SOCIAL MEDIA

24 February 2014

A Pretty Dress at the Nursing Home





 I loved this outfit. The snow and strong wind, not so much.



During my freshman year of college, I lived with my grandparents. Every Sunday morning we'd go to church, and on the way home, we'd stop to visit my Great-Grandma at the nursing home where she lived. When I was little, my Great-Grandma had lived next door, and as the oldest great-grandchild, I'd occasionally run over to visit her, and have a lesson or two in crocheting or dominoes or painting ceramics.


But in my freshman year of college, she was in a nursing home, and every week my grandparents and I would visit her. She would be sitting out in the common room with 4 or 5 other elderly ladies, all in their wheelchairs. My great-grandma couldn't speak very clearly after her stroke, but she made a point of introducing me to all of the other women in the room, telling them about my family in Malaysia and about the college I was attending.

I knew my great-grandma always looked forward to our visits, but I soon realized that her friends did, too. Ya'll know the way I am. If I have the slightest excuse, I like to dress up. I usually wore dresses to church, and afterwards, in the nursing home, I'd be subjected to endless comments and compliments. From my great-grandma, "You are so beautiful. Beautiful." to the comments of the other ladies.

"When I was your age I had a dress in just that color, I wore it to my Senior dance."

"I wish my granddaughters would dress up the way you do. All they want to wear is jeans."

"Be grateful for that figure while it lasts; I used to be just as slim as you!"

Their comments always made me smile. Sometimes they had stories to tell of dresses from their past,  other times they had a commentary on modern-day fashion.

One day, we came in, and no sooner had I hugged my great-grandma than a lady piped up, "I was just telling Bertha over here that I couldn't wait to see what Margaret's granddaughter would be wearing today!"

Lots of people at my church wear jeans and sweaters. There's nothing wrong with that in my book. But you can bet, after I heard that comment, I put a little more time into dressing up each week. There was no way I'd disappoint the nursing home ladies by coming over for a visit wearing jeans. Sometimes I would switch things up by wearing a Malaysian traditional outfit, which definitely created an uproar.

I dress up because I like to. But also because I learned, over a period of visiting a nursing home every week for 6 months, that dressing up nice can bring other people a little joy, too. I was a 17 year old scrawny college student. These were grandmothers and great-grandmothers, who had lived in a century I could barely remember, now confined to wheelchairs after accomplishing plenty of living. But a pretty dress was a common language. My Sunday clothes turned into conversation starters. Those pieces of fabric jogged memories.

My great-grandma passed away toward the end of my freshman year of college, and I didn't go back to the nursing home after that. But those memories remain. Once upon a time, a little group of women looked forward to talking about what I wore each Sunday, and I gave them something to talk about. Pretty good reason to get dressed, if you ask me.

46 comments :

  1. Such a sweet story - almost made me teary eyed, I'm sure that little group of women enjoyed your company for that period of time! I'm often guilty of just throwing a simple top with some jeans, but I agree that dressing up for things can not just be nice that you put the extra effort into said event, but is even a kind gesture that you hold a high level of respect for those who you'll be seeing. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can just imagine how they must have enjoyed seeing what you were wearing - I love it when something as simple as a visit wearing interesting clothes can make somebody so happy :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a brilliant story. I loved it.

    Another great reason to dress well : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cute outfit! And I liked the story. I mainly live in jeans. Sometimes I'll put on a dress when it's warm but it's mainly jeans for me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Those are sweet memories! And that outfit is so fun. It's great to dress up every now and then

    ReplyDelete
  6. And people still love to see what you are wearing! I know I do. :)
    What a sweet story.

    ReplyDelete
  7. that polka dot sweater!!! so cute! love it!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh what a lovely story! At my Nana's nursing home all the old ladies barely said 2 words, they would just listen in to our conversations... it was really bizarre. I love how they interacted with you! It must have been so nice to visit her there.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love this! Such a sweet story! I used to HATE dressing up! All throughout grade school, I wore jeans and a T-shirt and put my hair in a pony tail. But, upon entering college and becoming an adult, I started to dress more nicely (mainly because it was a requirement for my teaching major). I then discovered my slim figure and began to see myself as pretty. I truly believe that dressing up and trying to look your best really does boost your confidence.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a sweet story! It's funny how little things can really brighten someone's day. I like to dress up a little more than usual when going to church too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a lovely story - and you are a sweetie to dress up for the nursing home visits, Rachel! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Such a sweet story Rachel. I am with you, there is always a reason to dress up, if only for yourself. But if you brighten someones day just because you dress nicely it also makes your heart sing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I la-la-love this dress!! Polka dots are always a winner.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You have the perfect personality for this. I bet you're the kind of person other people can tell is sweet just by looking

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh how I love this! It shows the power an outfit can have. Not only can it make the wearer feel better, but others, too! What a sweet story!

    ReplyDelete
  16. That's always a great reason to get dressed up. :-)

    Mo

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yes.... bringing joy to the other people is the best part.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Beautiful post! I love to dress up too, mostly because I feel more confident. And I have lovely clothes, why wouldn't I wear them? I used to volunteer in an assisted living home, and you'd be surprised what little things will bring the residents joy. A lot of them have no visitors, so I bet those ladies looked forward to your visits all week!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love how you dress up to bring joy to others...You know, I was telling my husband about your blog an how fun and free you seem. I bet you are a blast to be around, and you have the happiest smile! Hope your week goes well!

    xo-Brittney

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a lovely story. you look gorgeous:))))) beautiful post
    Hugs Beata

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is DARLING. I love nursing homes. My mom would take us to nursing homes in Japan and Korea (even though we didn't know anyone there). She was friends with the nuns. We would sit with the people there, hold their hands and even dance with them. It was so fun. They were so happy to have young company. Sometimes I didn't even speak the same language. :) Your efforts made such a difference. Isn't that amazing?

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love the polka dots! I wear jeans a lot, but I "dress them up" with nice blouses, blazers, and shoes. People always think I'm more dressed up than *I* think I am. I just don't own any sweatpants, very few t-shirts, and hate sneakers, so I like to make jeans very fashionable. I have tons of dresses though, but never wear them but maybe I will now that it is warmer.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is a really cool story! I love the dresses you post on here! I love dressing up but I am glad I don't have to every day. Of I had to dress up every day it would take the fun out of it. I like being feature on Sundays and the occasional date night.

    ReplyDelete
  24. What an awesome story, Rachel! I love how you said the way you dress can bring other people joy! Such a small statement, but you never really think of fashion in that light! I'm glad you have these memories to carry with you! Thanks for sharing with us.
    morepiecesofme.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. This is a beautiful story! There's something so wonderful about the elderly... they see so much joy in the little things, and have so many stories of their own to tell. I'm glad you were able to brighten their weeks and that they were able to provide some meaningful insight to you!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Aw what a sweet story, thanks for sharing =) I'm loving how your hair matches your outfit in the photos!

    ReplyDelete
  27. That is so sweet!! That you went so often and that the ladies appreciated your outfits! That's a great way to spread a little joy to their lives. :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. this story is so sweet - it's almost like your outfits became an act of kindness :) i was at the nursing home today to visit my grandma, and she took us (me and jon) around to visit all her friends that weren't able to get out of the house (hooked up to oxygen tanks or recently had surgery) -- it really did seem to make them happier to have us visit :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Wow, I really love the story behind this! Your bow is so cute! :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. I love the bow!!!!!!!!!! Bows are my favorite! I actually hate getting dressed up miles it's for a wedding or something like that... I'm boring!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Awe you were so dedicated :) God knew what those ladies and you needed to feel blessed. Rachel Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean about large households. Thanks for your comment. I come from a family of now 13- I am the oldest. 11 are adopted, 1 from Virginia and the other 10 from Asia (China and Vietnam) so we didn't have extravagant things either. I was always put in hand me downs or got hand me down clothes. I disliked it most of the time but now it's all my hubby and I can afford for our kids and as you read in my post God provides :). Be blessed today! Rachel

      Delete
  32. Such a great story and something to really think about.. I usually wear jeans and rarely dress up. I think you're absolutely right that the little old ladies really do appreciate when a young lady dresses nicely. I live in a retirement community and notice that when ladies go out, they dress to the nines! Make up, hair done, beautiful blouses, skirt and blazer with heels, nylons and beautiful broaches and other jewellery. I love it.
    I also love that you visited your grandmother and her friends and made that extra effort to look 'fancy' for them! Good on you.

    ReplyDelete
  33. You are like the best great-grand daughter and grand daughter ever! How nice of you to accompany your grandparents to church AND to visit the nursing home with them. When I was in my first year of University I didn't dedicate that kind of time to family. I love that you took their compliments and comments with so much positivity, and I loved the comment "When I was your age I was as slim as you!"!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Rachel, this is such a touching story. I adored my grandparents too and tried spending as much time as possible with them when they were alive. I also love how you mentioned your style brought joy to the nursing home ladies; spreading joy any way we can is so important in life I think; and fashion is a really playful way to do that! :) Love the big bow! XO, Elif
    http://theboxqueen.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Fabulous post ... thoughtful and perceptive. I really love that you are aware of this aspect of why we dress as we do. I've always thought it was a way to show respect by dressing appropriately for your audience. And particularly older women ... we're all sensitive to this. Wonderful to stick close to one's individuality, but better still to be able to adapt it as you do.
    Excellent ... and you look wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  36. What a wonderful story! I'm so glad you got to spend time with your great grandma before she passed. What sweet memories.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I love your style and this is such a great story!!

    ReplyDelete
  38. A great reason to dress up, I think! Love this story and it is such a wonderful feeling to be able to brighten someone's day.

    Erika @ www.rejoicefortheday.com

    ReplyDelete
  39. its so lovely to hear those lovely comments isnt it? I remember a lady at a checkout once said to me i had truly brightened her day with my colourful outfit. simple statement but it really made me smile. Keep uo the amazing colourful dressing Rachel, you always look wonderful xx

    ReplyDelete
  40. This story makes me want to dress up every time I leave the house!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Aww such a sweet story. I absolutely adore that sweater with the large Polka Dots and hopefully I can purchase one for next Fall/Winter. Love the Teal Sash with it. Great way to make it Girly.

    Have a Fab Weekend, Rachel!!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Awwww... love this! You look cute, as usually... and you know how much I love that you dress up just because!
    Thanks for linking up for Passion For Fashion! ♥

    ReplyDelete