In middle school, I was a Junior Girl Scout. Our troop had over 24 neighborhood girls, actively working to acquire more Girl Scout badges for their sashes. Obtaining a badge ensured you had the necessary skills to sew, cook, camp, orienteering, and more. One badge project was creating “apple” dolls. This is an old technique of carving faces into an apple (Click here to learn more) creating the head for a doll. As the apple dries it slowly darkens and ages before your eyes. It took weeks of carving, constructing the body and hand sewing clothes to finally complete our project. But we needed to do more to receive our badges. As a community service project we took our apple dolls to a local nursing home as gifts for the residents.
Visiting a nursing home was not uncomfortable for me. I was fortunate enough to have been born when all of my grands and greats were alive and had wonderful, loving memories. When we arrived, all the residents were in one room. It may have been dinner time or a party. What I do remember was how quiet they were. It was an awkward feeling as our Girl Scout Troop stood, clustered together, holding our apple doll creations. Our troop leader instructed us to meet the residents and talk with them. On the far side of the room was a wheel chaired woman, covered in blankets, wearing socks on her hands. Her face resembled my apple doll! As I walked toward her she stared at my doll, then faster than I could think, she grabbed my apple doll with her sock covered hands and cradled it beneath her blankets with a wry smile on her face. She wouldn’t talk but from her body language, she loved the doll and I received my badge!