Words to think about from our staff at PE
They have been married for 66 years. The wife lives in the family home. Her husband is in a full time care facility. She won’t drive much anymore and he can’t drive at all.
Every Sunday morning he hires the accessibility van to bring him home. If the bus is late picking him up, he knows she will worry. He calls her from his flip phone to give her a new ETA.
She cooks his favorite breakfast and has it ready as soon as he arrives. For a special treat for lunch, some Sunday’s she will go to the local fast food place and bring home his favorites. When she asks him what he wants for supper, he always answers “Whatever you make will be delicious.” They share and enjoy the comfort of eating their meals together at the dining room table; the same table that in the 50’s and 60’s sat a family of five, then six, and finally a family of seven.
These people are my parents.
Whenever I visit, I make sure to leave their house a little sooner than I might normally to give them their private time. As I’m going out the door I say with a smile “this is your opportunity for intimacy.” She giggles. He chuckles.
I’ve witnessed their intimacy being expressed by a glance, a pat, a smile, a peck on the cheek, or loving words of sincere appreciation for the little things they do for each other in their short weekly visits together. They spend that brief alone time doing the Sunday crossword together, or playing a few rounds of Dominos. On warm, sunny afternoons, they sit on the deck, the deck he built long ago. The neighbor’s dogs on the other side of their fence provide backyard entertainment.
Suddenly it’s 6:30 in the evening and the bus has pulled up to take him back to the care facility. He’ll be back next week and she will have his favorite foods and the Sunday paper waiting for him.
At PREPARE/ENRICH, we know the value of having the conversation about looking ahead.
Do you ever imagine yourselves as a couple when you’ve reached your golden years either together or separately? What might that possibly look like for you?
Consider the amount of time you spend together now. One day that may change. You need to ask yourself if each of you will be equipped to maintain the daily running of the household by yourself. Will you be OK being by yourself with little social outlet?
In the same way you look at the changing expressions of intimacy, knowing the comfort and closeness it can bring in its many forms, think about how you might experience your favorite recreational and leisure activities. Consider how you define recreation and leisure activities now and what that might need to look like 66 years from now. Cultivate ways of entertaining yourself as an individual now by finding activities you can do with little effort. Your calendar today is most likely loaded with events, parties, meetings, vacations and all kinds of activities. Social outlets are important to mind, body, and spirit. Some day you might define social events as sharing a cup of tea with the neighbor who has those dogs you enjoy seeing play over the back fence. It might be visiting with the person who walks past your house on their daily walk.
Being out in nature is a great mood elevator. It won’t be a hike to the summit of the mountain, but it can be sitting on the back deck reminiscing, eyes closed, a smile in your heart, enjoying the feeling of the sun on your face. What’s making those dogs bark?!