Aging affects all of us differently. I find it very difficult to comprehend the people who send their children away to go to school without thinking about long-term ramifications. When my children become college age, I hope they stay right here with me. I shudder when I hear a parent proudly state, "I don’t want my child to stay in Lansing (you can fill in any town). He is going out of state to school."
To all of those people I say, good luck. Good luck when you get older and there’s no one there for you. I mean who’s going to pick up your medication when you can’t do it yourself.
Think about it … is your daughter or son that you sent to UCLA going to leave sunny California for you? I mean pack up and move back to Michigan, leaving the lives that he or she has created in California. I forgot to add that they may have children of their own who have become the second generation Californians. They are expected to return for the emotional visits.
Visiting a nursing home is traumatic. It’s not the young children who you have to worry about. It’s the adults and the teenagers.
Last year, I took Anissa with me to New York to see my father, who is an amputee from diabetic complications. Anissa wanted to know everything about his leg. She asked him the why’s, when’s and where’s. It’s very difficult to visit a person who is undergoing specialized care in a hospital.
So when I found out that a friend of mine was going into a nursing home to recuperate from knee surgery, I thought it was strange. A nursing home to recuperate from surgery?
I had all types of feelings about it, but I went to see her regardless of my personal feelings about hospitals and nursing homes. I wanted to give my friend something special. I went to October Moon.
October Moon is a store located at 1209 Turner Street in Lansing’s Old Town. It’s a diamond in the rough. It’s one of those places that you can find a gift for anyone. So I decided to get my friend this fabulous hand cream. It was so rich and luxurious and I wanted her to have it. The owner of October Moon has this really special way of sending you off with a gift. The package usually includes a bow and flowers. My package came with a beautiful healthy pink blush rose.
I really didn’t have time to prepare myself for a visit. I just wanted to make sure that my friend knew there was someone thinking about her. My father was on my mind because he was recently released from a nursing home. He still goes back and forth between home and the hospital. I was the one who moved away to Michigan. I’m the one who’s not helping my sister as much as I would like to. I want to be there for my sister and my father, but I live in Lansing, MI. I hope that 60 Minutes does a special on "Transient Times: The After Effects of Not Living Close to Your Elderly Parents." I’d have a lot to add to that segment.
I arrived during lunch and it was very interesting. The Accordion Lady was there playing tunes from the forties. Ninety-eight percent of those in the lunch area were women. My friend was happy to see me and I was happy to see her. She shared her lotion with her companions at the table and they all got a whiff of the rose. I realized that sharing was very important in the nursing home environment.
As the Accordion Lady played, the "Too Fat Polka (I Don’t Want Her, You Can Have Her, She’s Too Fat For Me)" which is a tune by Arthur Godfrey and followed it up with "Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Good-Bye) by Mel Blanc, I started to smile. Some of the residents knew all of the words and sang along. The 1940’s music being played was taking them to a place that provided them comfort and enjoyment.
I thought, "Wow, when I’m in a nursing home they’ll play ’90’s music." The thought of me in my 80s with a group of geriatrics bobbing our heads and tapping or feet to MC Hammer’s "You Can’t Touch This" or Coolio’s "Gangsta’s Paradise" or Right Said Fred’s "I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt" made me stop for a minute.
I daydreamed about me with totally gray hair talking to my friends about back in the day. I would have a smile on my face and tell them that I have to go because I needed to get ready for my visiting family.
My family visits often because they don’t live far away. I would tell them that I get to see my grandchildren at least once a week. And my friends would smile and say in unison, "So that you can send them back home!!!" I would sigh and say yes. But deep down inside I would be grateful that I knew my grandchildren even though they complained about the "smell" and all of the other old people. I would be the grandmother who had pictures that actually hung on my wall the week that it was made instead of through e-mail.
Yes, I think that would make getting older a little bit easier on me mind, body and spirit.