The Villager, 2019
Bob Abson, 93, has more than a hundred bolo ties that he’s fashioned from souvenirs he’s collected during his travels. Today, he’s wearing one with a purple geode as he holds up an old photograph of him dancing with his wife. A talented folk dancer and instructor, Bob can no longer dance, or remember the steps to call out. Still, he recognizes the music and loves watching others dance. So it was more than just a fond wish fulfilled when a group of folk dancers who were old friends of Bob’s, several of whom he had trained, performed at Central Baptist Village for his birthday.
“Bob was very involved in planning the event and he was able to share his passion for folk dancing,” says Becca Galuska, Director of Life Enrichment at CBV. “It became so much more. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful performance, but they also learned more about Bob.”
Galuska and her staff wondered if there were other dreams and wishes that they could make happen. Because CBV was gearing up to raise money for a wheelchair-accessible van, they asked residents what they would do if they could just go for a drive. The requests came in, fast and furious. And over the past six months, CBV staff began working with residents to design their own dream adventures.
Marty Martinetti, for example, toured Wrigley Field. Geraldine Meyer and her daughter visited Millennium Park. Barb Essig spent a leisurely day at the mall with her girlfriends, the way she used to do—shopping and talking over a long lunch. “Do you know how long it takes to walk through the mall at my age?” She laughs. “It was so wonderful to be able to relax with my BFFs and not worry about the time.
Although the fundraiser for the Village Van has successfully concluded, Galuska says the ‘Dream Adventures’ concept has become part of CBV’s approach to its life enrichment program. As she explains, dreams, memories and reminiscing are closely related and can often be sad and difficult to cope with. “We’ve created a new tradition that’s empowering and hopeful. By recognizing and sharing residents’ passions, we can incorporate their memories into the present moment to make new ones.”
Hanging on Bob’s wall next to his bed is a collage of photographs from his birthday celebration, including one of him surrounded by the folk dancers. If you look closely, you can see the bolo tie Bob wore that day has a bright, colorful bird dancing on a field of white which, in Pennsylvania Dutch country where he bought the little pin, represents happiness and good fortune.