“a long time to grow young”



November 23, 2007-After Thanksgiving, 2 AM

Yesterday was filled with thanks. The biggest moment, for me, was dining with Jonathan and Sarah on a delicious meal made by—taDA!—Jonathan. It was all the conventional things, which are our family tradition, cooked at his home by Jonathan and transported over to Orchard Creek. The staff here had set up a table in the meeting room downstairs, complete with tablecloths and cloth napkins, and the three of us had our own serene space to enjoy the food and each other. This was Jon’s first Thanksgiving dinner as cook, and the turkey especially was a triumph: moist and juicy as any my mother or I ever made.

Earlier he had said, “of COURSE I can cook dinner, Ma. What’s the problem? You pop the bird in the oven, pop a beer, and watch TV. “ This afternoon as he unpacks the turkey and stuffing, cranberries and green bean casserole, I say “Was this as easy as you thought it would be?”

“Well, no,” he admits. “The tough part is making it all come out at the same time.” And then, I think, packaging it all up and bringing it a couple of miles to your family….

O.C. maintained a high level of excitement and activity all day. Dinner was served at noon, and while I didn’t venture out of my room into the pandemonium, I could hear the chatter and laughter and see the children sliding down the wheel chair ramp outside my window, happy with the fresh snow. Many of the staff members came too, even though this was not a work day, and brought their families. Almost all the residents were excited—some were going home for a visit, others were having visitors sometime during the day. The hairdresser lady came yesterday, so many grey heads were in a high state of tightly curled fashion.

Of course, some didn’t have any visitors. Ed retired to Traverse City from Chicago, and has no children or other relatives. He doesn’t seem upset by this, but I notice he stayed in his room, preferring to eat in solitude in front of his tv set while the rest of the residents paraded down the hallway to the dining room at the end, a giant wave of mechanized devices—walkers, wheelchairs, canes. It’s always a high noise level here, too—a lot of hearing aids, some switched off, some with batteries that may have been dead for years. I wonder if I’ll remember to talk at a normal decibel level when I leave here…

Families and extended families were crowded in everywhere. Across the hall, Sven had a room full of grandchildren and children. And just down from Sven, Jean was visited by my friend Peter, who is committed to visiting his mother’s oldest friend. Peter stops by my room too this evening and leaves me a poem by Gwen Frostic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH23Sqb3Rvo). I reprint it here (ok, without permission):

“It takes a long time

To grow young

It takes


A sense of humor..

And a deep abiding

Interest in ideas

It means counting


…not years…

Reaching forever….




“And the turkey was this big…..”



One thought on ““a long time to grow young”

  1. Jude,
    your prose, observations, point of view, and ability to find humor in self are all priceless! Your words oftentimes bring tears to my eyes and certainly cause me to think about my own self, values, life path, etc. Thanks for being one of those few people in my life to make me truly think, and wonder, and question, and appreciate!
    loving hugs always!

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