When Ms. Le first arrived at the Asian Community Center Nursing Home as a hospice patient, things were not promising – she had given up on life and was awaiting the inevitable. The family worried about her and hoped for a miracle to turn things around – and the unexpected miracle came from an old Chinese game called Mahjong.
With a little encouragement from her roommate and staff, Ms. Le agreed to play for just a little while – three hours later she was still engaged in the game, and like her peers she was disappointed that the game had come to an end because of dinner. Ms. Le was now a part of the “Mahjongers,” and was making plans to meet and play each day. If there is one thing to know about Mahjong, it’s that you need four players, so Ms. Le was now part of a group that needed her. She was not about to disappoint her new friends! Ms. Le found herself playing mah jong for hours, conversing, laughing, and joking with her friends. Her outlook on life had changed for the better; not only was she juggling a social schedule, she even began to wear jewelry and lipstick again! Since then Ms. Le has revisited old hobbies like sewing and crafting. She’s still visiting with friends and family, participating in group activities with friends and yes, still playing Mahjong.
Mahjong was Ms. Le’s catalyst to a second chance on life, a way to occupy her time, and also get intellectual, emotional, and social stimulation without being the direct object and focus of someone’s attention. Mahjong is not western style therapy or one-on-one intervention, it’s an opportunity to make new friends. Ms. Le has since graduated from the hospice program and has been a happy, busy and contributing member of the ACC Nursing Home community.
Yvette Kamakawiwoole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org