Papa’s grandson Tyler is working on a school project and recently mailed Flat Stanley to him. Flat Stanley is a character in a set of children’s books who became flattened when a large bulletin board fell on him one night while he was sleeping. The books are based on the adventures Stanley has after his brother decides to mail Stanley to visit friends all over the world. The Flat Stanley Project encourages students to mail a small Flat Stanley to their friends and have them take pictures with Stanley to record his journey. Tyler’s class is participating in this project and he wrote a note asking Papa to show Flat Stanley some of the fun sites in our local area. The weather was beautiful this past weekend so hoping for an adventure I thought I would take Papa and Stanley on a trip to Washington DC, and to also log in some steps. Papa was hesitant wondering how far he would be walking but he will do anything for his grandchildren and was game to try. His only comment before we left was do they have benches; can I can sit and relax every now and then? I assured him there are plenty of benches along the mall in DC, and we will stop whenever Stanley or Papa needs to rest.
As we got closer Papa was a bit worried about carrying Stanley with us, and asked if he could tuck him in his shirt pocket. I never heard of Flat Stanley before, no one will know who he is, and they will think I am weird. I reminded him about the books and photos I had shown him of Flat Stanley online and assured him that people will know Flat Stanley, but it was OK for Stanley to ride in his pocket if he wanted. You cannot imagine his relief as we asked a few people to take our picture while walking around Washington. Every person not only knew who Flat Stanley was, they were more than happy to share their experience with Papa. One girl told us about how her brother had made a life-size Flat Stanley several years ago and mailed him to friends in Japan; a visiting family laughed and told us how they showed Stanley around a small town in Ohio which wasn’t nearly as interesting as DC; and a third person said her class completed the project and she still has her Flat Stacey along with the letters and photos she received from almost 20 years ago. It was nice to see others fond memories of Flat Stanley and to watch Papa’s confidence grow as we spoke to people and he was able to start telling others exactly who this Flat Stanley belonged to and why he was carrying him around.
Ironically we learned that Stanley loves McDonalds, just like Papa, so we had to make that our first stop on our tour. Papa could not have been more thrilled!
Papa has toured Washington on previous trips but he does not recall being there, and as is common with memory loss it is frustrating to have someone tell you have been somewhere or done something if you cannot recall the memories. Because of this we treat many of Papa’s experiences as if they are happening for the first time. Papa, Stanley and I did not run into any exciting escapades this weekend, but it was nice to be able to explore the area and talk with some tourists while taking pictures with Flat Stanley at some key places in DC. Fortunately Stanley will be staying with us for a few more weeks so we will be able to take him back to see the cherry blossoms blooming along the tidal basin, and wander with other visitors along the mall to see other monuments and memorials and hopefully finding an open bench every now and then so Papa can talk to tourists or tell us what he is wondering about. We also have plans to see a baseball game next week, a full stadium for the Nationals season opener is bound to be an adventure for both Papa and Stanley! Go Nats!
Stanley humbly rode in Papa’s pocket throughout the morning, but by afternoon Papa was proudly waving him to others along our walk. It is wonderful that Papa is increasing his steps in our neighborhood but it was also perfect timing to receive Flat Stanley to encourage Papa to walk with us in other areas. Papa does great on both local and extended walks and on several occasions has logged in over three times his daily step count in just a few hours. Papa might tire easily and he never goes by an open bench without stopping, he may need a pep talk some days to get going and he may need to take frequent bathroom breaks along the way but his stamina will increase as we encourage him to keep moving, one step at a time! What is good for the heart is good for the brain and each step will help Papa’s cognitive functions and help get Papa in shape for his summer trip. Thanks to Tyler, and Stanley, for helping Papa add a few more steps to his Fitbit, we had a great time!