My afternoon with the most amazing lady.
I remember the day I applied for my current job, I thought, “I don’t want to work with seniors.” Not because I dislike them. Quite the opposite, actually. I love them. If you’ve been around for any length of time, you know that I was super close with my grandma. It literally broke me when she passed away. I still can’t hear certain songs or smell her perfume… So, to work with people that would remind me of her every day, no thank you.
But we know how that worked out.
So on Friday, I participated in my first community visit. As part of my job, it helps for me to understand how life works in the communities.
It was wonderful.
First, the quality of life these seniors live is awesome. They make aging look pretty great. The tour was great and gave me some idea of what it’s like to live there.
But the real magic happened at happy hour when I met Ms. Kathleen.
She was sitting over on the stairs while the piano player drummed away and serenaded the crowd. The director said she liked to sit there. He told us that she is 94 and was a nurse in WWII and that she was the only one he would get red wine for because she doesn’t spill it. When he walked away, I went over to talk to her.
I introduced myself and sat beside her on the stairs. And that’s where I remained for the next 45 minutes.
Y’all…she was amazing!
I asked her lots of questions. She told me about living at an independent living community. She told me about moving from Atlanta (after more than 20 years there) to Nashville with her daughter and granddaughter.
We talked about her time in the Army. She joined “the real Army. I was an Army nurse. Not a WAC. There’s a difference.” I quickly learned… She joined because, “it was the war and you did what you could to help out.”
She’s always been an independent woman, going to nursing school in the 40s, joining the Army, going overseas, and even now…she’s still driving at 94. She said she never wanted to get married. She told her mom that. She requested to serve in Japan. Where, she adds, “I met the man of my dreams.” And a few months later, they were married. She laughed while telling me this.
She raised five kids and was married for 36 years to her man until Parkinson’s took him.
We talked about a car wreck she had a few weeks ago. She was t-boned, she said. She was making a left at a stoplight. The light turned green and she went through it and the next thing she knew, she woke up in the ER. I asked her if she was going to get another car and she said she wasn’t sure.
“I’m 94, after all.” she said.
It was at that point that we talked about losing independence and how difficult it is. At 94, she’s still as independent as can be.
I could have stayed and talked to her for hours. She was such a breath of fresh air.
They have stories.
The world casts aside seniors and lumps them into “weak and need” categories. Their bodies are frail and they move slower, so we don’t seem to need them as much.
But they have SO many stories. They’ve seen the world change so much and so fast.
They aren’t just seniors. They are stories; stories of a world that has seen great highs and great lows. Their experiences are no different than ours.
Ms. Kathleen has no idea how much I enjoyed our time and how much it impacted me. I will carry it in my heart.
And yes, it made me miss this precious lady so much.