MUCH AS I ENJOY solitude, there's something to be said for socialization.
Many's the day in my old life when I felt less fit than a fiddle and if I got myself out into the world, interacting with others, the veil of lackluster would lift.
I know for a fact that as one ages, the level of social activity is likely to lessen. In a book, "The Girls With Grandmother Faces", I recall reading that each morning we make the decision to be a statue or a bird. Too many statue days in a row and we're in trouble.
Here at the Manor, we can stay in our rooms or venture forth, most often at mealtimes to interact with other folks. Most of the people here have a positive attitude. With the others, it's a good exercise to see if we can bring a smile to the face or at best, cause a chuckle. We're far from being 100% successful, but it's a challenge worth considering.
We remember the normally gloomy lady who was so looking forward to taking a week-long cruise with her daughter. It was the most light-hearted we'd ever seen her. Upon her return I greeted her with my enthusiastic query, "How was it???" Said she, "They shrunk my white sweater." Actually, her experience had been quite wonderful, but she chose a negative to sum up her vacation. Frankly, I was delighted. It fit the woman I'd come to know.
I'm a people watcher and observing even a gracious display of manners such as this, is heartwarming. So many of the residents have lost their long-time partners; she, her husband, he, his wife. I've noticed no tendencies toward romance among the residents, although when our daughter worked in a retirement community she told me of the battle of the women when a new man moved in.
102 year old Adelaide teaches; Marina, a nurse in the Health Center learns. Age makes no difference. It's the coming together than counts.
There's much to talk about and a wealth of stories to recount and hear. At one time I started a journal of subjects of conversation at the dinner table. I wish I had continued it for the subject range is enormous. Introducing the subject of any prizes won over the years or Halloween costumes worn or favorite movies guarantees plenty of exchange while waiting to be served.
Even the chit-chat that occurs when having a chance blood pressure reading when encountering the nurse in the hall on her way to tend to another resident is an positive experience. One feels a tad better afterward, as each goes on his way.
Yes, a certain amount of gossip goes on......it's good for our circulation, I'm convinced. How I love what Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, "If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me." I've heard virtually no malicious talk. It's an astonishingly polite group with whom we live.
We have interns at the Manor from a nearby college, studying to get their degrees in Social Work and they take the time to visit with residents. The interchange between young and old is valuable to both. Roberto was from Egypt and he had plans to return to his country for an extended visit. I thought long and hard about him during the recent uprising.
Jane and Mary take such good care of each other. Often they can be seen searching for Jane's walker. Most often it can be found in her room. They are absolute darlings, always being sure to sit in the front row when it's time for entertainment programs to begin. They promptly succumb to the Land of Nod, but wake up in time to applaud.
"Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being."
~ Mohandas Gandhi