Given weather conditions and our fair weather-ness tendencies, we visited the Life Care Center Nursing Home on Sunday. Linda Leary, a dear friend, author, poet and restorative practice wonder, joined us.
The visit to Life Care started off differently than our other two visits to local senior assistance facilities. When we walked in, we could sense an immediate wariness with our presence. Sara, an administrator at the facility, made it clear we could not walk around unescorted and could not take pictures of the residents(HIPPA concerns). So, Sara accompanied us and monitored our actions during our visit. But alas, our Belonging Revolution has a way of opening up people to new possibilities. We went from being outsiders with a seemingly ulterior agenda to friends.
We made many friends, heard some great life stories and left believing the staff and the residents at the Life Care Center Nursing Home had an air of belonging amongst and with each other and with us!
This facility had considerably more staff and we heard constantly from the residents that they felt cared for and supported by a loving staff.
We engaged with a number of staff and residents during our visit. Sara started off as the stern monitor but soon morphed into an enthusiastic fellow walker.
A lovely staff person, Josephina, was so tickled to talk with Dan. Dan had her in stitches.
We encountered Ruth – the head nurse, a long-time friend of Mikes. She was amazingly cheerful and Mike and her shared stories.
Then there was Leilani. WOW with a capital WOW! She was a walking and living beautiful flower. She walked us back to the room of an dear friend of Mike and Dan. Al was not feeling well but acknowledged our presence and asked us to come back.
Chelsea was another staff person who did not want to leave our presence but her lunch break ended and she reluctantly left our presence.
We met Josie and her mom who were there visiting Josie’s great grandmother. Josie was also selling girls scout cookies and we all weakened at the sight of thin mints. So Mike purchased a few boxes.
We are not above bending a few rules now and then and we did take a photo of Richard who gave us a huge smile.
Mike called me his past Saturday and said “What say we visit the Life Care Center of Longmont tomorrow?” I replied, “Right on let’s do it! “. However, when I looked outside this past Sunday morning I thought this might not be a day to be traveling on the streets of Longmont as it was foggy and somewhat cold outside, but then the sun came out. And we visited the Life Care Center of Longmont and oh my! Of all the visits we have made this was so extraordinary for me in that when I came home after the visit I was sad!! Big time sad! I was so touched and moved talking and visiting with many disabled elders who were in their wheel chairs and, especially one gentleman who was laying on a couchhardly able to function but smiled and managedsome pleasant words when we talked to him.
However, I was able to shed some of my sadness and even made me want to do a happy dance when I Introduced Josephina the Latina lady who worked at Life Care and who spoke very little English. So I spoke to her in Spanish and she beamed, literally beamed from ear to ear that she was talking to the Chief of Police and Fire of Longmont and this seemed so important to her and as it is to us in our Latino community!! And I also felt good when the elder lady told us how wonderful that we were there talking to her. She went on to tell us she wants to write a book about her life and her experiences.
And this visit was every so emotional for me because it also brought back memories whenI and my family took care of my mamacita for nearly a year in her home while she was dying of cancer. And I look back and thank God I was there with her when she took her final breath.
Linda Leary’s perspective
It was only my second “Belonging Revolution” walk with Dan and Mike, and it was meaningful as always. This was a bit different for me in that the “community” we visited were residents of Life Care, a long term care and skilled rehab facility for seniors. I refer to these people the “Silent Community”. Since my mother passed last summer in Ohio my ninety year old father asked to live with me in Colorado for as long as possible. His next stop would be something like Life Care or assisted living. Mike, Dan and I spoke with staff and some residents about their sense of belonging within their community of Longmont. Speaking with these senior residents, many of whom no longer get out into the larger community, requires a slightly different listening, from my perspective. Their community may now be defined by the walls of a building, and the visitation of family and friends to keep them apprised of what is happening “out there”. And yet, these people represent my parents and grandparents. They were once active and vital members in their respective communities. They held jobs, careers, raised children, and were able to voice their opinions more easily because they were independent and mobile. What I was reminded of as I spoke with a charming senior, named Betty, is these people have a story to tell and wisdom to share to available listening ears. They still have a desire to make some difference and to be active in whatever way is possible to them given their present circumstances. They have ideas. Good ones. But for a few more years, I will be them. I applaud Mike and Dan for not forgetting our “Silent Community”. In some Native American traditions, these elders represent our “Old Eyes Wisdom”, not to be tossed away or taken lightly but valued for what they have already experienced and learned. And I came away with new learning and respect. I look forward to my next walk with my “brothers”, Dan and Mike. It is always an adventure and I come away with a full heart every time. J