Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Sunshine & joy filled days.
On Sunday I went to see mom, she had become so feeble the last couple of weeks I worry about her. However to my surprise, she has regained her strength back. I found her walking up and down the hallways at a good pace and no walker. When she saw me, she smiled and asked when did I arrive. I walked with her for awhile to encourage her to stay active. Then we sat down in the sitting room.
Mom doesn't talk much anymore so I just sit with her, I know she is more comfortable when I'm around so we usually just sit together. While there I often people watch, I often wonder what sort of lives the other people had. One thing I really notice, of all the residents, there are only about seven men versus about twenty five women. I see the writing on the wall when it comes to the male and female lifespan ratio. I'm also learning that it's about quality of life, not quantity. I used to want to live forever, now I see life can become, almost a punishment, like a sentence. Most of the people there are just existing, everything about them is gone, it's just that the body hasn't died yet.
I was wondering about two of the elderly men this week, one I call "the professor" in my head. To me, he looks like a university professor, I imagine him teaching literature, reading poems etc. Unfortunately his memory is gone and he will most times just sit quiet, staring straight ahead. He speaks both english and french, interesting how the dementia doesn't affect that ability.
There was another man sitting there across the room from us, I don't know him either but I was glad to see he no longer needed an oxygen mask, I always internally cheer on every little victory these elderly people have over their illnesses. I think he must have had a stroke, he is wheelchair bound and can no longer speak. I couldn't help notice how handsome he still is, even in his eighties, there is a boyish charm to him. I was thinking to myself that he must have been one fine looking man when he was younger.
The sitting room faces the afternoon sun, it's a bright cheerful room and many of the elderly people like to relax at the end of the day there. The light seemed to focus on the gentleman across the room and suddenly I could see the young man he once was, it almost shocked me. It suddenly hit me, he is not an "elderly" man, he is a "man" whose body wore out. I suddenly had this image of him, a young man in his twenties with his friends at a beach, his life moments playing out, his first car, his first job and most importantly, his first love. He once joked and laughed and lived a full life until one day, the years added up and now he's here. He is all of us someday and that is frightening to me.
After an hour I was thinking about leaving, the sun was getting ready to set, the light danced through the windows onto everyone. Suddenly the professor became alert and I heard him whisper "sunshine"? Then he said clearly to someone only he could see, "may sunshine and happiness fill all your days ahead, and I will see you again soon". It made me wonder if he was reliving a farewell to family or friends , had someone visited him earlier that day, was this a wish that he often used to make.
I never say goodbye to mom, it upsets her. She will want to leave with me and I don't want to see the look on her face when I say she has to stay, like a child being left behind. I instead make some excuse to get up, basically I lie to her and say I need to use the restroom or check on something. She will say, "ok I'll wait for you here". I know that a few seconds after I'm out of site, she will forget that I was even there. It's something I have to do but it kills me a little each time I do it... because I'm tricking her and taking advantage of her illness.
As I get into my car, I can't help think about what lies ahead for me. I can't help thinking about what has happened to mom, about dad dying on us, about where I am in life. As I sat there, I heard that wish in my head again, "may sunshine and happiness fill all your days ahead". I suddenly felt it was ok to let everything go, no use worrying, I need to focus on the good moments, the bad times will come on their own no matter how much I worry or don't worry. When I came home, I invited a friend over for tea, catch up on local news, show off my garden, simple things but it clears out the mind.