Today we did the long trek to NH to see aunts and uncles in their 80's and 90's. There had been a number of changes since our last visit a few months ago. One uncle was admitted to a nursing home for back troubles which did not improve and his Alzheimer's worsened and it was determined that he probably would not be coming home. His wife has worsening eye sight and could not live without him, so she had to move to retirement housing, downsizing greatly.
So, it was hard to see the 95 year old aunt whose years of doll collections, needlepoint handiwork, beanie baby collection all had decorated her house for years, reduced to one room and all those things gone. Granted, she has a lovely room. She had her own furniture and it was decorated perfectly. She was happy and that's what counts. Right now I could not imagine myself reduced to one room--though at 95, what possessions do you need any more?
Next we were to visit her husband in the nursing home. She warned us that he probably wouldn't recognize us and that he had lost a lot of weight. Well, the latter was true, but mentally, he was just as we had last seen him. He recognized us and talked and talked. We have never seen the times when he lapses out of present day or doesn't recognize anyone. It almost feels like they made it up. It was hard to leave him in that depressing place--alone.
Last was my Uncle, the author. He talks so softly that you have to strain to hear. Some give up and feel that he is failing, but if you take the time to listen, you will know that he is still just as witty and a joy to be around. We had been to his nursing home, so we knew what to expect. His room is very depressing but the rest of the facility is okay.
Another Aunt who still lives in her home, was able to stop by the nursing home for a visit. She seemed to be doing well. I had been tasked by my cousin to give her a crash course in a cell phone--easier said than done since all cell phones are not the same. She took notes and could do it before we parted, but I wonder if she'll be able to do it tomorrow.
So, we had a nice visit with each person despite their surroundings. If we lived closer, we would visit them more often. I'm sure visits are the highlight of their days.
I look at the things surrounding me in my home--each bought or given to bring pleasure and then I imagine that one day it will all need to be gone. It sheds new light on what is really important. Looks like I need to start purging now. We had hoped to have a tag sale this spring anyway. I think I need to look with new eyes at my things. I hope I can keep this mindset as I start looking at each item and reminiscing. They are only things, after all. And boy, do I have things!
So, my advice today, if you have a friend or relative in a nursing home, go visit them and if you have lots of things--think about their true worth to you now.