than that. We brought back memories of a life well-lived. We learned life lessons better than anything you could ever read in a book.
Just look at those pictures. There’s no melancholy there. We found joy and how lucky are we?
We are just so proud of and grateful for our Palm Garden Family.
Vice President of Service
And Relationship Development