Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The Lucky Do

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.


wendy said...

So hard. My mother is 91 and she refuses to move from her home. Rather than the house being adapted, she has adapted to using less and less of it.

Ron Arnold said...

I really liked her answer to his question about building houses. It's not "they" but it most certainly is "we."

Life is an interesting imbalance of foresight, hindsight, and insight into the moments we exist in. I also think if life had an official flavor, it'd be bittersweet.

I hope they find their bliss in whatever 'new' place they find. sounds to me as though their attachments are certainly in the right place - so their bliss should certainly live wherever they go.

Glad you caught that moment and shared it so eloquently Dave. Thank you!

Kasie said...

So beautifully spoken, Dave.

Maggie said...

Another good reason for 'universal design.' If their forever-house had been built originally with one roll-in entrance to the main level, and one organically integrated bedroom on the main level, they would be able to stay, with minimal disruption.

I totally appreciate adapting to using less and less of it, rather than moving. In every move I've made (including while young and energetic), something I loved has been lost or broken; something with two parts has been separated into different boxes. As I get older, I find it more difficult to adapt to a new layout in the dark.

Aging in place would be so much easier if the building codes offered a bit more foresight.