Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Another Day as a very young "Senior"

After a brief hiatus, I return to this blog.  While visiting the seniors' residence, besides having a riot talking with the residents and enjoying life, I was coping with some of the disabilities - or rather altered abilities - coming from the past severely stressful situation, i.e. weakness so bad that at times I could not sit up, fatigue, inability to process thoughts and speak correctly, trembling, memory loss.  In short, I basically fit in with the group.

I ask your forgiveness and patience on the days when I am too weak to blog and thank each and every one of you who accesses my blog.  Newcomers always welcome!

Back to the regularly scheduled blog:

Kincardine ON Lighthouse
on the "painters" wall
by Matriarch Bear

OK.  OK.  The word "young" is relative in this case.  A perception.  An assumption on my part.  Or maybe just an opinion.  Does it matter?  I think not.  What is important is the experience.  The bonding - first and most importantly - with Matriarch Bear but also with the staff and the other residents.

The Erie Canal
taken from the bridge on the Main Street of Fairport NY
Life.  Living life to the fullest.  Even with constraints.  For the seniors I'm living with it means living with what I call "altered abilities" rather than disabilities.  Loss of hearing.  Mobility.  Macular degeneration.   Memory loss.  And other various and sundry physical maladies differing according to the resident involved.


It means doctor's appointments on a regular basis, walkers, hearing aids, and, in Matriarch Bear's case, oxygen almost 100% of the time.

It also means living with loss of independence.  Moving to a more structured environment.  Becoming more dependent on their families and staff.
The dining room between meals
Yet, what I see in the residence and its residents resonates of life.  Life being lived as fully as possible.  The ability to smile, to laugh.  Yes, I freely admit that while I don't understand the phenomenon, laughter and smiles seem to follow me wherever I go - including the seniors' residence.  The sharing of memories.  And yes, the caring.  Now I also freely admit that some of the residents are more caring then others but all in all it's a riot to watch them interacting with each other at meal times.  Because people are people and the things that have been there all the time get magnified as they age, there are also petty rivalries, gossip, etc.  And, of course, with over 90 residents, there can be at any given time just about as many opinions on any given matter.  Which makes life in a seniors' residence all that more interesting.
ground floor view of the back garden
So this particular day began, for me, in a relaxed, lazy way.  Breakfast is at 8 a.m.  However, since morning is Matriarch Bear's worst time of the day, we no longer go down to the dining room but rather slowly wake up.  Take it easy.  Smell the coffee?  Heck, no!  We sleep in.  Forget the coffee.

An early riser, I wake up first and fortify myself with the first of several cups of fully caffeinated coffee.  Then I make the Matriarch Bear her first cuppa tea for the day and bring it into her bedroom.  With this, our "daily" ritual begins - of me trying to wake her up and her ignoring me.  This goes on as long as I let it.  Eventually, she accedes to my wishes and demands, and gets up.  I lay out her clothes.  Matriarch Bear is fully capable of dressing herself.  Make no mistake about that.  However, she's just as happy to wear the same outfit as many days as she can get away with.  Now with a closet full of nice clothes which both her daughters and granddaughters have accumulated for it, it seems like a sin not to wear them, so I lay them out for her.
An expanded view of the back garden
Next, I fix her some breakfast and reheat up her (by now cold) tea.  We have a lazy morning.  Usually I try to head into the village of Fairport to find a WiFi connection remembering that I HAVE to be back by noon for the midday meal.  As an active, "young" (the words "young" and "old" are relative when you're living with seniors, i.e. 60 is young, 97 is old, which means that the 80's fall somewhere in the middle, I guess), I find this schedule constricting.  On my own, I would forage for myself but I'm not on my own this week.  The purpose is to be with Matriarch Bear and bond with her.  For that, meal time is ideal.  And, by the way, the meals are tasty with a qualified cook on site.  Since the noon meal is the main meal of the day, I do not want to miss this event.  Late is one thing.  Missing it entirely is quite another.

The gazebo
Notice the comfortable chairs
I enjoy my walk to the village with the exception of The Hill.  Turn left out the driveway and that is the first thing confronting a pedestrian such as myself.  Speaking of The Hill, now that Matriarch Bear has so much trouble breathing caused by overtaxing her heart, when we take her out we use a wheelchair - which means it's "payback" time for her now grown-up cubs.  And do we have fun threatening in jest to take our hands off the handles at the top and let 'er fly!  Our imaginations may run wild, but our hands and sensibilities do not as we keep the wheelchair in control at all times.

On my walks, I found WiFi connections in the village.  I've never envisioned myself as one who would sit at the table with my designer coffee, laptop powered up.  I always thought these were important, business people.  High fivers (is that a real term?)  I feel that I am right up there with the power people.  Possessor of my own laptop.  And hey!  I'm even able to use it!  Bonus!

The entrance to the residence

Today, since the physical weakness I cope with on a daily basis is kicking in again, I will leave you here.  Approaching the entrance of the residence from my walk.  Moving briskly because I'm late.  Lunch has started.  Matriarch Bear is at her table probably worrying about where her cub is.

Life is good.


















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