October 17, 2019
Symphony at Stuart (Milestone)
A trip to Stuart Florida to visit Symphony, which turned out to be maybe the most thought-through party so far on the tour. We’re talking residents fully decked out in their shades and visors, staff energy galore, and a baseball theme in the air! Ellen Belk, a personal friend, and dementia guru had choreographed a lot of the details from afar. Ellen knows I’m a Dodger fan, so Dodger paraphernalia was everywhere! (Ironically, they had been knocked out of the playoffs two nights earlier). But the details of this shindig were remarkable. This is the first time in these blogs I’ve called out a chef, John Dallsingh, you are the man! The cake! The food! John even carved 60/20 into a watermelon! Check that out. So much energy from this gang; they were having as much fun as I was.
We did some remarkable cruise and croons, the first of which was with two Vietnam vets. As is the case with some other Vietnam vets, these men had a lot of stuff to sort through, and they were open in their discussions about it. It was reflective, heavy and real. I’m honored they felt they could share with me Then one of the most remarkable cruisers hopped in for the second run – Martin, an articulate, passionate man dealing with dementia. He was a remarkable cruiser. He opened up about the disease – his original bitterness, how he came to terms with it (support from his family and Symphony), heartfelt stories of resiliency, then topped off by his journey of having a black belt in karate. He showed me the goods in his room after the trip was over. One of the most remarkable residents on a journey full of remarkable residents! We had a local TV reporter squeezed into the van to film the shenanigans from the inside out, and that was a blast! And if Martin’s story wasn’t enough, he turned out to have lived for over a decade in the Congo, working both as a missionary as well as a medical technician. These people and their stories are incredible.
Ellen, we’re bummed you couldn’t be there but what a party you threw from afar. The residents, the staff, you rocked it…and I’m still eating the boxes of cracker jacks.