Skip to content

Raising Cain with the Curtain Raisers: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Relative

June 9, 2017

Act 1 at Mesmerizing Mortuary. The wackier the names, the better.

It may have been an “off off off off  OFF Broadway” play as the director/producer/playwright claimed in her opening announcements before the show.

Our row : my oldest sister Nancy in foreground, my nephew (shaved head) and sister Pert, eyes half closed. (Sorry about that, this was a crowd picture.)

My mother, Bertha, in purple, next to “Jessie Underhand” in his “casket” clothes, and other cast members.

But there was a turn-away crowd plus extra chairs had to be put in the aisles for the opening matinee performance of “Where There’s A Will, There’s a Relative” on June 2. This was at a retirement complex and Mom was playing the part of one of two widows (along with others) who show up with hands out to see if they’ve been named in the will of “Jesse Underhand” after he kicks the bucket.

Pre-performance jitters: Pert looking over Mom’s script with Mom in costume.

My mother has always enjoyed acting in skits and talent shows where she could raise Cain and act silly, wear outlandish clothes and even earrings (long forbidden in our upbringing), and best of all make people laugh. When we were kids, our friends claimed they loved coming to our house because Mom always made them laugh.

It had been on my bucket list to finally get to one of the plays put on by an awesome drama group, The Curtain Raisers, as part of Amy Willhelm’s creative activity director work for Greencroft Retirement Community in Goshen, Indiana. Mom will be 93 in July, and I knew it was high time to make it a priority to see her perform, after having to miss three previous shows for one reason or another. My sister Pert also traveled to Indiana for the play, and we loved joining my sister who lives nearby for the event.

The play was great, missed lines and all. I hasten to add these senior citizens—some of them very senior, read their scripts from a book (no memorization of lines) but they practice hard and truly work at delivering their lines with the best possible annunciation, in character, and leaving gaps after punch lines for people to laugh. They love ad-libbing and getting permission to add lines to the show.

The theme—dealing with the death of a loved one—seems like a somber topic especially for this crowd, and Amy as script writer had actually woven in good solid information about how a will is probated, getting copies of death certificates for the executor, and how long to expect certain things to take. Being able to laugh in the face of life’s realities and not take ourselves too seriously was certainly another take away from the play.

Mom and “son” and “daughter in law” who show up to make claims on the estate after being estranged from underhanded Jessie most of their lives. Or was Jessie the world’s worst procrastinator?

But for the actors, they also enjoy much laughter as they prepare for the play. Director Willhelm purposely writes humorous dramas that draw from their life experiences. As Mom says, the work and fun keeps their minds alert and striving for a wonderful goal together. My hat is off to this ambitious director who offers these seniors such a creative and fun opportunity.

Helping Mom out the door, movie star glasses and all. She always wear dark glasses outside due to her eye issues.

Mom’s entourage helped her into the car, plus me playing paparazzi, of course.

Roses for our star and congratulating the rest of the cast.


What would you like to be doing when you’re almost 93? Anything on your bucket list?


What activities did or do your parents or loved ones enjoy in their senior years?


I’m proud to have served as editor for this book dealing with aging themes by Dr. Glen Miller, who now lives in the same apartment complex at Greencroft. It is titled Living Thoughtfully, Dying Well: A Doctor Explains How to Make Death a Natural Part of Life. Find more information or purchase, here.

Living Thoughtfully, Dying Well


From → Faith, Family Life

  1. Breaking my blog break to say “Hilarious”! I hope to live to 93 and beyond, Melodie – so much writing and traveling on my bucket list;

    • Glad this pulled you in. Yes, we must write and travel while we can! I didn’t say in this post that Mom is almost 80% deaf, my guess. Real problems hearing, even with hearing aids. In this play she used the script to keep up with where others were, watching when they turned the pages. Only one time did she miss a page turn and was kind of lost. But the good people with her helped cue her back. Quite a little community, with a wide age spread.

  2. Love this, Melodie! Your mom is such a character — and proof that we can all live our vocations to the very end of life. Jubilación! I was a little jealous of Amy for the sake of my own mom. She would love to do something like this.

    As for my own bucket list. I’m moving through places that have called me. This summer will be Baltic sea ports and Norway. Next summer Ireland. We hope to return to Nova Scotia in 2019 and take our whole family to visit our honeymoon sites on our 50th wedding anniversary plus add a few days on Prince Edward Island.

    • Yes, jubilación! (and I borrowed your accent mark). I hope this activities director inspires others to take on or arrange for this kind of opportunity for those who will love it. I was thinking after I posted this I feel guilty, kind of, that my mom is mentally in such good shape, where so many of my friends have mothers impacted severely by dementia or Alzheimer’s. Dad had dementia pretty bad, so I’m trying to savor these days, for sure.

      You have a great bucket list coming. It is great to plan ahead like that–gives so much to anticipate and hope for. Bon voyage. Or something.

  3. Athanasia permalink

    How fun, for the spectators and the participants. I like your mother’s purple…purple is my favorite color.

    I don’t have any kind of list. In fact I don’t really care for this term bucket and don’t understand how it became so.ubiquitous. I just look forward to every day.

    My mother retired early due to a deal from the school system that they could retire at 62 rather than 65 with no loss of benefits. But my father was 9 years older than my mother and he retired at 65. He kept himself busy volunteering with school and church and the Red Cross. They had the summers to travel and took a number of bus tours. They both came from large families so there were always plenty of family activities to attend. But my father died unexpectedly. My mother is still very active, volunteers with church and school and the historical society and knits for KAS (Knit a Square) . She still volunteers at the blood drives but after my father died she stopped working with the disaster relief.

  4. I’m glad you were able to enjoy my description and photos of the play. I also appreciate your flagging the over-use of the term bucket list etc. I hear you!

    My husband retired early too (at 62) and he’s looking at going on his first disaster relief (actually this Brethren group focuses on rebuilding) later this summer or perhaps fall. I will be so excited if he gets to go–what I hope to do someday too along with other ideas! I’m glad your father was able to enjoy some years of retirement. My husband is freer than he’s been since he was 5, and it is much appreciated!

    Thanks for adding your two or three cents!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Jennifer Murch

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. -Twyla Tharp

Trisha Faye

Cherishing the Past while Celebrating the Present


To walk or tramp about; to gad, wander. < Old French - trapasser (to trespass).

Tuesdays with Laurie

"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan

Hickory Hill Farm

Blueberries, grapes, vegetables, and more

The Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ

The Website & Blog of David D. Flowers

Cynthia's Communique

Navigating careers, the media and life

the practical mystic

spiritual adventures in the real world

Osheta Moore

Shalom in the City

Shirley Hershey Showalter

writing and reading memoir

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

mama congo

Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.


Harmony, grace and wisdom for family living.

Roadkill Crossing

Writing generated from the rural life

%d bloggers like this: