Thursday, May 31, 2012

"E" - our honourary senior

All lined up and ready to start the day

As many of you  have probably guessed by now, seniors are an intrinsic part of my world.  Partially because Matriarch Bear is definitely one.  Partially because, while I am still under the magic combined numbers of 6 and 5, I am steadily heading upwards in that direction.

And partially because I have found that seniors, while not perfect and while definitely prone to all the maladies that plague the human race such as being petty or sharp-tongued, are - as a general rule - accepting.

Accepting of the ravages time places on our bodies and minds.  Accepting of people who move slowly, have hearing difficulties and whose memory is somewhere between on the blink and wandering.

The seniors group at our church has become a wonderful support group for me.  Always encouraging.  Always welcoming.  Accepting of my altered abilities as they're coping with their own.

But today, I don't want to talk about me.  I want to talk about "E" - an honourary member of our group.  Membership, if there is such a thing, starts officially at 55, but "E" is nowhere near those magic numbers. She is a housewife and mother, probably in her late 30's or early 40's, with two growing boys.  She is still in the chauffeur stage of life - chauffeuring her boys to their activities.  Immersed in her home life.  Dedicated to her family.

So how did "E" become part of our group?  What in the wide world is someone whose hair is still the colour it was at birth (without supernatural aid) doing in our group?

Boarding and getting settled for our annual outing

Several years ago, her husband's elderly grandmother who is dealing with one of those dreaded debilitating, neurological dementias moved into a nursing home in our area.  Yes, you read me right.  Not her mother.  Not even her grandmother.  But her husband's grandmother.

Rubber necking while the guide points out various places of interest

"E" has taken on the responsibility of providing outside encounters, socialization for her husband's grandmother.  I've watched her faithfully bring grandma to the weekly women's meetings and the monthly senior's meetings.  Tenderly watching over grandma, ensuring her comfort.  Helping her walk to a chair.  Bringing her refreshments. Always putting grandma's needs first.  I've watched as other members solicitously pull out a chair or make room for "E" and grandma.  As "E" heads to the lunch line at the seniors' meetings bringing back one plate for grandma and later returning for her own.  Always putting grandma's needs first.

Inside the bus - original German church 

I've watched as the seniors held up the bus for the Shunpiking tour for "E" and grandma.  As younger seniors moved out of seats close to the front for "E" and grandma.  As "E" made sure grandma had the window seat.  I watched "E" with her face shining, alert, taking in our trip and enjoying it to the fullest.  I watched as "E" settled grandma into a cozy table for two at the lunch break, left for a bit and came back with a plate of lunch for grandma.  I watched as others in the group came by one or two at a time to say hello to "E" and grandma.  I watched as "E" tenderly guided grandma back to the coach after the lunchbreak and settled her back into the window seat.  I watched as at the end, "E" was trying to gently guide grandma out of the seat and off the bus pressed now by time constraints.  Her re-entry back into the world of being a full-time mother and commitments urging her to hurry.  Get off the bus.  Get grandma back to her nursing home.  Get the children to piano lessons.  Sandwiched between generations.  Striving for a workable balance.  To be able to meet both sets of needs in the same person at the same time.

Inside the bus - taking in the cemetery beside the old German church

An impossible task.  Yet one which "E" works towards daily in her life.  In her journey.

An inspiration.

My inspiration.

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