Beware: there’s poo in this post.
But before I get to that, a question: why is it that senior living complexes seem to not provide for the life of those who are meant to inhabit them?
Two weekends ago, I agreed to take some items to the home of one of my church mothers; her son-in-law, her ride to service and other places, was not feeling well, so she wasn’t coming out that day. She too had been a bit under it and had need of several items from the store, including bottled water.
My directions brought me close to her development.
She told me it was gated so I called her and as I did, a resident pulled up and activated the gate. I drove in and around but could not find her building. Turns out there was a reason for that.
I was in the wrong complex.
After putting the phone on speaker so I could drive and talk, I wandered until I found the correct complex. She was able to have one of the residents come to open the gate for me. Once inside, I asked the young lady where might be the best place to park and she replied, ‘Anywhere — the spots aren’t assigned’.
Of course, all that was a nice way to say ‘you won’t be parking anywhere close’.
Which brings me to my point. There were no parking lots close to the building where my church mom lives, nor was there any way to drive close to it. I parked in a spot where I could see her and she could see me. After hefting the two bags of goods plus the flat of bottled waters, I waddled to her building and climbed a flight (17 steps) of external stairs.
Yeah, it was warm out, of course. Hadn’t been all week.
I talked with her for a bit but my mind was on the parking lot and those stairs. No wonder she was always tired when she came to service! I don’t have the health issues she does and it was no walk in the park for me.
I left her to drive home. I decided to follow my instincts instead of the Google lady. I have a good sense of direction when it comes to driving and I generally knew where I was. It was a good adventure since I hadn’t been around that way in a long time.
Her complex, which was fairly new, was located behind some abandoned apartments that were fenced off and filled with tall grass. Several of the side roads leading into and out of the area were blocked off. I envisioned what it must look like at night out there … probably hard to believe it’s all just a short walk to one of the major thoroughfares in the city. Word has it that the abandoned apartments, built in the 1940s, became a local project to clean up the area. Local law enforcement has been active in addressing crime in the area, but there’s still a good bit to be done. Like everywhere.
I’ll be honest: it was creepy, driving out of there. I don’t know how older folks do it, especially when they can’t even park (or have someone park) close to their doors.
How does one grow older with grace when there are such issues?
More importantly, how does one cultivate the humility that growing older requires?
I got a notice in the mail that it was time for me to start regular colonoscopy exams. I was directed to get over to the lab at my doctor’s office and pick up a kit, with which I would collect a sample.
I was provided with a demonstration of how to collect the sample by the young lady at the desk. I was distracted, thinking of how flight staff on airplanes talk through the safety features of the plane.
Make sure the sample isn’t contaminated by toilet water or by touching anything; they give you this paper but it breaks, so the best thing to do is use a paper plate. Twist the cap off like this, then stick the end here into the stool sample. Swirl it around to be sure you’ve covered this bit, with the ridges, for a full sample.
Place it back in like so, twist it shut, wrap it in this, and put it in the bag.
Put the bag in this envelope and return it here within 24 hours of collection — don’t mail it.
Summation: she told me I had to poop on a plate and swirl a little stick in it.
Also, she should have known that I would plot all about how I was going to gather this um … sample.
I figured I’d put the biodegradable paper provided in the kit on top of the plate; I could then flush all that and toss the plate in the garbage, sans poo.
It was a brilliant plan but execution was something else entirely.
Oh, I got the sample — swirled it, packed it, and everything. My plan to use the plate and paper was also brilliant.
However, I haven’t washed my hands that much since changing diapers. I’ll just leave that right there. Those of you who’ve done this probably get my drift. For those of you who haven’t, you will. One day.
How do you plan for such a thing with humility and gratefulness? I know I mentioned grace earlier. That was purposeful: ‘gratefulness’.
I think of people I know who never got to live to be old enough to go through this.
I pray to be one of those people who gets to live a very long time but who is also self-sufficient. I can’t imagine having to ask anyone to help me do a test like this, much less help me take care of my daily sensitivities.
I don’t want to end up in a brand new senior complex that I can’t ever leave because I’m not able to walk to the car or down the stairs or because there are gates (which as we all know are more for keeping people in than out).
I pray to grow old with humility, gratefulness, and grace … if only the world will let me.