As my two readers already know, I have been working on remodeling an old hospital into a nursing home as well as an assisted living facility. The project is at a stage now where parts of the building are being occupied, and about twelve of the Assisted Living apartments are being lived in.
This means I get to see some of the tenants every day. I can't tell you how pleased I am about all of this. It's one thing to build something, and see people enjoy it. That part of my job is unique from many other jobs in that what I build is actually lived in and enjoyed for many years by people of all ages. But this project will be lived in and enjoyed by my favorite age group; the ancients. And that makes it even more special to me.
Not only that, but because we still have four or so months left until completion, I will be seeing many of these people on a daily basis. I already know several of them on a first name basis. People like Earl, who worked hard all of his life in a factory, saved his money and earned a good pension, and who has decided to rent the most expensive unit available at this point; not because he NEEDS the most expensive unit, only because he can. He feels comfortable with his late wealth, and he wants to splurge on himself a bit. You would be hard pressed to argue against his self-pampering if you knew him as I do. He is truly a wonderful ancient to be around, instantly accommodating and very hospitable.
Irene moved in several weeks ago. It was touch and go for Irene for a few weeks, but today, she is up and at 'em once again. Irene could have gone anywhere. She could have rented a floor of a Hilton Hotel, complete with nurse, had she so desired. But she chose Northland Lodge (the name of the place I am remodeling) because her daughter-in-law is the administrator of the nursing home, and Irene wanted to spend more time with her. Isn't that amazing?
Edith has a hard time seeing. She has Menacular degeneration in both eyes, and is all but blind as she wanders the halls. But she is trusting and friendly. If she gets lost, there is always someone around to help her find her way. The cutest thing about Edith is that when she is offered help, she takes the person's arm, holds onto it, and allows herself to be guided wherever she intended to go. I was honored to have Edith take my arm just last week, and we talked and talked as we found the place she had originally set out for. Imagine that! A carpenter getting to escort an sweet lady like Edith just because he happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Now I know there are many people who shy away from the ancients, for various reasons. For some, it might be too uncomfortable to be around age. For others, it's a lack of self-confidence, or something else entirely.
If you are someone who shies away from the ancients, don't be ashamed of it; you aren't alone. Maybe your view of them is skewed because of a bad experience, or maybe you just don't understand where they are coming from. Whatever the case may be, there is always hope. I would recommend everyone visiting nursing homes and assisted living facilities, or simply visiting Amelia who might live just down the road. You see, it's not so hard, once you realize that they are you twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years from now. And you are them, fifty, forty, thirty, or twenty years ago.
This world really is a small place, and people really are very much alike, even twenty-year-olds and eighty-five year olds have many things in common. But the one thing you can almost always get from an ancient is time. Our young friends are often simply too busy to be found. But the ancients, they are too wise to be too busy, and too smart to care that they aren't. They will almost always make time for you.