The Forgotten Generation
By: Ginnylynn Rodriguez
As I struggled through the doors at the Retirement Center,
weighted down with my mom's overnight bags as well as my
own, my first sight was several ladies sitting on the couch in
the entry as if waiting for some event to be happening soon.
I've always enjoyed this center when I've visited it the few
times before. It's rooms are full of light and very open in its design.
Setting my bags down, I went in to see the manager. Pulling
his bifocals off his face he greeted me warmly. After explaining
who I was and my mom's name, he said, "Oh, we've been
expecting you!" He reached up and grabbed the guestroom
key and handed it to me. I had called in ahead of time earlier
in the week for a "test run" for my mom and I to stay overnight
in their guestroom. Mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's
earlier in the year and my family has been trying to determine
where the best place for her to live. We felt their program of
allowing visitors to stay a few nights at their facility would offer
her the opportunity to see its setting in a relaxed manner. It also
gave us the opportunity to observe others there and get their
feedback on the care they are receiving. Mom's home of 40
years no longer interests her and she's fearful of staying by
herself. We have narrowed our search to two centers, as well
as the possibility of her living with my older sister and her
husband. In her condition, we don't know whether she could
handle independent living.
In her red knitted cap and red jacket she looked cute even
though her confusion on her face was apparent. As a lost
child she obediently followed me up the elevator into our
room. After I put our belongings away, I was impressed with
the decor. Beautiful homemade accessories graced the
room to give it a homey touch. It was actually much nicer
than the motels I've stayed in the past! The entire center
looked like a museum with its Norman Rockwell's pictures,
crystal and porcelain figurines and fancy furniture. Slowly we
walked the hallways to introduce ourselves to the residents
and see where everything was located.
Upstairs, sitting at a table, were four people playing cards. By
the looks on their faces, you knew without a doubt, they were
serious card players, yet everyone was quick to be friendly to
us. One gentleman was nice and had a quick sense of humor
and a very old lady sat next to him. Mrs. J had a bright gleam
in her eye as she played her cards. Looking at her hands, I knew
she had to be VERY old yet her mannerisms and behavior didn't
reflect such a thing. I learned later she was 91. She is a godly
woman who is quick to hug and spread her love to everyone
who would receive it. She invited us to look at her room and we
sat and chatted with her for about 30 minutes. She showed us
some of the 30 cross-stitch quilts she had done. She was
extremely proud of them. She says she stays active when
she is in her room which was not too often. She showed us
her lamp that was 200 years old that was gorgeous!
Mom wanted to meet with a friend she knew from her church
so we looked up her room number and we paid her a visit.
During our stay, her insight and information regarding the center
was very valuable and she invited us to dinner in the dining hall.
She was quick to explain the routines there and we were very
grateful. "Now, if you lay your coffee cup on its side, " she said,
"it means that you want tea. BUT ... if you turn it right side
up-then you want coffee. They only serve it three times during
the meal, so be sure you drink it slowly!" I'm thinking to
myself -- I need to take notes to get all these details straight
in my head! She says, "When you are through with your
dishes, lay them on your left side so the servers can remove
them." During dessert time, my mom starts grabbing off the
food cart. Mom's friend quickly states, "Oh, we don't do that!
The servers need to do it." Mom had quickly grabbed several
desserts which turned out to be for the diabetic residents.
As I sat in the dining room, I thought of the accumulated
amount of wisdom in all the ages represented there. I envisioned
the wonderful stories with each person that needed to be
told to enrich the next generation. I don't want our elderly
forgotten and overlooked. They've invested their lives in
so many different ways. Each one of them is like a book
ready to reveal a tremendous story.
After dinner, a Brownie troop of 2nd graders entertained
20 of us with singing and sign language. I saw the twinkle
in their eyes and smiles on the girls faces and it certainly
blessed me as they went through their routine. At the end
of the program, they handed out carnations to everyone.
Later in the evening, we watched 8 ladies rehearsing their
program with the chimes. The blending of the sounds was heavenly!
Behind the doors of many Retirement homes are people
that many others forget. In our rush of daily life, we pass
them without a thought. The truth is that there lies a treasure
waiting to be exposed. If we take the time to spend a little
time with them we would be amazed in what we discover.
I'm very thankful I was given an opportunity to spend time
with them and their lives have certainly enriched mine. Their
unconditional warmth was given to my mother and myself
and will be a memory I'll certainly treasure.
With the day behind us, we retired for the night. I was
amazed at the humor, friendliness and helpfulness we
received from people who had been strangers to us. They
embraced us and made us feel welcome. I KNOW I'm getting
old when I have a great time at a retirement center! If the day
comes that I need a place to live, I know their facility would
welcome me. I just pray it won't be too soon!
Write Ginnylynn and let her know what you thought of her story!
Ginnylynn lives in Allen, Texas with her husband of 28 years. She enjoys
writing short stories, poetry and reading. She and her husband are seen
quite frequently cruisin' in his '57 Chevy.
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