Support Local Journalism

My mother is ninety-five and lives in an assisted living center. The people in charge there provide a lot of activities for the residents to enjoy. There are, of course, things like card games, Bingo, and putting puzzles together. My mother doesn’t get too excited about any of those. She grew up as a hard-working farm girl, and playing Bingo just isn’t in the cards for her.

But there are other, even more far-reaching activities. One of the owners has a pond that he stocks with fish. The residents go in a van to the pond, then fish from lawn chairs on the dock. Some young people even bait their hooks for them.

Mom never did like fishing. My father, brothers, and some of my sisters enjoyed it, and we would go when we could. Mom would go with us and take a book to read.

The assisted living center has had outings to parks, short hikes on trails that were wheelchair accessible, and long rides to see the countryside. My Mom has gone on a few but usually comes back and says, “If you’ve seen it once, there’s no need to see it again.”

I have been concerned about her being bored, so I have provided her with all the crossword puzzle books I can get my hands on. She enjoys them. But with her eyesight fading, that is becoming increasingly difficult.

There was one thing she found she enjoyed. It was called M&M night. The M’s stand for music and movies. They had someone come in and play music for old silent films. A person could win M&M’s if they could guess the piece of music that the lady was playing. I was pleased to see that my mother had a whole bowl full of M&M’s.

But one day, I was surprised to hear my mother talking about the residents playing a rousing volleyball game. She was telling me how much fun she had.

“Some players are incredibly aggressive,” she said. “The lady next to me kept getting in my road when I tried to hit the ball. Everyone has to keep reminding people to stay in their own areas.”

I was shocked to think of my mother playing volleyball at her age. She has said she wanted to get more exercise, but I was concerned that it might push her heart a little too much. When I asked her about it, she brushed it off.

“No,” she replied. “I do just fine, and I make sure I get my fair share of shots. My team ended up winning three of the five games. And a couple of the times, I was the one that made the winning hit across the net.”

She was proud of the excellent job she did, and I was pleased she found something she enjoyed. But the more she talked about it, the more shocked I was. Still, I tried not to show my angst for her. I didn’t want to say anything that would deter her from doing the things she liked.

There were a couple more times that she played volleyball, and every time, she had to tell me about the games. She said her team was even getting so they would set the ball for each other so the people on the front could slam it.

By this time, I was so perplexed about her playing volleyball that I took some time off work to come see the next match. When I got there, I found the tables in the cafeteria scooted to the sides. A net between three and four feet high divided the room. All the residents sat in chairs on their side of the net. A worker launched a ball-shaped balloon out into their midst, and the residents started smacking it back and forth with paddles.

When the match was over, I told Mom she hadn’t described the low net, the balloon ball, the chairs, the paddles, or any of that.

She looked at me with disgust. “Why should I? What else would we be doing?”

I thought of what I had imagined and smiled. “It doesn’t matter as long as you were having fun.”

Please be aware that Cache Valley Publishing does not endorse, and is not responsible for alleged employment offers in the comments.

Recommended for you