As the Executive Director of Silver Comet Village, each month, I host at least one activity. It is a time for me to connect with our residents without other distractions. A few months ago, I sat down with a group of residents in preparation for our Valentine’s Day celebration and asked them to share their fondest memories of past Valentine’s Days.
Connecting through Shared Experiences
Valentine’s Day was the day that my own grandmother and grandfather were married, and I was curious to see if any of our residents shared that anniversary.
One of our residents, a centenarian, spoke of making a valentine from some old wallpaper and hanging it on the door of someone that she liked. He didn’t ask her on a date until the following September, but they were married four months later, in January, the very day after he proposed (one-minute past midnight to be exact!). She shared that they were married for 60 years before her husband passed. When I asked her the secret to their long marriage, she said, “Well, we just never found anything to argue about, but we sure had fun.”
Connecting through Emotions
I heard a story about another Silver Comet Village resident being smitten with one of her brother’s friends and how he would tease her.
We shared stories of making valentines and valentine boxes and sharing them in school.
Another resident shared that her mother had passed away on Valentine’s Day, and that, after she passed, they found beautiful valentines that her mother had purchased for them and how treasured they were.
“A good story causes your brain to release a chemical that makes you more empathetic. A team of researchers in the UK found that the brains of people who listened to character-driven stories released oxytocin, a chemical that is connected to feelings of love and empathy.”
Not all stories bring laughter and joy; some bring tears, but all these stories help us understand and connect with one another.
I find that, while story sharing can be spontaneous, it can help to get the ball rolling by starting with a topic of shared experience. Once the storytelling begins, you can sit back and listen, letting each person share their story. After a story has been told, everyone can chime in with similar experiences or pieces of the story that touched them. It is a wonderful way to spend time with special people in your life and learn something that you may never have known about someone you care for. These are moments to be treasured.
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