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A picnic day, and farewell to a friend

A picnic was enjoyed by residents, visitors and staff.

It was the big family picnic on Wednesday that took over priority this week. And, no wonder! Everything that makes a picnic fun was on board that day, all wrapped with perfect weather. If we could have prescribed exactly what kind of a day we had in mind, it would have been exactly like that one.

Our grounds were filled that day by happy picnic-goers, residents, children and staff, all with one thing in mind. They were either headed toward the lunch or toward the next event.

Staff did a great job planning the activities and events. A couple of the most popular were the dunking booth, where staff who had volunteered were dumped into a tank filled with water, a children's swimming pool where coins were lurking buried in sand under 6 inches of water proved to be popular.

The most unusual event was the motorcycle rides activity in which a number of residents took part. One lady said she had always wanted to ride a cycle but thought the time it might happen was past.

This is a right time to mention the Damascus Road Group who has a chapter in Wadena. They are interdenominational and nationwide, the Christian Motorcycle Association.

They ride every weekend during the summer, making jaunts from 20 miles to 100 miles. They have been in operation 36 years and give rides without cost to many worthwhile gatherings. One of their members, Carla Leehy, is on our staff. The group can be recognized by the colorful emblems on the backs of their jackets. They were a definite plus at our picnic.

There was much more, DJ music and kids games all evening.

While residents enjoyed the opportunity to invite family and friends to "their" big house, family had a chance to see another facet of their residents' lives and meet the staff. Nursing home personnel at the picnic had a twofold reason to smile.

They were enjoying the picnic atmosphere, but most of all seeing the happiness on their residents' faces. Knowing situations were often not that great but that for this afternoon cares had been put on a back burner gave staff reasons to smile. The most oft heard remark was "Let's do it again next year!"

I can't close without mentioning that we too feel the loss of a good friend with Robert (Bob, to us) Zosel's passing. He was never too busy to visit a bit and knew most of our families as well as we knew them ourselves. He was so generous with his knowledge and time. I will never forget his wit and special brand of humor.

On my last time with Bob, only a week before he passed, I said, "Bob, you and I will soon be knocking on heaven's gate. And when we get there, you'll be busy checking addresses while I root out the bad stories."

With a ghost of a smile, he said, "You are going to be out of a job, because God don't let bad stories in his heaven."

That was our last visit.