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Let Us Say Goodbye!

Posted on 04/01/17

Dick Weinman is an AARP Volunteer Blogger and an Assisted Living Guru

As I sat in the quiet of the sanctuary, the silence broken by the whispery voices of the mourners, an occasional cough, the squish of feet and walkers awkwardly treading down the aisle, the sleepy environment lured my mind to roil.  I latched on to one of my rolling thoughts . .

. . . for those of us who will close our years on earth in an Assisted Living Facility, we septuagenarians, octogenarians, even we few nonagenarians – who have all “suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,”- our demise will be announced to the ALF by our Administrator, while we are gathered in the dining room waiting in readiness for a meal.

Voices stop. A hush falls over the assemblage, as residents recognize the slow, steady, slightly raised pitch, the drop in volume, and the straight-forward-jack webb-“just the facts, ma’am”- vocal tone.

Death is serious.

Oh yes, there are those whispered shouts: “who’s she,” “where does she sit,” “does she use a walker?”  (Most of us living here use one, or are in wheelchairs, or trust a cane – we need some kind of adaptive device – not  many of us are bi-podal. Isn’t that why we’re here –  heir to one of those “slings of outrageous fortune?”)  But for the most part, the departed is known – and the passing may even have been presaged.

For many of us, dying is followed by our community of loved ones and friends holding a

memorial service, a celebration of our life.

             The ALF is also a community, and some of us  would like to join the celebration. But there is one major hang-up. As sept/oct/nano genarians, almost no one has a car or license.  How do we go?

            My mind’s rummaging stopped, as my attention was pulled toward the stage, where altar boys and girls were placing flowers and lighting candles.

Then suddenly, I was thrust back inside my mind . . . .

Our facility has a bus, nicely painted and touting our excellence in stately script lettering, a mobile call to garner seniors or their children (“hmm. I was wondering where to put dear old dad.”) The moving sandwich board can be seen as it travels to various locations in the community – Safeway, The Dollar Store, K-Mart – and other locations a group is designated to go to. So, why not take members of the ALF community to say good bye to one of our members? If we can go shopping, if we can ride in the countryside or observe Christmas lights, shouldn’t we  be able to say good bye to one of our own. 

            Yes. Why not?

[Photo by iStock RobertHoetink]

The post Let Us Say Goodbye! appeared first on AARP States.

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