My dear friend’s parents were moved into assisted living. In the course of a short month, or to them the longest month of their lives, my friend’s Mom died and her Dad didn't want to go on without her.
Her Dad is a stable, loyal, hardworking, sturdy and steadfast Mainer in his eighties. For this man to be reduced to such sadness was difficult to accept and witness.
Their home up north sits on a hill overlooking potato farms, fields, and an occasional long road. It sits empty. A lifetime, their life, haunting those walls and mounds of snow in the front yard.
There was basketball and skiing. There were seemingly endless mornings, days of work and school and college. Days of winter, days of summer, heat, cold, sun, rain. There was love and laughter, tears and frustrations, meals and Christmases and birthdays, and wonderful whoopie pies – a recipe that can’t be shared because it’s a family secret.
My friend’s Dad was an avid reader. He loved history and to learn. Now, his eyesight is nearly gone. Of course, it’s to be expected that what you use the most would get used up in eighty-odd years, but it is the cruelest of hoaxes, isn’t it? To lose what you covet the most, what brings you the most pleasure, to have your pleasure taken from you, your eyesight, your physique, the love of your life. You once thought her the most beautiful girl in the world and over years and years, you watch her age and wither and fail.
As my friend, her sister and brother emotionally left their home for the assisted living facility that day, they watched their father carry four hangers and a radio.
Some furniture would be brought to their apartment once they got through the waiting list and their apartment became available; the kids carried his suitcase of clothes. Her brother watched his Dad settle into the passenger seat of their car, deflated, defeated, sad.
“What’s the point?” her brother asked of her… or maybe just to himself. “You work and try and push hard your whole life and this is what it comes down to? Four hangers and a radio?”
The entire family shifted that day…the day they walked their parents away from home and into assisted living.