As published in the Savannah Morning News - 17 Sunday 2013
Friendship, an elixir for the soul.
During February, a month about love, I have focused on the advantages of moving on with your life and living life to the fullest. We talked about falling in love, and how putting yourself out there can allow it to happen. We addressed the unconditional love of a pet, and how that companionship is so valuable to seniors. In this article, I’m going to talk about friendship, and how easy it is to turn the page to a new exciting life.
My grandmother, Dorothy (she would NOT be called Grandma!), was 99 when she passed away. I remember her as a vibrant, fun, social woman, who had a full life and many friends. She lost my grandfather years earlier, but her friends were an all important part of her life, helping her through her mourning and filling the void left behind. Then, as her friends had either passed away or moved to be with family, Dorothy became depressed. I was sad for her, because this gal still had a lot of pep and vinegar, and no one to play with. We suggested she move to a continuing care retirement community, where she could meet people and age-in-place.
Dorothy wanted to stay in her home as long as she possibly could. Looking back, and knowing what I know now, that decision was a mistake. Over the years, the loneliness set in and depression pulled her into a deep, dark hole.
One day, the housekeeper called my father and warned him that my grandmother had been smoking in bed and the sheets had burn holes in them. It was time to make a change, so Dad moved Dorothy to a nice independent apartment in a continuing care retirement community. She missed her home for a while, but made friends quickly. She could still drive, so her convertible red Cadillac was frequently spotted around town, with Dorothy and her new friends having dinner, and, no doubt, getting into trouble.
Dorothy was the entertainment queen of the retirement community, and she had a ball with her new friends. Although she never remarried, she had the companionship of a special guy who sported a hat and ascot, and reminded me of my grandpa. She would take her new friends out in the Caddy and as usual, was the life of the party. When she started getting lost in a town in which she had lived her whole life, and with a car full of the residents, Dad suggested it was time to take the keys away.
Well, as you can guess, Dorothy would have no part of it. She loved that red Caddy and whether she could drive or not, that car was staying. Eventually, Dad took the battery out of the car, with management’s blessing, and left it in the parking lot so she could visit her beloved Caddy. We were all relieved that Dorothy and her friends were now safe, and they were frequently seen sitting in the car with the top down, having a cocktail party! (I could swear they made a movie about this!)
Memories of Dorothy make me smile and I could write a book about her escapades. She lived life to the fullest, and always inspired me and my family to do the same. As I assist seniors that are in the same situation as my grandmother, I tell them Dorothy’s story…moving forward made all the difference. You have to know that there are more adventures ahead; it’s not the end of the road. The rest of your life is ever so precious, so be bold, take the next step, and make it happen! You’ll be glad you did!
This concludes my tribute to love this month. Next week in Moving Mom…Choosing the Right 2 Home for Retirement! Stay tuned!