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Washington Voices

Senior center celebrates Christmas creatively

Thu., Dec. 6, 2012

Larry and Diana Enloe live at Lilac Plaza Retirement Center, and they teach art classes there. This holiday season, they have created a hallway display, complete with a hand-painted backdrop and handmade decorations. (Colin Mulvany)
Larry and Diana Enloe live at Lilac Plaza Retirement Center, and they teach art classes there. This holiday season, they have created a hallway display, complete with a hand-painted backdrop and handmade decorations. (Colin Mulvany)

Many of the residents at Lilac Plaza Retirement Center can no longer just jump in a car and drive around looking at holiday lights. Instead, residents decorate the different floors at the north Spokane retirement center so they can look at the decorations and visit with one another.

One of this year’s favorite displays is a mural of a snow-covered landscape, with mountains in the background and skaters gliding on a sparkling frozen pond.

“I think it looks like Aspen,” said Diana Enloe, beaming at the mural artist, her husband, Larry Enloe.

He shrugged and chuckled.

“The things I paint just come out of my head,” he said. “It’s nowhere specific.”

Diana Enloe made three dolls out of Styrofoam and dressed them like carolers from the 1800s. The carolers stand below a lamppost Larry Enloe built for the display.

The Enloes are both retired and live at Lilac Plaza. She was always quilting and he’s been painting all his life, so they combined their artistic skills to make the winter landscape.

They seem like one of those couples who’ve been together forever, but they just got married in January.

“The Lord brought us together,” Diana Enloe said.

Friends for most of their adult lives, she was married and he joined the Army and was working in Germany for a long time. They never had feelings toward each other besides friendship.

“Then my husband died after 40 years of wonderful marriage,” Diana Enloe said. “It was just a very difficult transition.”

The couple’s first date was at the Senior Prom at Lilac Plaza.

“We just love it here,” said Diana Enloe, whose mother also lives at the retirement center.

Soon after moving in, the Enloes began turning a basement room into a craft room.

“There really was nothing here,” Larry Enloe said, “and the light was really bad down here in the hallway.”

He helped put up new lighting and now Lilac Plaza residents exhibit their paintings, drawings and quilts on the walls in a basement gallery. Many of the pieces are for sale.

Diana Enloe finally found use for the large stash of fabric she had accumulated as a lifelong quilter.

“When my husband died and I was going through things I just had this heaviness in my heart about getting rid of the fabric,” said Diana Enloe, who kept it all in a storage unit. “Now I know why I kept it.”

Seniors and caregivers can sort through and pick fabric for quilting projects and use the sewing machines there. Larry Enloe helps residents with painting and drawing, and he also helps with the occasional framing project.

Do they consider themselves art therapists?

“No,” they both said with emphasis and at the same time. “We do this because we love it.”



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