Heigh-Ho, Come to the Fair

Today we took my 88-year-old, pacemaker wearin’,  Alzheimer-afflicted mother to her first Renaissance Faire.

Mom rocking her horns

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?


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's, King Arthur's Fall Harvest Festival, Mother, Renaissance Fair, The Connecticut Renaissance Faire and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Heigh-Ho, Come to the Fair

  1. itwoman says:

    the owners of the King Arthur event also provide a Faire event in the Spring, in Guilford, If you keep an eye on http://www.ctfaire.com or facebook.com/ctfaire you will get all the info. What a lucky mom to have you to expose her to new adventures!

    • Thank you, both for the info and the praise. As long as I can stimulate Mom’s brain, I intend to try. I’ll keep an eye out for the event in Guilford. (And if you’re there, and you see a blond woman pushing a maroon wheelchair, come say hello.)

  2. John says:

    Merlin was prouncing around somewhere.

  3. How wonderful! You are opening up a whole new world for her!

  4. Sandy Bratzel says:

    That’s so wonderful, Melissa. My mom is going to be 88 in a couple of weeks, and she has macular degeneration. It’s hard to think of things we can do together, since she can’t see well. But, we enjoy cooking together, and just generally hanging out. I’m so glad you had a good time with your mom at the faire. It sounds like a really good one.

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