By Harold R. Shuler ~
A few of us were milling about the lobby with our walkers when someone (I don’t remember who.) got the bright idea that we should have a ‘Show-and-Tell’ event in conjunction with our doughnuts and coffee Saturday morning.
There is about 100 of us old fogies in here in a senior independent living facility, nestled in a hillside in Lakewood, Colorado.
“Show-and-tell?” someone exclaimed, questioning the voracity of the person making the suggestion.
Looking back, our lives may seem to have been, at best, average, if not uninspiring. For 7 to 10 decades we got up in the morning, did what we had to do, or what was expected of us, went to bed, then got up the next day to do it over again. Anything we have that was ever worth showing has shriveled up like a lettuce leaf kicked under the refrigerator 6 months ago. Anything interesting enough to tell about ourselves, would get us arrested, divorced or have been forgotten along with that lettuce leaf. At least that’s what crossed many of our minds, because our short tern memory, which only included the events of last week: bingo, napping, or waiting with baited breath for our next meal, cast its shadow over our heroic mastery of the challenges of our past.
The only Show-and-Tell that comes to mind from my past is when I was in the Second Grade. I had talked my mother into assisting me in my presentation. She would deliver my project to the school on the day of the program. Though I had nothing to do with the creation of the object, I held it proudly before my fellow students for their examination. I told them it was a female, born December 6. 1941. It was about 2 months old, and I loved it very much. It was my baby sister. For many years after that, I don’t remember participating in another show-and-tell event, probably because I didn’t think I could top that. I eventually chose Graphic and Fine Art as a profession, where show-and-tell is a way of life.
Having lived in Lakewood Estates for about 4 years, I doubted if many of the residence would participate in such an activity. Bingo, ice cream and watermelon are 3 things that have been known to seduce the little cave dwellers from their habitats. What then would we, as individuals, have to offer that stranger next door? Well, Just about anything, I was to discover.
Life experiences unique to us all, family treasures, items that grew out of our creative passion, the things in our lives that help us express who we are and how they work: These are some of the things others are interested in. To share them with your neighbors will introduce the real you to your community and possibly be a basis for new and rewarding relationships.
As it turned out, “Show-and Tell” was tried and was a success. One person’s writing was read by another, who had volunteered as a Reader for Talking Books. Another participant, who was a virtuoso Cellist, demonstrated the instrument and explained its workings. Experiences during the Vietnam War were revealed by another. And, artistic achievements were displayed and discussed among a rather large and grateful audience.
What is my point, you ask? Well, if you find yourself living in a “Lakewood Estates” or other communal environment and the only communication you have with your mysterious next-door neighbors is, “What’s for dinner,” or, “It looks like rain,” try a little “Show-and-Tell.”