Stories are everywhere. They can come from a thought or an idea. Some emerge from experiences; others are inspired. All are the result of the teller’s imagination. However a story is conceived, each one faces the dilemma of a beginning and ironically, it is the hardest place to start.
This is a story of opportunity and imagination and it begins with a painting.
It was story time for the residents in the Gardens, and the storyteller was a no-show. If you aren’t familiar with the Gardens, it is the Alzheimer’s wing of Courtyard Estates. I value that connection; it keeps me grounded when I get frustrated with what I can’t do. Then a situation will arise — such as a no-show of a storyteller — and I remind myself to recognize opportunities to do something.
I grabbed a painting, an easel, a baseball hat, a ruler and a cape and threw a cloth over the picture.
With an exaggerated toss of my cape, I raised my ruler, removed the cover and told them they were going to be the story makers, and the painting would be their story.
“This is your story,” I said. “Tell it with what you see in the painting.”
They began with the little boy fishing in the Des Moines River, with a pail full of fish. His big brother didn’t catch fish and had an empty pail. From the painting, their story took shape. I thought it would end with the trees.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
They looked beyond the trees to another river, the Bumblebee River, with a restaurant. The little boy caught fish for the restaurant. Clearly, they were inspired.
The story went like this: There was a little boy fishing in the Des Moines River filling his red pail. His big brother was fishing, and his pail was empty. Behind the trees was another river, the Bumblebee River with bumblebees, snakes and mosquitoes. It had a restaurant. The little boy caught fish for it.
Any sage storyteller knows a good ending can be as tough as the beginning. Not for this group. They continued: A treasure chest full of wine and bourbon sat behind the boys. They had a party, drank all of the wine and bourbon until it was gone.
The time and liquor ran out, so the story ended there.
It was one of those “Wow” moments that takes your breath away. I felt the hand of God had tossed an opportunity in the air and I caught it. I write because I love to build a work of art from words. The Gardens’ residents built a story from a painting. I know they won’t remember it, but I will. Inspiration and imagination are very powerful tools of the trade. When used in tandem, it can open a world beyond the trees.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and every 67 seconds, another American will be diagnosed. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be Sept. 20. To join the walk, or donate to our team, contact Sue Comito at Courtyard Estates, 515-957-8399.