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.....

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