Things I think: Sunshine's dream

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Margaret was just one of those people. She always wore a smile and a bright yellow sweater, and staff and residents at her assisted living community called her “Sunshine.” She was a ray of light — perpetually optimistic and cheerful despite the health challenges she faced every day. 

Margaret loved to do two things — sew and help. Recently, she went to her activity director looking for a project. The timing was perfect since the facility had been talking with a prominent charity about the possibility of making blankets for Ugandan babies. The idea captured her imagination, and Margaret took it on as a personal mission. 

But there was a problem. As she looked through the piles of donated fabric, she discovered it was mostly pink. “Are there no boys in Africa?” she asked. A trip to the fabric store was arranged. She flew through the aisles with that big Margaret smile on her face, choosing bolts of blue cloth covered with monkeys and ducks.  Because like she said, “What little boy doesn't like monkeys and ducks?”

“It was an incredible day for her, and for all of us,” the activity director remembers now, choking up as she struggles to continue. “She was so full of energy and life, and it's hard to believe that only a week later she wasn't with us anymore.”

Devastating as Margaret's unexpected passing was to all who knew her, the story doesn't end there. A group of her fellow residents have spent hours completing the project in her honor, and as I write this, the blankets are on their way to Africa, where nearly 50 needy babies will soon be wrapped in her dream. 

I had the privilege of watching those ladies at work, and saw how they reveled in the opportunity to make life better for someone. It was an inspiring reminder that when we look outside the activity program box and give our residents the chance to do something meaningful, they'll run with it. All the way to Uganda. 


Gary Tetz writes from his secret lair somewhere near Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.


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