Love, Love, Love

Posted on 03/15/24 by Joyce E. Williams

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There is a line tucked away in a Gertrude Stein poem of nearly four hundred lines, written in 1913 entitled Sacred Emily that says, a “rose is a rose is a rose.” There is no clear clue from the lines before or following in Stein’s poem indicating what it means. Some academics have said it is a more vernacular version of William Shakespeare’s line in Romeo and Juliet that says, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Still others say it simply means “things are what they are” – a statement of the law of identity – “A is A” or to use a common phrase of today – it is what it is.

Whatever the resolution to those interpretations is, one thing perhaps unrelated or maybe for this report, tangential, is that most can agree that people in institutions such as nursing homes or other long term care facilities being cared for by others because they can no longer care for themselves, is that many suffer from loss of social contact, loneliness, isolation and even sometimes abandonment. Research in healthy aging has concluded again and again that the need for social contact is an essential component of who we are.

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As a charitable affiliate of AARP, Wish of a Lifetime engages older adults at risk for isolation and their communities of care in impactful experiences that strengthen social connections and help them to live more vibrant and purposeful lives. Since its founding in 2008, Wish of a Lifetime has granted over 2,700 wishes to help older Americans fulfill their dreams while reconnecting them with the people and passions that matter most to them.

Knowing that Valentine's Day can be especially hard for older adults, the Cupid Crew campaign was created in 2014 to help send love to isolated older adults. Cupid Crew started with cards and roses, but in-person deliveries were stopped in 2020. It went from just 1,400 to over 230,000 in 2024, with a total of 983,000 cards and roses since 2014.

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In the Commonwealth of Virginia, scores of AARP Virginia volunteers and AARP chapter members delivered thousands of roses to dozens of care facilities statewide. Nationwide, roses were delivered to more than 230,000 recipients.

Recipients were giddy with happiness when they received their roses. Tears of joy were shed, kisses thrown, hugs and more hugs. A woman named Alma, who is deaf, used American Sign Language to sign, “thank you” and “I love you.” When asked if he had anything to say about the gift of the rose he received, a man named Herman said, “Somebody loves me.”

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To these recipients, a rose was not just a rose. Instead, it was an act of love they will treasure. The lesson here is that simple acts of kindness can help make people feel socially connected, while without such gestures, loneliness and isolation can be debilitating and lead to hopelessness.

AARP thanks all the sponsors and volunteers who made this project successful.

This story is provided by AARP Virginia. Visit the AARP Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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