At one point during his life way back when, he probably enjoyed playing golf – a lot of golf. He was in a red cardigan sweater – you’ve probably seen the kind – the kind that Arnold Palmer wore back in his day. But today, this kindly-looking gentleman was wheeling himself down the corridor at a long term skilled nursing facility. As I passed him in route to visit my dad, he gave me a “thumb’s up”, probably just as he did on the golf course after a playing partner hit a good shot. Still positive, still smiling, still managing.
The elderly woman was a tad upset that we were sitting at “her” table in the dining room at lunchtime. She thought it was “unfair” that her table wasn’t available for her. She had come dressed for the occasion. Flower in her hair, make-up gloriously in place, elegant dress on – she was waiting for her daughter to show up to have lunch with her this Saturday. Since we had sat down with Dad for lunch and were done, we told the angels who work at these places that we were finished and she could have her table. Later as I passed by the dining room, she looked blessedly content sitting at her table. It’s the little things, you know!
For the most part, every senior citizen in this facility makes the effort. The effort to get dressed in the morning, to make themselves presentable – to put their best “faces” on – no matter their debilitating diseases, their ailments, their shaky memories, their quivering hands, arms and legs. For most, just this simple act of getting dressed and presenting themselves in an acceptable manner in their mind’s eye, takes a monumental effort. But each day, they manage (with the help of nursing angels) – quite splendidly.
For my Dad, who has advanced Parkinson’s, along with Lewy Body Dementia and an inoperable brain tumor – each day is a struggle just to get dressed. But he still insists he be dressed. He’s not going anywhere except to the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner and maybe out in the courtyard, as is the daily journey’s for most in this long term skilled nursing facility.
If one takes just a few moments to observe, all these senior citizens in these facilities have memories they are clinging to, as we all do. Where those of us who have not arrived at their age, nor have to deal with crippling diseases – we still have the hope of some sort of future where we might be disease or pain-free – they don’t.
Next time you happen upon one of these courageous souls, please give them a smile and a tip of the hat…and remember – you still have days ahead of you where you can add to the memories of those loved ones in your life today. It’s your kindness, your love, your smile, your generosity, your way…or as Mr. Sinatra would say…the way you look tonight, that can provide the glow of “just thinking of you”, a comforting and wonderful feeling during the last days and weeks of their lives.
Frank Sinatra – “The Way You Look Tonight” (Original)
Photo credit (front page): http://www.unsplash.com/@jaketthacker
Photo credit: http://www.unsplash.com/@jmason
Photo credit: By New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Fisher, Alan, photographer. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons