The bus drove through a neighbourhood of small, well tended and obviously well loved, houses. We stopped just outside a house where, when we pulled up, the curtains dropped and activity began. A small, elderly woman with quick movements came out the door and down the stairs. She set the walker she was carrying at right angles to the handrail at the bottom of the stairs. She then went back up.
Out the door came a man, a few years older, holding on to his wife's very strong arm. She guided him to the stairs. He came down sideways, one cautious step after another, holding on to the handrail to keep him upright, to keep him stable. Taking the last step, he reached for his walker, perfectly placed, and they made their way over to the bus.
They greet me when they get on. It's a long ride. They begin to talk in sad voices. Voices that wound around each other, voices that held on tight. They talked about the stairs. They talked about the stairs inside. They talked about the stairs outside. They talked about having to sell. Having to move. He was frightened of the stairs, of falling. She was frightened of his fear.
They'd looked at adaptions. They'd looked at modifications. But they didn't think they would work. They need a place where he no longer lives with fear of falling, and she no longer lives in fear of what falling would mean. "We had our babies in that house," he said. "They will love us no matter where we live," she said. "Yes, they are beautiful children," he said.
"Why don't they build houses for people to grow old in?" he asked her.
"Because we never think we will," she said.
"But the lucky do," he said, and leaned over and kissed her cheek.