Well, I have been helping Grandma move into a retirement community.... which has also meant I have been staying IN her small apartment with no actual walls between us, and hanging out in the community center during the day with her and her peeps. Today is day 6 of living with the old people. I will try and hit the highlights.
1. Dinner is at 4:30pm every night. Yes. Four-thirty in the afternoon. And, as expected, dinner is a greatly anticipated and much discussed event.
2. Yesterday, I realized that the irritating noise I was hearing in the dining room was feedback from my neighbors hearing aid. No one else heard it.
3. I have been mistaken for both 22 and 59 years old. I am not sure what to make of that.
4. I am now embarrassed by flatulence. No, not my own... but I won't name any names. Further, I am filled with the dread of knowing how audible it may/will become with age. On the other hand, I am comforted by the thought that my hearing may be so poor by then, I won't realize how loud the passing of the gas has become.... or at least that is what I will claim.
5. Today I played Bingo.... and felt like the cutest thing in the room.
6. These old ladies are naughty. Delightfully, naughty! I pretend to be shocked.
7. They are all in awe of my computer savvy... this is also why it has taken 5 days to get access to the internet without having to sit outside a Starbucks.
8. There are 3 men and 29 women in our dining room, not surprisingly they are doted on unabashedly by the other residents. These men are also repositories for unwanted pie and cake.
And for the serious stuff.
1. This place is fantastic. I was terrified it would be filled with people waiting to pass away. But I find myself in awe of the vitality here. Everyone here is here to prolong their independence and live the rest of their lives to the fullest. There is more smiling, teasing, laughter, cooperation, wittiness, and camaraderie than I could have ever guessed. And on top of that, every staff person I have met has been gracious, kind and respectful. Experiencing it for this last week has taken a load off my heart.
2. Growing old is not for the fainthearted. Happiness in the face of constant adaptation, loss, and physical setbacks, all the residents here have mastered it. I look into faces which have seen 2 to 2.5 times my lifetime (yes, I have met some centenarians) and realize for all my learnin', I don't know much.
3. A little kindness goes a long way. Really. I have been on both ends of this during the week and cannot express how profound a small gesture can be.
Shit! Its nearly dinner time... I have to go put my earrings on. I think they are seating me at Bill's table tonight and you know, he used to work at Boeing!