StoryADay May 14
Louise closed the door of her apartment for the last time. She swallowed the lump of sadness that was resting in her throat. It was time to move on. She knew she was doing the right thing; everyone had told her this. Living alone was getting harder and more dangerous every day. She'd had three falls in the past month, each one requiring the paramedics to come and help her up. It was embarassing to say the least. Her children were worried about her. So Louise had sold most of her belongings, given the important things to her children, found a new home for her cat, and prepared to move in to an assisted living residence.
"Mom, are you ready? It's time to go." her son, Richard said gently, taking her arm.
"As ready I will ever be I suppose" she tried to sound cheerful and positive, but knew it was not working. It was not in her nature at the best of times. And this was not the best of times.
They pulled up to the door of the residence, ironically named "Fountain of Youth". Their motto was making seniors feel like they will live forever. Louise couldn't conceive of living forever. She had been ready to go for a long time now. Her usefulness on this earth was over, she was just baggage, a waste of space, being warehoused for the convenience of her family. Well, she was here now. But that didn't mean she would have to like it.
A few hours later everything was in her room and it was all set up. Louise had to admit it was quite cozy. And the "home" as she called it was quite welcoming. She had come in the door to the smell of cookies baking. She had expected it to smell like a hospital...or worse. There was a cat in the foyer that came to greet her. It made her miss her own cat more, but it was still a nice touch. Birdsong came from the common room and she looked inside and saw a cage with a bright blue budgie in it. Nice.
"So mom, we are going to go and let you get settled in " Richard said. Her daughter Leanne was there too and she looked guilty about leaving her.
"We can stay a little longer...if you want," she said, though Louise knew she didn't really want to.
"No no, I'm fine. Don't worry about me, I'll be fine on my ice floe" and she laughed. Her children didn't find her joke funny at all but Louise did. She had told her children that the Eskimo's put their elderly on an ice floe and pushed them out to sea to die.
It was time for dinner. Louise did not want to go down to the dining room. It would be full of old people. But there was no stove or microwave in her room for to her cook so if she didn't want to starve, she would have to go.
When she went in to the dining room she saw that it was indeed crowded with old people. She took a big sigh. Well you are an old person, so deal with it, she told herself and she went in. The attendant showed her to her table and introduced her to her table mates. Rita, who was 98 and sharp as a tack, though she was confined to a wheelchair. Barb who was 87 and looked about as happy to be there was Louise. And Becky who was a tiny little thing, lively and quick and who said "if I tell you how old I am, I will have to kill you" and cackled gaily at her own joke. Louise thought she would find Becky terribly annoying.
She sat down and waited for her dinner. When it came, she was surprised that it smelled and tasted delicious. And the conversation of her tablemates was anything but boring. Lots of joking and teasing and gossip. Louise found herself enjoying the dinner time. No talking about their ailments, or moaning about being in "the home". Becky told her all about the activities that took place daily and encouraged Louise to take part in them.
"Don't hide out in your room" Rita said, "You'll die sooner! You have to keep active and be social, that's the secret to dealing with our situation. Right, Becky?"
"That and a little flirtation now and again," said Becky, laughing at herself again.
Barb said very little. Louise watched her and her other new friends. And it occured to her that she had a choice. She could be a Barb and be miserable and not fun to be around. Or she could be a Becky and make the best of it. Well, maybe not a Becky, but at least a Rita. It was all about attitude. As bad as she wanted to feel sorry for herself and wallow in self-pity she decided she would try to make the best of it.
A week went by and Louise settled in to the routine of the residence. She had joined in as many activities as were available and to her surprise she found herself actually feeling happy. She had made friends and she was busy. When Richard or Leanne called her she had stories to tell rather than complaints to make. And she found they called more often.
Every night when she went to bed, she looked forward to the next day. It wasn't all good certainly. There are always problems when people live together. But Louise took them in stride and tried to focus on the good. And it was mostly good.