Wednesday, October 19, 2011
TOYS FOR BIG PEOPLE!
I'm sure we've all read about how residents of some nursing homes enjoy having therapy dogs come for visits; other homes have a friendly resident cat who often takes naps on the patient's bed. The little fellow pictured above is a Japanese-developed robotic "baby harp seal," designed to interact with humans at an emotional level. Who could pass up such a cute face?
The elderly have serious needs that often go unmet, says Maja Mataric, co-director of the USC Robotics Research Lab. "Robots aren't a panacea, but if they help people, if they can make their lives better, then what's wrong with that?" according to a recent article in the LA Times.
I'm all for this. I remember my own mother who had to give up her toy poodle when she moved into an apartment. One day she saw a little stuffed toy poodle that looked like her "Cheri" and promptly bought it for herself. It lived with her the rest of her life.
Now first of all I want you to understand that I don't consider myself "elderly." I may be 76, yet I don't think of myself as elderly. I may be getting old, but elderly will always be about 10 years older than my present age.
But I have a confession to make. I do have a few stuffed animals!
The first is my computer pig. I don't have any clue as to where this pig came from. It's been around for at least 11 years, so I'd guess at some point one of my grandkids dropped it off here when the mom brought him or her for a visit.
For a long time I had it sitting up on top my old computer monitor, thinking its owner would claim it, but no one did. I thought it was a cute pig, so it stayed with me. No, I don't play with it.
In 2004 I was making arrangements for the final disposition of my body when I died and the company I was dealing with had a couple of these Monkeys sitting around their office. I figured it was a PR tool and I asked if I could have one. It was the wording on the tee-shirt that caught my eye - "Aaron Cremation and Burial Services." NO ONE has a monkey with such a tee-shirt, I figured! And I was so pleased when the owner took my money and put a monkey in my hand!
Many years ago my mother bought my sister Ginnie Lou and me the book "Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees." Oh how we loved that book, but like most other of our toys we eventually outgrew it. A few years ago I found two copies of that book and bought one for each of us. Ginnie Lou returned the favor by finding and sending me a wrinkled-kneed Camel, so I added that to my now-obvious "collection" of stuffed animals.
The Serta sheep and I have a long partnership. I have watched them jump over the fence more nights than I'd like to remember, and when I saw this fellow in line with my birth year on his back, I knew he had to be added to the rest of my animals.
One of my dreams had always been to go to North Carolina and walk on the Outer Banks. Jerry and I have been many places, including quite a few foreign countries, but North Carolina somehow never made it to the top of the list. So when my cousin Shirlee moved there and invited me for a visit, I couldn't pass the trip up. The red cardinals are ubiquitous around her house, and my purchase of this reminder of that wonderful time and place still gives me pleasure each time I look at it. The cost of the bird was a donation to the Audubon society.
I never intended to have a collection of stuffed animals. And I certainly don't want any more (although the minute I started to write that I thought of how a cute baby harp seal - non-robotic, of course - would look up on the shelf with the others!) Ah well, I don't need any more stuffed animals. Those I have sit happily on the shelf above my computer, along with a stuffed cat that I made some years ago -- I didn't like the way it turned out, but I thought its face was so cute I just had to keep it myself.
So now you know my secret. I DO have a few stuffed animals of my own. But PLEASE don't tell anyone. I wouldn't want anyone to think I truly was getting elderly and needed stuffed animals to caress.