Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Second Look--March 30, 2016

The goldfinch are changing from their dull winter colors to their bright summer colors .


Spring is the season with the most dramatic changes as the world emerges from its dullness. Yesterday, I was surprised by one of these changes. There was a brightly colored goldfinch on the feeder. Both the males and females have been a muted, yellow-gray all winter, but yesterday I saw the brilliant yellow color that they are so well known for. (I guess the males are sprucing up to attract the females.)

Changes have been very much on my mind recently after a visit with my mother in a nursing home. During my visit, I spent many hours every day with her and observed a lot of things.  I saw people whose bodies and, sometimes, minds were wearing out. Basic everyday functions that I took for granted, most residents needed help with. This makes a nursing home a difficult place to visit for many including me. The most difficult part of all of this was imagining myself reaching this point some day besides the obvious grieving for losses my mother suffers.

Ward pushing my mother on a walking
path they have. Another positive.
But after a little time, I started to see past the problems and started to see the people underneath their aging bodies. And they were not all a miserable bunch. I saw some with new found contentment as they no longer had to worry about how they were going to care for themselves. I saw others who found out that they liked certain foods that they thought they didn't like. I also saw some who were very happy with the social aspect of things and were present at every activity. And yet another with dementia who forgot she liked to smoke. In other words, many of the residents had found the positive in the changes that had brought them there.

But even more than realizing that one can be happy anywhere, I was comforted to know that the basic personality of someone still shines through from the beginning of life to the end. There was a man who were unable to speak, but had on clothes from his favorite sports team every day. There were some who noticed every detail in the room and others who only saw what was in front of them. There were some who were quiet and others who were quite talkative. All things they did before. My favorite story about this is the sense of humor that one woman still has.

My mother's roommate, Elsie,  is 98 years old and has never been married. While she is bedridden, she still has a very good mind and sense of humor. One evening one of the staff sat down and talked with her for a while and as she was leaving said, "Now, Elsie, if you need anything, just let me know." To which Elsie said with a twinkle, "Well, it certainly won't be a man!" That comment has made me smile for days.

While my mind continues to sort out both the global and personal issues associated with aging and end of life, I am starting to come to understand that although the changes can be quite dramatic, underneath them all, it's just another phase of a person's life.