Almost 5 AM on my last morning at OC. In a few hours, I will go to breakfast, pack the last of my possessions here, and travel the 2 miles down the road to home.
Two miles: it will seem like two hundred. I am looking forward to freedom from 24 hour tv noise, and to my own food (bring on the yogurt and cottage cheese!) and watching the birds at the bird feeder. Most of all, though, my music: today I am going to spend time on the whistle, and tomorrow I think I can retrieve my hurdy gurdy from the glass storage case, and start to play it again, after so many months. I will have my dogs, and my cat who won’t believe her good luck at having a warm body to curl up with on the bed in the living room.
Yep. I will once again have those riches, and I will value them more than ever. But I will be bringing some personal riches to my life—call it the ‘legacy of Orchard Creek’. Most of all I have learned that there is a subset of wonderful people I never really knew existed: the caregivers who work here. They are patient beyond belief, well-trained, and skilled. From them I have learned patience and customer care. I’ve also learned a lot about aging and the courage that aging takes, as well as the self discipline of personal care and maintenance.
I’ve watched the community of people who care for the aged: sons and daughters, friends and spouses—spending every meal with the resident here at OC and participating in the recovery process as if it were their own. And I’ve shared in the journeys of my companions in patient living—their frustrations at failures and celebrations of small victories, and the everlasting optimism and faith which keeps them moving forward in the pursuit of health and independent living.
I’ve found new friends here…people who wouldn’t have enriched my life if I hadn’t chosen to come here. (My Dove chocolate thought: “Friendship is a gift in itself”). And I’ve come to value my old friends, too—the ones who have visited me, sent emails and cards, posted to this blog.
Thanks to you all. Leaving Orchard Creek is bittersweet—you will remain in my heart.
(Judith Lindenau: Judith@judithlindenau.com)