Post-visit reflections

Hard to believe it’s been nearly two weeks since my sneak preview experience at the retirement home. I am so impressed with my new-found ability to actually take pictures with my phone that I have to share some of the photos I took of the fabulous suite I stayed in. (Tried to upload them that night but, alas, technotardia struck deep.) Looking through these photos reminds me of the strangeness of the whole experience. Even stranger is the confusion of feelings I had about living in a retirement home. Crashing for a couple of days after I came home was a mystery too, and I still don’t get why. Was it culture shock, or, more accurately “elder shock”?

I tried to write a summation of my thoughts on the whole deal the day after I came home, but it was too big. There was too much to feel and think to actually commit anything to hard copy. I had to just absorb it all.

Here are a few of the things I learned, or learned again:

  1. Don’t be late for dinner.
  2. If you are late for dinner don’t make excuses; just be grateful for whatever is on your plate.
  3. Slow is relative.
  4. Peace and quiet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
  5. When life revolves around mealtimes, the spaces in between fill up pretty quick. 
  6. Retirement is an opportunity to re-create your life. So much more is out there waiting to be discovered, even when you’re 90.
  7. Five walkers and walker-owners really will fit into a regular-sized elevator.
  8. Some people are just crabby. It’s got nothing to do with age.
  9. People who accept change as inevitable don’t get caught in a log-jam; they travel on downstream. 
  10. Luxury is not synonymous with comfort.
  11. Men don’t last. Enjoy ’em while you have ’em.

There were a few other surprises, like what it might feel like to live in a foreign country, or on another planet. I had underestimated my own aversion to frailty and the inevitable end of life. After a day, I surprised myself more than once when I saw a worker or visitor (they stood out) and caught myself thinking, “I look like them!” It was a relief to feel I was “other than” an elderly person. But I got my come uppance one morning when I was waiting for the elevator with another resident. She struck up a conversation with, “So have you just moved in?”

It was a long three days. Not just because I was away from home and hubby and pets but because there was simply no escaping that no matter how we dress up aging it is coming after us. If we are lucky. And the women outnumbered the men by about 30 to 1, seriously! At 53 I am so much younger than I think! I am going to (try to) stop looking over my shoulder at the young woman I once was and start to recognize and embrace the gifts that only come with time and experience. It’s tough to not wish for youth to return (especially when I find out I can’t twist like I used to) but really, how dumb is that? It would be like a 23-year-old wanting to trade her youth for experience. You get one or the other; so–love the one you’re with.

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