Grouchy friend or relative? This might soften them up

“I told her,” Barbara spat, in her thick, Polish accent. “‘You leave your underwear here? Get out of my house!’”

She stuck her chin out in defiance, while I pressed my lips together and tried to look concerned. This was the third time I’d heard this story today. I wasn’t even sure it was true.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and I was volunteering at the day centre for seniors with dementia. When I’m there, I help with the mechanics, but mostly I come so I can sit and keep the clients company. The range of dementia they suffer from is pretty broad; some can barely string a sentence together. Others seem mostly to be all there – like Barbara.

But she did love to repeat stories about her family.

As well as the niece who got thrown out, we’d hear about her sister – who she’d only refer to as “The Beetch”. As in,

“The Beetch called me today. She thinks she can come and stay with me. Ha! I don’t want you here! Get a hotel!”

I am famously a wildly positive person. I have the word ‘yes’ tattooed onto my finger. My business is called Yes Yes Marsha. I usually have no truck with cynics.

But Barbara?…

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The MOST important part of any story (it’s probably not what you think!) (5/5 in the story series)

I put the CD into the player and felt my stomach fizz with excitement. After months of stillness, finally, I was going to bring the room to life! I pressed play and looked up, expecting to see all the seniors bopping along. Instead: nothing.

No movement. One old lady eventually looked at me and furrowed her brow.

“This is The Beatles?” she asked.
“Yes!” I replied.
“Huh.”
She went back to her newspaper.

I was volunteering at the day centre for seniors with dementia, and I wanted to move them with music. But they had other ideas…

That’s one way to begin this story. Here’s another:

This is a story about the power of music, and surprising yourself – about the time I made a CD for the seniors that I work with, thought they didn’t like it, and then got shocked by an old lady, who danced the jitterbug with me like she was 16 again.

It all started when I first put the CD on. After months of stillness, finally, I was going to bring the room to life…

I ask people (during client calls or storytelling workshops), “Which is the most important part of any story?”
Here’s what they usually guess:

The narrative
The detail
The ending
The climax

In fact, the answer is…

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Not Getting A Response From Someone? This Might Be The Issue

Emma rolled her eyes, “Don’t worry,” she told me, “She’s ALWAYS like this.”

“Isn’t there anything we can do?” I asked. Emma was in charge, and I was too new to say what I was really thinking: that this woman was going to be isolated from the group.
“We’re not legally allowed to help her put it back in. So: no.”

I went and sat back down at the table next to Sandra.

“I’m sorry,” I said, shaking my head and pointing at…

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