“You’re such a nice and handsome young man.”
“Thank you very much. That’s very kind of you.”
“I have a grand daughter that’s available. Tell me sweetie, are you Jewish?”
“No, I’m not.”
The elderly woman took my hand, caressed it and said, “We can’t all be perfect.”
And this is how it goes every year when I do the Mother’s Day event at an elderly home here in Los Angeles. The day usually begins with us (the clowns) handing out corsages to all the elderly ladies while being escorted by some cute young volunteer girl. Another clown and I always start the day at 8am being escorted by a volunteer, that’s always a cute young girl, and handing out corsages to all the elderly ladies.
“They ALL try to set me up with their grandsons all the time. At least you only have to hear on Mother’s Day. I hear it everyday I volunteer. I had to stop telling them I was Jewish because once they that got that little nugget of info they never let up. But they’re sweet,” a young hottie volunteer once told me.
It’s a really fun gig to work. I have experience working with the elderly; I worked at a hospital that had a retirement home wing for six years in my youth. Some days when I would go to work I would bring my guitar with me and play and sing for them. It never mattered what I played, what was important to them was the fact that I was spending time with them.
I think that even if I didn’t hand out flowers to all these woman they would’ve just been happy to have someone, anyone, come in and wish them a happy mother’s day. So coming in dressed as a clown and bearing gifts made it all that more special. I love seeing the women’s eyes light up when I stroll into their room with a flower for them. Unfortunately, it can also be very sad. Some of the women are comatose, have Alzheimer’s, or dementia. Still, EVERY woman, patient or not, at the elderly home gets a flower.
“That’s so nice of you, young man, but I’m an old maid. I never had any children.”
“I used to be a man.”
It didn’t matter to me what the excuse was… They all got a flower.
It’s also not uncommon to do this event and not see the same faces as the year before.
“It’s really tough when one of them passes away,” a twenty-year-old female volunteer named Danielle, who was assigned to escort me one year, told me. “It’s sad. Really sad.”
We pass out flowers from 8am to 10am (we are always there until 10:30 or a little longer) then we drive to the main complex where the real party starts at 11am. From 11am to 2pm the families of the residents are all invited to show up for a free lunch, singing, dancing, face painting, balloon animals, and more flowers. It’s a big event and the local news cameras show up and cover the event. It’s so big that four more clowns show up for the 11am to 2pm shift. In total, there are six clowns running around entertaining everyone. The event crescendos with a great big sing-and-dance-along lead by a live band that even the elderly in wheelchairs join in on.
Sadly, some families don’t show up.
This is where we come to the reason why I am posting this before Mother’s Day (and I’ll try not to sound to preachy). Spend time with your mom if you can. I live 3000 miles away from my Mom (I moved to L.A. from the East Coast to be and actor) and can’t physically “see” her, but I always send her something and call her on Mother’s Day. If you are geographically close, take your mom out and treat them extra special. If you can’t do that, then spend time with them and let them talk about the “old days.” I noticed that the residents who were actually taken out for a few hours before the big party were always the happiest ones at the party. They love to tell us clowns how their son or daughter is so wonderful and how they went out for a “special” breakfast.
Moms are human. They will not always be there. Appreciate them while they are, and let them know you love them by giving them a little bit of your time.
And if you can, make them a flower bouquet out of balloons. If you can’t, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have a clown around to make one for you.
I AM a Purple Dino Type.