In all my life, I’ve met maybe ten or twelve people who cheer me up simply by being present – Rosie Eagle is one of them. Rosie is the Activities Director at Bayley, a well-run retirement commuity on Cincinnati’s west side. Rosie is one of its best gifts to residents and their families.
I pass her office on the way to my mother’s room. Even when Rosie is frantically busy, her office crammed with Christmas ornaments or Easter decorations or whatever she is using for the next event – she always stops, smiles and says something upbeat.
She doesn’t just organize terrific parties – Rosie is the life of each party – singing, dancing, hugging people, dragging all the able bodied into conga lines when bands visit. She’s just fun.
I recall walking into Bayley’s foyer once, and hearing a rich, velvety voice singing at full volume. I followed it down the hall and around the corner to the chapel, wondering who the visiting singer was. It was Rosie – in a former life she was trained in opera!
Not only is she fun, but wonderfully empathetic. One of the first times I met her she took my hand and said, “Your family has been through so much.” Her sincerity melted me to tears.
Since the pandemic, Rosie has strategized every way possible to keep families in contact without risking residents’ safety. She commandeered tablets and trained her staff to facilitate zoom calls so residents could see family members, she coordinated outside family visits, she held a drive-by parade where families in decorated cars wound through all the independent living streets and around the nursing home, waving to the residents who sat outside in spaced-apart chairs.
Recently I got a packet in the mail – a fake passport , a post-card from mom, and pictures of her posed in front of exotic destinations. I can’t imagine all the coordination that activity took, but it did make me smile to see my mother in her ubiquitous gray cardigan, sporting a Hawaain lei under a palm tree on a beach!
I knew that my mother would receive good care at Bayley, but I did not know there would be so many delightful activities to enrich her days and lighten her loneliness. Many people work to make this so, but Bayley would simply not be the same without Rosie’s warmth, vitality and spectacular heart.