What Makes Picnics and Teatime So Irresistible

 Packing a picnic can help make medical appointments feel a bit less daunting.

When Maria’s* family asked whether I could accompany her to a doctor’s appointment as part of our weekly Creative Companionship visit, I felt reluctant at first. I’ve always maintained that Blooming Caravan comes in when your basic caregiving needs are met, and that while creativity and nature are certainly therapeutic for the soul, my services are not medical.

I was swayed, however, when I called Maria to reschedule this week’s get-together—a picnic lunch in a park near her retirement home—so that she could attend her appointment instead. Maria sounded not only disappointed that our outing would be delayed but also reluctant about seeing this particular specialist.

“I’m not sure it’s necessary that I go,” she said in an effort to convince me to stick to our original plan.

Then Maria came right out and asked me directly: Would I mind going with her to see the specialist, just this once? And in that moment I decided that we should turn the unpleasant obligation into an enjoyable excursion and still have our picnic.

Having grown up with a rare disease, I’m now accustomed to tests and checkups as well as the inevitable long periods of time spent in waiting rooms. Yet, even as an adult, I still get the feeling while I’m sitting in these clinical environments that it would be nice to have someone accompany me. Even though it’s been over 15 years since my mom last drove me to an appointment, what I will always remember most about our trips to the hospital was the one-on-one time with her and our special teatime. My mom would always make sure we took the time to sit on the wooden bench on the hospital’s front lawn. She’d carefully pull out a thermos of hot black tea and a treat for us to share: South African rusks or ginger snaps or a slice of homemade carrot cake.

Hospital days were not always happy days for me. Some appointments were better than others. But never feeling alone is what I remember most about those visits, and that’s why I’m packing a picnic today. Can adding a touch of creative companionship to Maria’s day help make her medical appointment feel a bit less daunting? I am betting that it does!

*Name changed for privacy.