Friday, May 28, 2010

A Quiet Tribute

It is a quiet day at the office today.

Actually, it’s a quiet day in the whole building. Not that it’s always a rip roaring party all the time, but there is usually a sense of relief and a certain giddiness in the office the day after our annual OHFA inspection goes well and the residents are usually roaming around on Fridays, chatting, coming and going in preparation for the weekend, getting their hair done at the beauty shop next to the office. The smell of perms is normally pervasive. Not so much today.

Today, or at least this morning, it is quiet.

You see … there’s a funeral being held at the church next door this morning.

A funeral for a resident who passed away in the wee hours of Wednesday morning or, as her son so eloquently put it ... “One moment she was sleeping peacefully, the next moment she went Home.”

It’s easy to think of her there … in heaven … her jubilation in being reunited with her husband who had gone to wait for her 20 years ago, in the presence of her dear Lord.

For the purposes of this little blog … we’ll call her Mrs. W.

Mrs. W. would have been the first to tell you she was just a country gal. She was 98 years old and, although in recent years her sight had failed and, even more recently, her health had slipped, through the assistance of a large and loving family, she had remained independent in the little apartment in our building she had called home the last 16 years. She loved the life of a resident and embraced the activities with enthusiasm. She never failed, unless sick, to be right in the front row when the 1st & 2nd graders from the school across the street came to give our residents a Christmas concert. She enjoyed the community feeling of the potluck dinners, baking cornbread for her friends, and going up to do exercises with the group that gathered three times a week. She thrilled each spring when the “4 O’Clocks” would bloom outside the exit door by her apartment. (I don’t know the actual name of this bush of flowers. Mrs. W. called them 4 O’Clocks and that is good enough for me.)

One of the ten remaining residents that were here when I began working at the Village, Mrs. W. would walk the halls of our building with a cheerful smile and a greeting for any that she met. When asked how she was doing, her standard response was that she was doing okay … “until someone tells me different”. Respectful of the office and the work being done, she would always have a smile and greeting, yet never stayed to chat unless one of us initiated the conversation. Even when her sight had failed, she would always smile and wave as she passed by … never certain anyone was in the office to see, but not wanting to pass by and seem rude.

As memory and hearing also began to fail, she began to stop a bit more frequently by the window … inquiring as to the day of the week and if there were any activities on the calendar. After getting a response, she would give thanks for the information with a big smile and exclaim that waking up always seemed to bring a new and different day. A happy smile, a boisterous laugh, and a wicked sense of humor … three things I admire and she had them in spades.

Mrs. W. was a simple, gracious lady who’s favorite activities included feeding people and sharing stories of her three children or multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Nothing delighted her more than when one or more of them would stop by for a visit with “mom” or “granny”. She took great pride in them and their accomplishments but was never boastful.

It’s difficult to think that she is gone. Her little corner apartment where, before her sight left and cooking became difficult, the staff had been invited several times to share a tasty lunch and lively conversation, will soon be rented to someone new … someone different … someone who won’t call me “Shug” and check on the 4 O’Clocks in the spring. That’s the hard part.

The easy part is imagining her in heaven … setting a table for family and friends and inviting them to come and eat before it gets cold, as she keeps an eye from above on those kids and grandkids and great-grandkids, not to mention the rest of us.

Yep. It’s a quiet morning today. The halls are silent and the conversations are muted but I’m doing okay … at least until someone tells me different.