Today we took my 88-year-old, pacemaker wearin’, Alzheimer-afflicted mother to her first Renaissance Faire.
She loved it!
I admit I was a little concerned. I wasn’t sure her mind could fit itself around the fantasy of the Faire. Bear in mind that this is a woman who never indulged in fantasy. Beyond a certain affection for Mary Martin’s “Peter Pan” and the original “Miracle of 34th Street,” she’s never displayed a particularly fantastical inclination. In fact, the only fantasy stories she’s ever read are my own. Plus with the whole dementia angle, I had no idea if her mind would just winge right off into the ozone at the first “Hale, m’lady!”
When we arrived at King Arthur’s Fall Harvest Festival (put on by The Connecticut Renaissance Faire), I asked Mom if she’d ever heard of medieval times and the Renaissance and she said she had, so I explained that the Faire was about celebrating and wearing costumes of that era. A kilted young man walking by at the time kindly stopped and spoke to her and let her admire his regalia…and she was hooked. (I think it probably didn’t hurt that he was attractive.)
Taking full advantage of her new wheelchair, she and hubby and I tooled all over the fairgrounds. She kept saying, “I never knew there was such things.” She tried on her first set of horns (see photo), teased with the fair staff, received a ticket from the Sheriff of Nottingham for ignoring a stop sign, excessive frivolity, and having a poor driver (me), and sat rapt through a performance by the fabulous, acrobatic Circus Stella. “I can’t believe I never knew this existed,” she kept saying. “I can’t believe I had to wait until I was 88 to see it.” She marveled at the costumes, the wares, the birds of prey, the archery. Every new sight was a wonder. She spoke at length with a craftsman who etches glass, asking questions about his art and how he does it, and admiring his work. (A dragon with a $1000 price tag was a true eye-catcher.)
She was still talking about the faire when I put her to bed about a half-hour ago. I’m tempted to take her again next weekend if the weather cooperates. She hasn’t yet seen a joust and it would be worth the price of admission for that alone. I’m also thinking…there’s a faire downstate in the spring. If Mom is as good then as she is now, I’m tempted to dress her in costume as a queen, turn her wheelchair into a throne, and let her take the faire by storm. Who knows what magic might ensue?