Today my daughter, Melinda, and I drove to nearby Emporia, Kansas, where I was scheduled to be the guest speaker for the Lyon County Extension Units' "spring fling." The theme this year was, "Life Can Be a Picnic." Tables were decorated with red and white checked cloths, adorable little red buckets held trail mix, and a delicious brunch of quiche, muffins, and fruit was served. My talk went well, the audience was attentive, and much to my relief they laughed in all the right places (and in none of the wrong ones, as when the slides on my PowerPoint presentation stopped progressing as I wanted).
I sold a few books and then, lest I become too big headed about the whole experience, one of the ladies confided, "You know, we really thought you were your mother-in-law when we heard your name and that you were coming to speak today."
"Yes," chimed another, "Doesn't she make quilts?"
Well, yes, my mother-in-law, Irma Born, makes the loveliest quilts I've ever seen outside of a museum display. The connection (and confusion) between my book and my mother-in-law's quilts was soon explained. A third lady told me about the Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative. She had attended a showing of the quilts in the traveling display entitled "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece".
It turns out that most of the ladies understood who I am and the subject matter I would cover today because they had read the article our local paper printed after I did book signing last fall. But, a few of them know my mother-in-law, and had also heard the story about the traveling display of Alzheimer's quilts--thus, the confusion.
At the end of the day, no one seemed disappointed that I had no quilts to show, my PowerPoint was a hit, and I treasured the opportunity to hear and empathize with the many and varied stories the women shared about their own experiences with a loved one's dementia. There were a few tears of empathy and lots of laughter shared.
All of this seemed to affirm the closing line of my talk: "Even when life throws things at us that are certainly no picnic, there are still joy and laughter yet to be found...because where there is love, life really can be a picnic!"
But, next time I'm invited to be a guest speaker, I think I'll take along one or two of Irma's quilts just in case!