Thursday, 18 October 2012

An Unexpected Reality

Today was a rather difficult and emotional visit with a special 84 year old man named Dan, who a day earlier, had a catastrophic fall. Rather independent, he hadn't informed his wife or children where he was going when he set out to photograph an old buried ship on the outskirts of town. There was a section of rock that he had to traverse in order to reach the boat, and as he negotiated the steep decline, he fell forward, face first unto the rocks. Collecting as best he could his broken, bleeding, and battered body, he managed his way to the top of the hill, and drove himself to the nearest clinic. Once in the parking lot, Dan realised he could no longer move and was swallowing a great deal of blood. Several nurses ran out to his car, ordered he not move, and an ambulance was summoned. Dan's face was so badly swollen and bloodied that they assumed he had been attacked. When asked who they could call for him, without a second thought Dan spoke, '' Whatever you do, don't call my wife, she'll have a heart attack.'' They called one of his 4 sons, who managed to get Dan's wife of 61 years, quickly to the hospital. Marilyn was not prepared for what she saw. The familiar face that looked back at her for over 60 decades, was barely recognisable, and she began to cry. Dan had a broken cheek, nose, nasal passage, cut and swollen eye, a multitude of scrapes and bruises, and a torn rotators' cuff to his right arm. All Marilyn could think of was what if he hadn't been able to get back up those rocks, her husband might never have been found in time, or found at all. Dan had loss so much blood that he required blood transfusions, but they found his kidneys were compromised, and he would need dialysis. Dan became frantic with the thought of being immobilised hours a day watching his blood filter through tubes. His oldest daughter, a nurse, convinced him it had to be done as her father was experiencing chest pains. About this time, I had arrived, and entering Dan's hospital room, it was not the sight of his badly bruised body that caught me off guard, but that of his fragile, beaten and defenceless spirit seemingly exposed for all to see. He was restless, and nothing like the strong man I had known for so long. I realised how vulnerable seniors become when their independence is replaced with falls, fears, and fragility. Walking toward Dan's bed, I desperately tried to negotiate my tears stay hidden, but that was not to be. He took my hands, held them tightly, thanked me for coming, and as I reached toward him, he hugged me, and whispered the words' I love you'. Tears streamed off my cheeks unto his, and for the first time in my 57 years did I see a frail spirit betrayed by the years, at one time a strong man, now desperately wanting time to stand still before it robbed him of his pride, his faith, his family, his life. Many seniors have graced my life, but Dan's journey leaves a much more indelible mark with me. To witness anybody in such poignant heartache is trying, but to witness father, assailed by time and unforgiving circumstance was never foreseen.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Thank you God for Marie...

Seniors too often are left alone by their families, their friends have passed on, and much too many are ignored, forgotten, and deemed insignificant. I had the great priviledge of meeting a most beautiful and intellectual 83 year old lady named Marie. A former Windsor nurse, born and raised in Quebec, Marie is worldly, wise and yet alone. To see her, you sense a physical beauty of days gone-by, now nicely manicured into a rather classic, refined vintaged grace.She wishes her hair color maintained in a brown hue, but underneath lies white sheemered locks that provide an elegance suited to her. Her smile radiates through the bluest aquamarine eyes, eyes that at times depict a sadness hovering beneath the twinkle. A familiar sadness that I have witnessed in every senior encountered, as if it naturally follows with old age. I feel a bit of this meloncholy even at 57, having felt wanted and useful when I was a teacher and mother of a baby boy. At times I wonder if I'm even remembered for the role I've played in this world. To be 83, no longer a nurse, a wife or mother, Marie's sorrow stems from the same branch as mine, wondering what will become of us if we no longer hold a role or function in this world. I suppose like most women, we underestimate our beauty, our potential, our purpose, which so blatantly contradicts how others see us.
Marie was no doubt the nurse that went the extra mile, cared beyond the call of duty, intervened at injustice, and shared her gentle gift of compassion more vehemently with the undesirables.
We have spent quite a few hours over the last few months exchanging stories and memories.Marie is healthy, strong, eats well, holds faith above all else, yet chooses to be alone as so many do. Her story is rich in love, hardship, and wisdom. If only I had time at my disposal, her and I could become long lasting friends. I think of Marie everyday, dismayed that the world doesn't see her. Oh what a story teller, a gifted intellectual, a woman of profound faith, a devout caregiver, a witty, vibrant, intropective human being.
I unexpectedly stopped by to say hello one day, and as I walked up her driveway, over the waist high brick column I could see she faced away, her floppy hat shielding her from the heat of day. So many questions attacked my senses. Was she lonely? Why is no one venturing to her door? What is she thinking about? How does she feel? She needs a pet, a friend, family close by. Is she afraid being alone? She should never be alone. She has so much to offer. I will be a friend. How can one not be, once you've met her?
I was so happy to see her, and she felt the same. Could I be so lucky to have Marie in my life corner? The good Lord has graced by life with such rich blessings, and even now in retirement, He continues to look out for me. When I was a little girl, I seemed to forever gravitate toward the elderly in the neighborhood. For some reason, they embraced me as their own and it made me feel so loved, and in turn, I loved them. Today, as my life becomes full circle, it is still the old soul that I gravitate toward, and they toward me. I am comforted, valued and cherished by the Maries' of this world, and I hope they know the immense gratitude I feel...and the mutual adoration I have for them.

A new friendship for Pat and Catherine...

Since July 12, Catherine had fallen three times and subsequently landed a fractured sacrum, and a hairline crack to her hip. I found Catherine sitting in her chair awaiting my arrival. She could not move without experiencing excruciating pain. I thought it best she call her son while the ambulance took her to the hospital. Being very proud, Catherine insisted that her family not be informed. I sat in the emergency area with my old friend for more than 3 hours before a nurse could look in on her. Finally moved to triage, we waited another hour before a series of tests, x-rays, and scans could tell the damage ensued from her falls. I was heading out of town the following morning, and regrettably could not be with Catherine much longer, so once she was issued a room and comfortably sedated, 8 hours had passed, I bid sweet Catherine goodbye. I made the decision to call her son Paul, as I could not imagine Catherine lying alone in a strange hospital. No matter how proud or private she may be, she was someone's mother and deserved her children by her side. When I returned from the weekend, I would find Catherine lying alone and scared to death. There was immense sadness in her eyes, and a hopeless sense about her, believing this was her final curtain call. Of course, I had other plans for her. Visiting every day for 9 days, caring for this old gal seemed as though I was caring for my own mother, and couldn't imagine it any other way. Finally Catherine was discharged and moved to a respite care floor in the building she was living in. Convincing her to be hopeful was a rather difficult task, especially with the amount of pain she was living with. As time went on, I'd take Catherine for short visits up to her own suite, where we watered the plants, checked the mail and collected the newspapers. Eventually Catherine was allowed home, and much preparation had to be done to accommodate her fragile frame, and her weak sense of confidence. She unreasonably feared that her family would find her unfit, place her away somewhere where she would be robbed of the little bit of independence she had left. On the contrary, her sons managed to look in on her, which made all the difference in her recovery.
It was time for Catherine to meet other women her age. I planned a simple old fashioned lunch at our cottage on the lake, invited my dear friend Pat, while my endearing husband Thomas tagged along, as Catherine was quite smitten by his Italian charm! We laughed, opened gifts of friendship, ate a whole lot, and waterlogged ourselves on tea and lemon. Catherine and Pat were very much alike, both being over 75, and shared a great deal in common. Both had lost a sister, Pat's sister was murdered at 33, and Catherine's sister died of a brain tumor at 34, both leaving behind small children and a lingering sorrow shared. Within minutes they had become fast friends.Thomas made the girls giggle with his wit and jokes, and I had the pleasure and honour to dote on these remarkably courageous and classy women for the afternoon.
There is something fascinating happening in this little piece of universe surrounding my precious senior friends.. .something much bigger than us, much wiser, more powerful, that positions each of us alongside the other with an abundance of love. A love that will convince Catherine she has a long way before her days are done here, and that she deserves the attention of her family and friends.
Not that a higher power encouraged her falls, but without doubt made way for many to carry her through her healing, and convince those like Pat, Tom and I that we need a Catherine in our lives.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Elizabeth turns 90....

I phoned Elizabeth days before her 90th birthday, checking in to see what plans she had for the big day. Barely audible, speaking through the tears, Liz is so distressed by the latest health issues that she suggests it's her time to move on past this world, sharing her feelings of loneliness and sadness. Her fun loving demeanor has been replaced with a sense of hopelessness. ''You must hang on, Liz'', I beg. I' intend on celebrating the day with you sweetie! What will I do with the presents I have for you?'' With a valour attempt at optimism, Liz accepts my offer. ''I'll see you in 4 days, Elizabeth...just 4 days, ok?''
I knock lightly on Elizabeth's door that is partially open, and there she sits, in her blue tattered robe, her satin soft white hair without the fluff  of a shampoo. A familiar smile dances across her worn beautiful face as we hug longer than usual. ''Happy Birthday missy!'' It's my birthday?'', she questions. I must hide my feelings of sadness that Liz doesn't remember what the day means. ''Not only is it your birthday, you are a fabulous 90 years old today!'' Sitting beside her, I offer the gifts I've brought for her. A bottle of German wine, a handmade note and roses. She begins to cry, and so do I. I hold her tight, offer to brush her hair, and open the bottle, to which she approves with a nod. She wanted us to sit on the balcony where we usually converse, but it was too hot for both of us. I wished there was more time to spend with her, but I was on a tight time frame today.''Can you come tomorrow. I wait for you everyday'', she shares. I wish I could take her home with me.....

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Hard letting go......

It has been quite awhile since the last blog, mostly due to the enormous business load I've encountered since my business opened in November. So many seniors without advocates, without the proper care, and many without the will to live once they are placed in unfamiliar homes/facilities.
My eyes of 57 years have seen the elderly of Essex County in a new and at times, disturbing light, mainly the level of care provided, the future they see before them, and the overwhelming need for affection and attention.
As time passes us by, no matter how special, or important, or unique we might think we are, the final chapter of a senior's life remains the same for all of us.
As much as there are a great many seniors who are making the most of their lives in Retirement Communities, the majority are lonely, neglected by family, non-trusting, and without purpose. While living within the latte and  cool blue walls of these immensely beautiful 'state of the art' buildings,amenities galore and gold encrusted fixtures, lies the withered aged spirits of men and women who long ago, made their youthful and gifted mark on the world, yet feel as though they are but burdens and inconveniences to family and society. Much of their independance gone, they now must rely on group buses, annoyed adult children, taxis and business caregivers to assist with travels and appointments. I encounter discouraged, tired and cynical babyboomer adult children who desperately need a forum to discuss their aging parents and the toll it's taking on the families, their health and their spirits.Countless seniors exhausted by endless doctor appointments, falls, monetary worries, restricted freedoms, loneliness and diminished health. Yet, it takes but a warm hello, a smile, a touch, or a word of affection to initiate the most precious of lost smiles in the elderly.
My very first client, Miss Catherine 77, has become a lifelong friend and mentor; Elizabeth, 90, a walking scholar on being raised in Germany as a poor little girl; Marie 83, a retired and compassionate nurse in Quebec who continues to heal the sick with words of kindness; Ted and Joan married 67 years, lost a child at 45 and their loyal beloved pet dog Buddie, still holding hands and making suggestive advances at one another in a world where devoted long-lasting love eludes so many; Rose 85, who gave everything to her children and now lies alone in a longterm care facility, no longer the spirited jovial gal, battling a bone infection.....her sons out of sight; Clarence 97, who mourns his beloved Betty who recently died, a real gentle man who taught me the 2 step in 40 minutes; and the many others who have no idea how important they truly are to young kids like me.
There remains a sadness in me, wishing I could have known them in their youth, wanting them to stay around a little longer while I travel through my senior years. The profound sorrow that surrounds me really has it's roots in the knowledge that they will not be here much longer for me to love, and to feel the love they provide me. This raw reality has me questioning where I go from here.......

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Oranges, treebuds and laughter!

Even though my work with Elizabeth has ended, periodically I pop in to see how she is doing. I found her sitting on her new balcony, the straw hat I bought for her balancing on the back of her head, and her feet propped up on a stool! It was wonderful to see her so content having recently moved to an assisted floor. Intending on perhaps a half hour visit turned into a two hour one, as she spoke of her life with her Ted, the love of her life for 45 years.She shared how he was too kind for this world, where others took advantage of him, to which retribution was never a thought... let alone an option. Tears surfaced when she spoke of the stomach ulcer that eventually became cancer and took her husband's life in 1976. Elizabeth has been on her own since that year, with no children. She asked if I could move a table to the balcony, teach her to work the digital tv, and look in to see if the riser for the toilet was worth the $66.00 she spent, to which I reassured her was a deal! In the 10 minutes it took to do these small tasks, the kindness shown behind the gestures will last so much longer for Elizabeth, knowing she is cared about, and worthy of such attention. While we munched on oranges, there's a budding tree that extends over the balcony railing, and Elizabeth joked that hopefully it will be an apple tree that provides free produce for her!! At 89, she remains someone to reckon with if one thinks for one second that she is stupid. She taps her index finger to her temple and quips,'' I may be OLD but STUPID I am not!'' I second that notion!

Her first hamburger in 30 years!

The flu outbreak is lifted where Catherine lives, so today we were back on track having been apart for 2 weeks. It's now time to decorate Catherine's suite that had been put off, and now her son is to visit at Easter,a refreshing excitement at presenting her new home has taken over! We hopped in the car and travelled 2 minutes away to the neatest cheapest secondhand store just around the corner! What a treat to see Catherine so thrilled at the prospect of shopping on a dime! Seeing as I just helped her downsize and de-clutter, picking up new trinkets seemed silly, but silly was the doctor's orders for the day. Sixty seven dollars, and an hour later, we proudly sauntered to the car with a dusty soon- to- be beautiful crystal lamp, a tiny porcelain pink rosebud night lamp, a German glazed vase, a unique French Cognac bottle (empty unfortunately), and a framed antique painting of red roses! We felt the need to celebrate and landed at McDonald's where we devoured hamburgers, french fries, and banana strawberry smoothies. Catherine voiced how she hasn't had so much fun in a long time, and over 30 years,( if memory served her well), since she has had a hamburger! Sitting across from each other, my Big Mac in hand, Catherine was dismayed that her burger,unlike mine, had no sesame seeds on the bun or lettuce topping her small regular burger! Who knew she would have preferred a Big Mac! I took the crystal lamp home with me, polished it to death with Windex, found a ivory shade for it's top, and wrapped a pink ribbon around it! In the morning Catherine will have a brand new lamp to light her newly decorated suite......for a mere $25.00!!!!!!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Small room but oh what a magnificent huge miracle!

Took some time today to go peek in on my Elizabeth for she has been on my mind since the move day. I had no idea what to expect, but I should know by now that expectations are useless...especially negative ones. Calling out Liz's name while knocking on her door lets her know it's not a stranger approaching. Her door was opened slightly so I did my little high pitched Carol Burnett call ''Helloooooo'' which rest assured it could only be me. Elizabeth's grin was twice the size of her room!! Her familiar pressed dull grey hair was so fluffy and shiny, you'd think she had her own stylist! ''I didn't know you were coming today. How did you know I needed water??'', she exclaims, as I place 4 water bottles on her little morning table. While I loosen the tabs saving her arthritic bones work, she comes over with her arms outstretched and shares how so happy she is that I didn't forget her. If they only knew that spirits such as hers are unforgettable. I bought her a toothbrush, a scoop for her Epsom salts, an extension cord to hook up her cable,and a white rose that oddly enough matched her fluffy doo. We sat on her little grey love seat while she excitedly shared that she has been down to the dining lounge to eat all 3 meals of the day, the nurse gives her meds at breakfast and dinner, a bath is morning routine, and she drank enough milk to make up for the years it wasn't provided!!!!! Liz continues on about the care she is given, and is now a little worried about getting fat with her tummy full all day. I reassure her that fat is good, and we laugh. We looked in boxes for her winter boots which were now placed behind her door....just in case she finds energy to head outside!! What a remarkable transition for Liz! We can sure learn a great deal from folk who survived the depression, war and poverty, the greatest lesson for me was that Elizabeth's little space was perfect if love, food, support and attention reside within.....and of course, milk! Driving back home didn't compare to driving in. Elizabeth was happy, and even though the other lady at her lunch table kept putting her feet in Liz's space, Elizabeth reassured me that as of tomorrow, that will not be the case. ''I will keep my feet 'strong on floor' and she better watch out!!! That 'a girl, my German friend, that 'a girl!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Happiness in small places

Watching Elizabeth decide what little to take with her to her new little space was emotionally disruptive to both of us. She had already moved from her beloved home into a Retirement Community, and now she needed to be transported to an assisted floor that provides more acute care. As I negotiated the few items left to her name,it became obvious that her resistance reflected the fight to hold tight to her sense of autonomy and Independence. I promised that I would move everything over and we'd decide from there what might need removing if her safety was compromised. This new space was smaller than assumed and eventually she stoically relinquished her 2 corner cabinets that encased a handful of German treasures to make room for her breakfast table and 4 chairs...chairs that would continue to sit empty but held promise for perhaps a friendship or two. She had 5 clocks that I put up for her and wherever she sat in this tiny alcove, all could be seen and heard. There were hand sewn pillows that if stacked, would touch the ceiling, but they were non-negotiable.. She no longer had a kitchenette but insisted all utensils come with her. I convinced her that the fake flowers would only collect dust and irritate her breathing to which she quite readily agreed. Her favourite wooven door carpets could no longer be justified, the broken stemware should probably be discarded, yet the dozen or more crocheted doylies were keepsakes from countless friends that would be disappointed if Elizabeth thought so little to toss them after so much work and love shaped them.There were more silk framed art pieces and oils than walls, but the ''galleria look''offered an undisputed coziness. Her many prayer books offered endless faith, her five- too -many lamps enough light to reassure her safety, and blankets to warm her soul. The balcony will offer Elizabeth a bit more space, an outdoor retreat and an avenue that will help the time pass more quickly. Before our 7 hour day was finished and everything in place, I photographed Liz in her new room, placed a straw hat near her balcony entrance, put the prettiest silk cream curtains up to compliment her dinette set, and found a couple muffins, cookies and juice to nourish her loneliness. Liz promised to lock the door behind me, and as our brief relationship came to an end, I found myself wondering how many Elizabeths will press my heart strings to the max, and if I might be so lucky to be one of those friends she awaits at her kitchen table.....

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Hanging on to everything.....

Dear Elizabeth, at 89, is so reluctant to throw anything out, no matter the condition. This is another valuable bit of information I am learning about our older seniors. Reassuring her that we can manage to take everything to the new unit brought her great relief, no matter the worth that I may place on her belongings. When I arrived, Liz was lying on her bed and in need of a I thought. Her bedroom was the next room to pack up, so I wrapped candles that had very little life yet, broken baskets and plastic flowers, while Liz conversed with me about her fears, the facility food, old friends that have passed and her devoted husband Ted. We went to see her new unit again as she needed reassurance that this new space would accommodate her life's belongings. I can imagine that at one time, this woman was fearless, strong and self assured. Today, she believes many have taken advantage of her now that she is old, and she strongly wants it reinforced that she may be old but never stupid. While standing in the elevator, she grabs for my hand which is always interlocked with hers on our walks, and asks,'' Do you have someone and someplace to go when you get old? Never come to these places. Yes, you must never come to these places.'' She wasn't speaking about this place in particular, but anyplace where you feel alone... with so much time to realize how alone you are. As my time was ending, I wrapped one last piece of Liz's past life, a book marker shaped in a cross she had given to her Ted with the inscription - to my Ted, I love you.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Feb.10 New client...but only for a moment.

Today I had the profound pleasure of meeting a darling warm woman of 89!'' Liz # 1'' as she wants to be called, greeted me with open and trusting arms, and a smile that honoured my existence. Liz will be relocating to a unit that provides more assisted care in administering her meds. Her new suite has the largest balcony I have ever seen, contrary to her recent room that has but a window or two for viewing. My excitement while describing her outdoor space brought a wide childlike grin to Liz's face, and she knew immediately which chair would fit there! We sat and discussed which items she absolutely had to have, and other than noting her bed set and couch, her little stereo, a few tables and a light or two, she wanted for very little. On her desk sat a photo of her and her husband Ted, who she described as the most beautiful human she has ever known. Liz was so stately and beautiful in her lace wedding gown, that simple innocent beauty still gracing her face. How do I address business when a listening ear is all she asks for? How can I not think of my mom and that someday she will want for a moment of someone's time, and so grateful to get even a second? Denying myself a glimpse into the life of such a old soul seems impossible to do, and certainly not what I want to do. My dearest friends are over 80, and to see them as business clients would be foreign to me. So while Liz shared many memories, we organized our time together and decided where the 'little she had' would go. Our next visit, I will take Liz to her new suite, which lies empty and cleaned, and we can decide where she wants to place her belongings. We will methodically go closet to drawer to cabinet and suggest ways to diminish her treasures until she is satisfied. All she asks is that white sheer curtains be placed over the large window, and her rocker and little wooden chair be for the porched balcony. I think I can manage that....and a million more little things that will hopefully make her last bit of home her happiest. What an honour to be part of her life. I hope I measure up....

Keepers of the Gate

In the last 4 weeks I have toured several Retirement Communities while educating myself to the services  available to those seniors thinking of retiring from their family homes. To speak of the ''bells and whistles'' that accommodate these facilities, the newest and most trendy, to the communities that have sheltered the older population for decades, seems irrelevant if the care is substandard. On the contrary, the most remarkable, compassionate, loving women dominate the field, mostly baby boomers themselves, spirit keepers to our aged parents and grandparents. The elite facilities that take your breath away upon entry, will never fool the senior who knows better that things of beauty and wealth matter so little if they do not feel loved and accepted. Many of my appointments involved touring the premises with the Director or Manager, but we never quite made the tour. Rather we spent time talking of our elders and the reverence they are entitled to, our children whom we hope will carry the torch bright with empathy for our aged families, the mission we feel we must pursue all in honour and gratitude to the 70,80, and 90 year olds that grace our earth. I felt so comforted knowing the likes of women like Barbara, Gloria, Theresa, Louise, Lisa, and Amy are out there with patient and devoted hearts, making the longest of days seem short and memorable for those, who at times, find the hours without end. Kudos to those that watch over mom and dad when we can't, to those selfless individuals that care when others don't...I remain grateful.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Catherine has overcome the flu!!!

Almost 3 weeks since Catherine took ill, we are now well enough to continue the work we started with organizing her suite, unpacking and finishing a rather large task. It takes very little to comfort any anxiety that comes with being older, a kind reassuring word and a free ear goes a long way. Our day was rather long, not for me but certainly for Catherine, as we took 5 hours to check many of the chores off the list.She has no idea how courageous and strong she is, having moved not only from one city to another, but also from another country....alone as well! As more time is spent with our seniors, I begin to understand the uncertainty, and self-criticism they are plagued with from one moment to another.Coming to terms with getting older, coping with physical and intellectual matters with greater uncertainty and less faith, opens the door to fear, rejection and loneliness. Catherine feels the need to apologize every other moment, feeling she is not worthy of another's help. I quipped that if I were to charge her $100.00 for all the countless insensitive remarks she subjects her spirit to, I would be a millionnaire! The saddest part of this remains her inability to see her strengths, her kind soul, her beauty, her worth. What becomes of us from our self assured 50's to our doubting 70's and 80's?  Is there anything we can do to bottle the confidence of our youth and middle years? Can we somehow dismiss as quickly as we demean? Does society play a role in assuring our seniors of their valued place among us? Will anything I say to Catherine make a difference to her esteem? Being a defender and staunch advocate of love and kindness, while I work the remaining days with Catherine, it will be the moments in between I'll fill with the power of persuasion, suggesting all that she is entitled to and worthy of....wish me luck....wish her.. .acceptance.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A grace she has earned......

With each piece of stemware, china, candle, and trinket that was unwrapped from its' travels,a vibrant, worldly and full life unfolded before me. Catherine's beautiful journey to where she is today was documented by the many pieces of souvenirs she's collected along the way. Spending a mere 4 hours with her taught me so much about the heartache and love that followed Catherine. Her home was wiped off the map by Hurricane Charlie a month after she lost her husband, and she managed to muster through the devastation and heartache with true grace. Certain photos and objects brought such joy to her as she reminisced how each item dignified her life time and time again.Catherine was reading her life story to me, to which I saw a sadness and resignation over most of it being over, and now it was a matter of watching the days turn to nights and minutes unfolding into hours. I cleary saw how strong and independant she had thought herself, but no such assurance displayed itself today.She often tried convincing herself that life is good no matter her place in it, yet the years had diminished a confidence and pride she onced carried. A very real sadness lie vigilant as it tried to convince Catherine of her diminished worth, a worth that often accompanies the aged and alone. Too often our seniors devalue their importance and begin to prematurely wither along with their bodies.Catherine has nothing to apologize for. She is a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a professional, a friend and a warrior.There isn't enough time for me to convince Catherine of her continued worth to so many who love her dearly.She mustn't forget her significant place in this world, and she needs to know that her spirit would be truly missed by those that have loved her forever...and by us lucky few that spend but a brief time with her. I can't expect more time with Catherine than what it allotted us, but I can expect that the hugs we exchange last our lifetimes. By the end of my earthly stay, I can only hope I attain half the grace and courage that Catherine carries. Tomorrow I fear is our last day together, for the boxes will be discarded, her little space made cosy, the clutter from her move removed,and my services no longer needed. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to meet Miss Catherine, and hopefully our short friendship will sustain a lifetime....

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Office has been identified and uncovered!

What a sense of accomplishment! Catherine did more ''homework'' than was asked of her, which so thrilled the teacher in me, and today's labour was worth the sweat! We found the office area that was cloaked in boxes, organized all the crossword puzzles down to one file, enlisted many a name into the address book and even found time to laugh and be silly! I suggested Catherine start a corner store that sold calendars, pens, stickers, markers and clips! No homework for dear Catherine tonight. She was ordered to relax, to which she quipped,''Could you spell that please''! Another day, another hug, another friend in the making...

Monday, 16 January 2012

Proud little peacocks we are....

Catherine and I did not need any duct tape, for we stayed on task like two pros. I sensed how nervous she was to find some order and peace, hence we both had the same goal to accomplish. She had a doctor appointment and sheepishly aked if I would accompany her, to which we found her a permanent physician, and a great deal of relief. We rid areas of yellow sticky notes, organized new files and phone numbers, even managed sorting through a candle box! It wasn't difficult mustering empathy for this very proud woman who apologized at every turn for overtaxing my bones. Relocating to a new country, changing all personal information, finding new caregivers, dealing with insurance and renewals,taxes and banking galore, I reassured her she had every right to feel overwhelmed and somewhat confused. Having cleared our first desk of clutter, Catherine's hovering grey cloud slowly shifted. She proclaimed I was exactly what she needed. Tomorrow we tackle her past life documents, clear another area, discard another box, fill another garbage bag, and free Catherine's burden that keeps her from enjoying herself. Decluttering chaos declutters the mind.She needs to find peace, and I intend on finding it for Catherine.Our time ends with a sigh of relief, Catherine wanting to know if she has any homework. Why yes you do Miss Catherine, put your feet up and relax! My glory comes by way of a gentle kiss on the cheek and a warm hug full of gratitude. Tomorrow's another day.....

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Lovely Lunch with Leah....

87 years of love, heartache, children, grandchildren, sorrow, humour, faith, church, friendships, and optimism! This life list belongs to Leah.We had the humble pleasure of breaking bread (egg salad sandwiches) with an adorably witty and wise gal that Tom and I met at the Anglican church. The very moment this dynamo package of maybe 5 ft. saw us, she embraced us like someone dear from our past, and Leah embodied the past like a fine rich full wine. So, today we had her over for a simple lunch, many spots of tea, homemade potato soup, beets, and banana pudding! Upon meeting Leah, you knew you wanted her vibrant spirit in your corner of life, like having a lucky ace up your sleeve. She shared her seasoned story, photos, and a smile that gave the sun a run for its' money! The afternoon escaped us, and before dusk, I walked Miss Leah out to her car, our hands entwined. As she shifts into the driver's seat of her car, she peeks from under her wool knitted hat and whispers,'' Keep care of that dear Tom of yours, and each Sunday while he and I sit together in prayer, I'll do the know, I can do alot in one hour''. Don't doubt, I say!.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Smooth Transitions of Essex County has its' FIRST CLIENT!!!

This morning I woke to my phone ringing with text messages! ''Windsor Star, page 2, an article on you!!!Since then, it has generated more people asking to work FOR me than people needing my services! God knows I'm going to need them with the reaction to my new business! Thank you to Sharon Hill from the Windsor Star, for informing our seniors of all the services out there for them.
Catherine. Client #1. What a peach of a woman! After an afternoon spent with this graceful lady, we are now friends. The word client seems impersonal and inaccurate. My husband was worried about this.A business woman I'm not, a friend and confident, oh yes! Here's the conflict. I can't imagine charging Catherine for sharing an afternoon together when we both should have been discussing the task at hand! When we said our goodbyes, exchanged hugs,we promised to wear duct tape over our mouths so work might get accomplished! We are in trouble...

Thursday, 12 January 2012

At day's first client!!!!

What a great and exciting way to end a very long yet productive day!! A manager at a Windsor Retirement Facility ( taught her 23 years ago!) happened across my write-up in Windsor Business Magazine, connected with me  and provided Smooth Transitions Of Essex County it's first new client! God bless you Lisa!What an exhilirating feeling after all the hard legwork, to now have the business off the ground! There were so many wonderful gals I came across today who embraced this new journey of mine, and even promoted it while I was at the hospital today waiting on Tom's appointment. To the prettiest smiling face in the Endoscopy lab, dear Linda, for always sharing selfless acts of kindness at every turn, to whom I am most grateful.To my son Ben who was without words when realizing his mom was on Linkedin....shocked that I was ''linked in'' to anything, and rooting me on in my second career! Then there's Anne, a kind soft spoken lady who took time out of her busy schedule to meet with me and share the wisdom and insights she has collected while caring for seniors. There was an interview where the individual questioned the strategy I'd need to be successful in business, to which I replied, ''It's rather simple. There's no secret formula, no 100 page business plan, no intense research. This isn't a business, really, it's a vocation to which I will implement the same philosophy used in teaching for 30 years. Be it child or senior that stands beside me, I must remember, that someone out there thinks they are the cats meow and therefore worthy of the best I can offer.'' I'll learn how to write an invoice, but more importantly, I'll listen to the little voice within that has been a trustworthy beacon to me...all of my life.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Four 'Graceful Beautiful Beloved ' women

It has been weeks since the last entry as Christmas slowed down anything and everything that didn't pertain to the holiday! The last week has involved collecting contacts, connecting with newspaper and magazine publishers, met some mighty helpful folks and continued this relentless pursuit introducing Smooth Transition services. The reception has been quite positive, and now I await with the same excitement that engaged me while teaching. Retirement and I don't seem to get along, it mandates leisure and personal pursuits long awaited, but I'm finding my life journey must involve some sort of payback for all life's blessings! Three of my most treasured friendships are with women in their 80's,who seem to enjoy and love me as much as I them! My meme was a most beautiful spirit that adored this little redhead, freckled face, skinny bones of a child.She was the first endearing old soul that validated my worth, and loved spending time with her little granddaughter. Reflecting back over the years, I now realize why the need exists to live and work amongst the seniors of the community. Then,at the age of nine, my family moved from Elsmere St. to Reedmere in Riverside. Riding my bike through the new neighborhood, I stopped at the neighbour's house to introduce myself! Mrs. Nellie Wright, a white haired senior, sat on her porch knitting in her pretty dress and seemed happy to meet me...and I her. My meme no doubt set the two of us up from her seat in heaven, and started what was to become a friendship that lasted over Mrs. Wright's lifetime, and through my childhood, adolescence and into my 40's ,when her dear soul died at 100 yrs old! When Mr.Wright died, Nellie moved to Lethbridge Alberta to be with her niece and nephew, all the while writing back and forth throughout my life that kept me busy as a single mother to my beautiful son, Ben. I miss my grandmother and Mrs. Wright more than life itself, and fate has one more time provided a most precious old gal named Pat Davis to keep me company while in the absence of my late friends, and at a time in my life when her gift of friendship enlightens all that I have come to be as a 56 year old woman.We spend countless hours sharing our stories, heartbreaks and blessings. Pat lost a baby named Gerald who died at the age of 3 weeks, and her heartache remains vivid. Her sister was murdered at 33, a visceral pain that unleashes tears to this day. She has 6 grown children all the same age as my siblings, a marriage that continues over 60 years as my parents, and a lifetime of wisdom that she welcomes sharing with me. Then there is my greatest life blessing, my 82 year old mother Maxine, the first woman to hold me, wipe my tears, guide my journey through womanhood, love my son to death, and forever stands in the wings with a love and conviction for my life like no other. Is there no wonder why I would want to be with our community seniors? Blessings continue....