Nursery schools and hospice care facilities rarely have anything in common. That changed last summer when Countryside Montessori School in Creve Coeur began a partnership with Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care of Missouri: give artwork from preschoolers to hospice patients to cheer them up.
When the idea was pitched to Jenifer Hanser, the owner of Countryside Montessori, she saw a great opportunity to serve the community.
“We do artwork with the children every day,” said Hanser. “So what a neat way to, you know, have the children do something that can brighten someone's day, that is not doing well and really needs some sunshine brought into their life.”
Hanser’s students range from 8 days to 5 years old, so they likely have no idea about hospice and its meaning.
“We try to keep it pretty basic for them. They just know that they're making artwork to help brighten someone's day that's not doing very well at the moment,” said Hanser.
Which brings us to 93-year-old Herbert Young, a resident at Fairwinds River’s Edge Retirement Home in St. Charles, Missouri. Young recently began hospice care. It’s a sobering development for him and his wife of 72 years.
“When you get to be our age and have problems, you accept that and understand that you know, your time is limited,” said 92-year-old Jean Young. “Our time is coming.”
When hospice worker Romona Johnson delivered the artwork recently, the Youngs were all smiles, grateful for the youngsters’ artwork.
“Because they're young and just starting out. We appreciate that,” said Herbert Young.
Herbert and Jean were high school sweethearts who planned to marry until World War II postponed their plans.
“We dated in high school, but then he had to go to the war,” said Jean.
Herbert was in the Coast Guard, where his unit had a crucial role: saving lives on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Coast Guard’s job was rescuing more than 1400 soldiers involved in the Normandy Beach invasion.
“Saving American lives. I thought it was a great cause,” said Herbert Young. “Probably a lot of things that I try to forget rather than remember.”
The very young and the very old suddenly have something in common because of the Montessori school artwork.