THERE WAS NO LET-DOWN feeling the day after Christmas, for that was the day our eldest and his family drove four hundred miles from Northern California to see us. Four year old Owen, always a charmer, has blossomed into full-blown boyhood, coming up with his own jokes and constantly building creations in his mind's eye.
I asked his Dad if he thought Owen might grow up to be an inventor and Chris' response was, "Either that or terribly disappointed."
Because the two guestrooms here at the Manor had been booked previous to my request, our family needed to stay in our room which was perfectly fine with us, but let me explain our dormitory arrangement. Frances slept on our sofa. To minimize the footprint
they leave behind, they come bearing their own sheets, pillows and towels.
Christopher lays out his sleeping bag on the floor with his head to the mirrored closet doors and his feet in the kitchen. He's somewhere there in the red and black fabric.
One morning a soft knock sounded on the door at 5:30 a.m. No one had alerted us that anyone was coming to draw Mr. Bob's blood for a coumadin test, so we weren't expecting visitors. Chris untangled himself from his cocoon, got to the door on his knees, opened it and the nurse asked, "Mr. Humphrey?" which, after all, is indeed his name. Never mind that he looked too young to be living here. Luckily all health workers check a patient's birth date before starting any procedure.
Somehow she picked her way to the bedroom where the intended Mr. Humphrey withdrew his arm from the covers, offered it to her. Mission accomplished, she found her way to the front door and let herself out.
Retirement home living is different in some ways and that was one of them. Friends express surprise that maintenance people and health workers have access to our rooms if we don't answer their knock. I, myself, am surprised that so many of the staff have found us in our nightclothes and various stages of undress. These things matter less with age, I think.. My mother used to say, "If you see anything you haven't seen before, throw your old hat at it." So far no one's tossed a chapeau in our direction.