Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Talk of "home" is ladies last..

Sometimes a simple act has great significance to an elder. Whether they are at home, living in a facility or hospitalized, just a few moments of time spent can lift their spirits for days.

I spent the last week of May in my home town and saw Mom every day. On the way to her room one afternoon I saw a very elderly lady struggling to get comfortable in her chair. Feeling bad, I sat next to her to ask if I could help. We easily began a conversation and it turned out that we had some connections. Fay, age 93, turned out to be the aunt of my cousin and she grew up in the same small Hoosier town as my husband.

Fay told me as much as she remembered about my cousin and we talked about the old businesses in that small town she remembered so well. She brightened up as she described the cafe where she met her husband and how she worked to send him money after he moved across the country get settled ahead of her arrival. I reassured her that the cafe was still open ( it really is) and I told her about recent renovations at the historic county court house, a relatively new building when she moved west in the mid-1930's. We talked of things she missed about the midwest - huge peaches, lightening bugs, the beautiful fall colors and her family. We also talked about things particular to her home town - traffic at a stand still several times a day as long, long trains passed through, the old brick Catholic Church torn down long ago; the fierce wind and hail that build quickly and pound through town and the flooding that used to happen on the south side of town. I know relatively little about my husband's home town, but the things I do know were the same things that Fay remembered very well. Coincidence?

Fay easily remembered both addresses where she lived so I relayed those to my husband who took pictures of the tiny houses and emailed them to me. Our talk lasted only about an hour but she was truly aware and so happy to make a connection to her friends and family; it was something familiar in a place and time where she outlived all her "new" connections. She mentioned that she had not seen much of her family since moving in the mid- 1930's so meeting someone from "home" was exciting.

Before I had a chance to print the photos and deliver them, Fay passed away in her sleep just two days after our conversation. At first I felt bad that I had not made it with the reprints of her home but I guess that after our reminiscing she decided to go there and see them for herself.