I’ve been reflecting a lot on life the last few weeks. How insane it can prove. How trying, challenging, difficult, dangerous, sad, maddening. How uplifting, pleasant, fun and fun-filled . . . and how <bleeping> swift.
The daily visit to my mother at the long-term facility is proving an eye-opening undertaking. It’s a journey through time—that of the residents and that of mine. In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten to know the names of most of the staff and the thirty-some residents on that floor. We may not be close, but there’s a teeny-weeny connection. So, when one of the residents passes, it rather hits home in some inexplicable way.
I bring my mother a coffee and cookies an hour before breakfast is served and sit with her as she watches the bustling downtown view from the small dining room. We chat about the weather, traffic, rude residents (those who make loud sounds annoy her)—oops, pardon me. Fellow “hotel guests” is how she views them.
Happy to extend a helping hand whenever possible, I assist with dish clean-up before taking my mother for a walk in the long, maze-like lobby. It’s not the same as a stroll in the neighborhood, but it’s something. Weather permitting, and virus outbreaks aside, maybe, just maybe, outdoor strolls will become a possibility.
The majority of the “guests” don’t seem as alert or aware as my mother. Many sleep away most of the day. A few are spoon-fed. The odd one cannot speak and many are hard of hearing. A handful engage in conversations only they are privy to. I suppose that’s inevitable when dementia enters the picture.
It’s a secure, strictly run facility, but those residing within receive much-needed care 24/7. It’s a tiny, enclosed world—but it’s a safe one, and it’s theirs. They have the opportunity to partake in activities, watch movies/TV, listen to music, and participate in social happenings.
At first, it made me sad to watch, to recognize that their days are truly numbered. But happiness is what you make it . . . and the staff and caregivers (and family members) do their utmost to make it the best that it can be.
That many smile and/or wave, even laugh, is heartwarming; now and again, happiness rears its cheery, lovely head. Perhaps it’s short-lived—much like life—but happiness is what you make it. Appreciate and embrace it.
♥ Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length. ♥
Robert Frost (American poet)