LUCK BE A LADY

Crossing your fingers is one way to hope luck finds you.  (picture by Marylin Warner)

Crossing your fingers is one way to hope luck finds you. (picture by Marylin Warner)

This is how the ladies were NOT dancing, but they were still having a great time. (Picture from Classical Baby)

This is how the ladies were NOT dancing, but they were still having a great time. (Picture from Classical Baby)

Snow and ice had already postponed our travels by two days. First, we had to wait an extra day to leave Colorado.  Fortunately our house sitter was flexible.  But when we arrived in Kansas, I had to wait another day to drive the last 200 miles to visit my mother in the southeast part of the state. I was very tired by the time I arrived.

I don’t know what I expected as I got off the elevator to go to Mom’s apartment. I was pulling my suitcase and balancing a bouquet of yellow lilies with a bag of groceries, but instead of the common area being calm and quiet on a dreary afternoon, the room rang with festive singing and laughter. Two nursing aides had loaded a dance DVD on the flat screen TV, and eight or nine older ladies—probably in their late 70s through early 90s—were moving to the music. Dancing in place or stepping around furniture or just tapping feet and waving arms from a wheelchair, they were creating their own indoor sunshine on a gloomy day.

As I watched, amazed, they took a breather between songs. And then one of the aides called out, “Ladies, get ready. The next one is Luck Be A Lady Tonight’!” Everyone giggled and turned to watch the screen with their arms lifted, ready to ‘dance’ again. Regardless of the dreary weather and their ages and possible infirmities, these were ladies who were already making their own luck.

I had grown up hearing the expression “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” As I watched the gyrations to “Luck Be A Lady,” I amended that to “Luck is what happens when enthusiasm makes the most of music and movement.”

March 9 is GET OVER IT DAY. Whatever is bothering us, or if there is something we can’t change or should just let go of, maybe the best thing to do is make a decision to Get Over It, even for one day.   Or there’s an entire week—March 16-22ACT HAPPY WEEK.    A full week to “fake it until you make it,” an opportunity to act the way you would like to feel.

March 16-22 is also WELLDERLY WEEK (aka WELL-ELDERLY), a time to ‘act your age’—or the age you want to feel—and do the things that make you happy. Whatever your age, if you need a suggestion to get started, you might put on Frank Sinatra singing “Luck Be A Lady” and dance to it in your own lucky style.

P.S. My mother is too frail to do much standing, let alone any dancing, but she made her own luck by curling up under her blankets and humming along to some of the poems I read to her!

"Hurry Back"--1st Place Overall painting by Nancy Luttrell, age 67.  (I LOVE the detail on this painting!)

“Hurry Back”–1st Place Overall painting by Nancy Luttrell, age 67. (I LOVE the detail in this painting!)

"Tropical Foliage"--this year's Best of Show  in ART IS AGELESS.  Painter is Paul Johnston, age 81

“Tropical Foliage”–this year’s Best of Show in ART IS AGELESS. Painter is Paul Johnston, age 81

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69 Comments

Filed under celebrations, Dementia/Alzheimer's, experiments, lessons about life, making a difference, Special Days in March, special quotations

69 responses to “LUCK BE A LADY

  1. juliabarrett

    Oh, I love this! Especially since I have such special memories of Guys and Dolls! My grandmother was an actress and a costume designer. I remember her performance in Guys and Dolls. That was my favorite song in the production.
    I can imagine how much fun your ladies had! Give your mom a hug for me.

    • Your grandmother was both an actress and a costume designer, Julia? Wow. That explains some of her granddaughter’s talents. GUYS AND DOLLS is a fun musical, especially when high school theater groups put it on. And yes, the ladies were having a great time with the music. It perked me right up, just watching!

  2. juliabarrett

    P.S. Glad you made it safely.

  3. I’m going to start “Act Happy Week ” right now. I have been working on “Get Over It ” for a while. Thanks for reminding me. I hope you have a better return trip.
    Sending you warm hugs
    Gerlinde

  4. Thank you, Gerlinde. “Getting Over It” seems harder for me, too, so I’ll join you in an early “Act Happy Week.” 🙂

  5. I absolutely love this post of yours, Marylin. It made my day. I am an 80 year old and felt like joining in when I read about the music. With a bit of music “Act Happy Week” should be easy!
    Thanks for including these two beautiful pictures. The elderly people who painted them must be extremely talented.
    Yes, and wishing you a safe trip back. 🙂
    “Luck is what happens when enthusiasm makes the most of music and movement.” I feel this to be very true! 🙂

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this as much as I did, Uta. Watching the dancing, seeing the wonderful art that won the Art is Ageless, it was all contagious and I wanted to find my own music and begin painting my own pictures, too. 🙂

  6. You say the next few days are supposed to be sunny and clear. It seems like your mother might have to stay in bed. Well, at least she could still do a bit of humming. It means what you read to her does stimulate her somewhat, doesn’t it? I imagine that this is something you want to hold unto while it lasts.

    • Absolutely. 🙂 It’s become our routine, reading poems at night when she’s tucked in her bed. There are times I wonder if she’s listening, but just when I assume she’s fallen asleep and so I stop reading, she’ll say (with eyes still closed), “Read more.” Or if she doesn’t care for a poem, sometimes she’ll shake her head and say, “Not that one.”
      It’s a delightful surprise when she responds.
      At this point in our lives, we’ve reversed roles from my childhood; now I read aloud to her. It’s very nice.

  7. Hi Marylin, I’m sorry to hear the weather didn’t play it’s part and delayed your journey and that when you finally reached Kansas you had an extra 200 miles to drive. No wonder you were tired. What a shame your Mom is so frail now as I feel sure she’d have enjoyed the music even if the dancing might have been beyond her. It’s great that she got the rhythm of the poetry though and hummed along as you read.
    I hope you make the return 200 miles safely again with no weather problems and that the journey back to Colorado isn’t made more fraught with snow and ice.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    • Thank you, David. A year ago, my mom could have participated at least for awhile, or at least watched the others and smiled and waved her arms. Now I’m just pleased when she hums along as I read certain poems.
      The forecast is good for sunshine and blue skies for our return drive home, and I’m so grateful. Hugs Galore to you, too!

  8. the fake it till you make it week should be fun.
    Have a pleasant day Marylin

  9. I love this post, Marylin…it made me feel like dancing! 🙂 “They were creating their own indoor sunshine on a gloomy day.” What a great line. We can learn so much from them.

  10. If you look for sunshine you will find it, could be one takeaway from this optimistic post. Today my sister will take her grand-daughter Suni Norah (Yes, her real, partially Korean name) to see my Aunt Ruthie in the Alzheimer’s unit where she lives now. A two and a half-year old among the elderly, Suni should literally be a bucket of cheer.

    As always, I like the graphics. The first one probably required a lot of pre-planning including nail polishing. Great shot! I sense you like to blend the visual and verbal as much as I do in my own posts.

  11. Though the travel was arduous…the visits are priceless…for the memories with mom…and all the lessons shared by those who surround her with love.

  12. Nancy Parker Brummett

    This made my heart smile! Thanks.

  13. So true, Marilyn, Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. How wonderful to see all the old ladies’ faces light up. I spent many a time visiting my mother in a seniors’ care home and relished in seeing her laugh and smile during some of the activities there. Like you, I had to go quite a distance, from Vancouver Island to Winnipeg, to check in on my mother and make sure she was getting the care she deserved. Not easy. Glad you made it safely, despite the weather conditions. Safe travels home.

    • Thank you, Diana.
      You understand the distance–and the special time spent with your mother–and also the energy of group activities. Fortunately, really nice weather is predicted for our return drive.

  14. “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” or any Sinatra tune would put most people in a dancing or singing mood. It sounds like the staff knows how to help its residents shake off those winter doldrums.

    That painting of the two dogs is just adorable. 😉

    I’m glad you made it safely to your Mom’s place. Stay safe and warm, Marilyn.

    • The painting of the two dogs is exceptional, Judy. I was amazed at the effective details and the emotional depth.
      The last three days have each been sunnier and warmer, and supposedly our drive home will be even nicer. After the grueling snow and ice and wind, we’re very relieved.

  15. Claudia

    Another positive blog post to drawn strength from! Here it is gorgeous today! We walked dog…took tea to deck…sat in sunshine for hour. Can’t believe it was only three days ago we were under cold, snow, and ice! I hope you are getting a nice weekend too!

  16. It’s the same here in Abilene today, Claudia, and even Colorado is predicted to be sunny and warm. It’s that time of year when the weather can quickly swing from winter to spring and back again, as you well know, so we’ll make the most of the nice days.

  17. “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
    I had not heard this before and love that quote.

    • I’m not sure who first said it, Elizabeth, but I heard it from teachers, my parents, and even once saw it quoted (anonymously) in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. There were other similar thoughts, too, like “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

  18. Thank you for sharing the joy you found in Kansas, Marylin…sometimes we need to make our own sunshine. 😉 And soon it will be spring and better driving weather for you…we’ve still got many feet of snow that is nowhere near melting…the temps have been so frigid.

    • Vivian, I didn’t realize New Hampshire received so much snow. This would have been the year you’d be surprised by Colorado, too, though. We’ve had some bitterly cold weather; and in the six days before we left for Kansas, we had three separate snow storms, which isn’t the norm.
      But as you probably remember, Colorado can go from snow and ice to blue skies and sunshine very quickly. For the next five days, Colorado is predicted to have highs in the 60s and 70s. And then back to winter…

  19. So glad you made it and there was such a warm reception. What beautiful paintings.

    • Every time I need a smile, I think of the ‘dancing’ to “Luck Be a Lady Tonight,” and when I need creative inspirations, I think of the winning paintings. Despite the weather, Gallivanta, it was a very good trip.

  20. Marylin this is such a lovely tribute to ‘older’ ladies. Sorry you had such a delayed start but hey, wasn’t the trip worth it to see your Mom surrounded by laughing joyful people. We are just getting the first hint of autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere – last night we had thunder and lightning and torrential rain. The rain was much needed but I could do without the thunder and lightning. PS I love Sinatra singing “Luck be a lady tonight”. Hope to have that played at my funeral.

    • Judith, what a choice for a funeral song! I love it! 🙂
      You’re getting the first hints of autumn, while we’re hoping that in another month we’ll have spring, but you and I both applaud these tributes to older ladies! 🙂

  21. The artwork was especially wonderful, Marylin. Music, poetry, and art are such good ways to reach people who are isolated mentally and socially. It brings to mind something that happened in our church this year. After a service in the late fall, a woman with Alzheimer’s, who normally had a blank expression on her face, sat at the back of the sanctuary crying profusely. We learned it was because she knew the music we had sung that morning and was disappointed that she could no longer sing with us like she had in the past. At the next choir rehearsal, a friend brought her to sit in the soprano section where she could hum along, which she continued to do that throughout the Christmas season. It brought great joy to all of us to see her absolutely beaming and thanking people as she was led back to her husband following each service. Although she is no longer able to come to church, I still smile at the meaning for her and for all of us when she was welcomed into our music for a short time.

    • What a sweet story, Karen. Thank you for sharing that.
      I know that when I sing some of the children’s nursery songs, Mom often responds. And when I sit by her bed as she’s getting ready to go to sleep, she’ll “hum” in time to the poetry I’m reading.
      The music and movement and laughter was all so contagious that day, creating its own sunshine when the outside was gloomy and overcast!

  22. I found the thought of those ladies dancing very moving – reminded me of visits to Dad in his care home when there was a group activity going on. Before his dementia he would be the instigator, the leader of anything fun, and there he was, obliviously happy to follow someone else who’d taken his mantle. Very sad.
    The paintings are extraordinary. How marvellous.

    • There’s something wonderful about senior activities that cheer them up and get them moving, Jenny. We get glimpses of who they were before Alzheimer’s, dementia, strokes, illness or advanced years, and it’s such a delight.
      And I loved the paintings, too; they made me want to get out my paints and just let loose! 🙂

  23. Great post.

    The nursing aides at the home had learnt the art of shifting how the situation occurred for all the aging inmates into a realm of positivity and joy in the moment.

    Do you realise the huge learning that exists in this experience for you as well as all of us readers?

    Shakti

  24. Jim

    The paintings are remarkable. And dancing at ninety! You gotta take off your hat to those who refuse to let age hinder their enjoyment of each day.

    • Thanks, honey. Fingers crossed (and not double crossed like your grandkids’ fingers in the picture) that you and I can still be active in all these wonderful things when we’re ninety! 😉

  25. Claudia

    Dear Marilyn, Thanks for any of your comments that you can through! I think the issue must be related to the difference between Word Press and Blogger.
    Blogger does get its underwear in a bunch every now and then. “Matching” devices is a problem that I don’t think has to be. I can use my phone pictures on my blog but only if I like them sideways! No matter what path or devious route I take to trick the machinery, the pictures seem to know that pictures were taken on device of the “other guy”. They refuse to get along, darn it!!!

  26. Get over it day… Although it’s hard to,get over some things, pressing the restart button can surely help us to get over it. Fake it until you make it- I’me put that pencil many a time between my teeth to bring out that smile. It feels so silly sometimes that I end up with a good laugh.
    I love how the older ladies made their own sunshine. Another heart warming post, Marilyn.

    Thank you for sharing these two beautiful works of art. Indeed, art is ageless. Have a great week.

    • I’m wishing you a great week, too, Elaine. We’ll both bite on pencils until we can actually smile–and laugh–at the process. Now when I want to cheer up on a gray day, I’ll remember these dancing ladies and start singing “Luck Be A Lady Tonight.” 🙂

  27. calvin

    “indoor sunshine on a gloomy day”………..this is pure poetry, and sound advice for mental well being for any age….as my mother said to me yesterday, “since your father died all I seem to do is find something to worry about”. In her case, this arctic-like winter has been worsen due to some health issues, that has been fixed. Spring will turn it around I believe and put some dance in her steps.

    • Any way you can help her create some indoor sunshine on her gloomy days, Calvin, will make a difference. I was stunned at the difference it made in all the seniors, and in me, too, in just the few minutes as I carried up the groceries and my suitcase.
      Spring will help, too, but in the meantime you can try other things…maybe singing “Luck Be a Lady Tonight”…it might surprise a smile out of your mother? 😉

      • calvin

        My mother is the singer, am not. However, I do have a secret weapon that goes by the name of Elvira. She had a sleep over at my mother’s on the weekend, they we’re both delighted. One spoils the other.

      • You’ll have to tell us more about Elvira. Anything that delights our parents during their struggles is special!

      • calvin

        Lucky Be A Lady, named Elvira http://www.beyondplumcreek.com/shtufffs/?page_id=2435 who puts a smile on everyone’s face she meets, not just my Mother’s. Every Sunday I visit someone in a retirement residence, though I don’t always take her in, when I do it takes some time to make it pass the gauntlet of sitting residences, she will sit at the feet of strangers for hours as long as she is being petted and scratched, I adopted Elvira, hard to imagine someone would give her up, but am glad they did, I call her my Zen Master, an if the world operated in the same manner as she conducts herself, we’d be living in what might be true ‘Utopia’; perhaps it would not be such a bad thing if the world were to go to the Dogs. To be truthful, I actually feel guilty for having her in my midst, as she really would have been a perfect companion for a shut-in, so I farm her out to my mother often.

      • Calvin, this will be out of sequence, but thank you for the picture of Elvira, and the wonderful list of all she is and does. Now I understand your mother’s delight.

  28. Oh Marylin, what a wonderfully inspiring and postive post, but then your posts are always that. But this one sparkles even more so as I imagine those dear folk dancing to the music. I adore dancing and hope to dance as long as possible! They inspire me to remember that it is never too late for anything. Those paintings are magnificent, what talent! Get Over it Day is great…and hubby’s birthday! But he doesn’t hold grudges I’m glad to say. I love your quote…and will remember it! I’m just sorry for the long, arduous journey, and so glad you arrived at last. Hopefully now you are relaxing, enjoying your time with your dear mom as you both make your own luck, she safe and warm humming along as you read poems to her and you as you do the reading and relish such precious moments. Have a beautiful week dear Marylin and a safe journey home again.

    • Thank you, Sherri. We arrived back home late last night, and as I was unpacking I took out the Children’s Poems and Prayers book that Mom enjoys more than any others. I read a few again, but it just wasn’t the same without her humming. 🙂 We’ll do it again when I go back in April.

      Your husband’s birthday is on Get Over It Day? What a perfect combination when he reaches the age that he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s getting older. Birthday cake–and dancing with you–will make it a great celebration.

  29. What a beautiful surprise after such a long drive – I’ll bet the women had the time of their life. So glad you were able to visit your Mother and spend quiet time with her, sounds like she enjoyed your reading.

  30. I`m so lucky to have a friend like you Marylin , Thanks for sharing 🙂

  31. Nothing is more frustrating than travel delays. I’m glad you arrived safely and can spend time with her, regardless.

    • Thanks, Renee.It’ s 1,300 miles round trip, so somewhere across Colorado and Kansas we usually encounter some kind of bad weather. But once we arrive safely and spend time with family, it’s worth the journey. In another month there will be chances of tornado warnings in Kansas, so it’s always something.

  32. Your mother and you are such a great pair of lucky ladies, Marylin. I know you are just ‘re-paying’ her for all the times she read to you! And I mean that in the nicest way! She was so lovely and caring with you both enjoying literature and poetry. She and you cuddled up are so much more fun than dancing… Although, “Luck Be a Lady” is a fun song and she may have enjoyed listening to the melody. I once wrote about all the world’s talisman’s and was amazed at what people consider lucky, Marylin. I still say, “Cross your fingers” as well as, “Keep me in your prayers!”

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