A Day At The “Retirement Community”

It’s midnight — 12:00 a.m., or the witching hour.  Elsewhere in this world it is a different time, maybe sunset at the other end of the country, maybe sunrise to the east.  People in those places are doing something that is different from what is being done here and now.  In some individual places nearby the night shift has just settled in, geared up for work.  Some people are in bed asleep.  And, the bartender at the saloon has fleetingly thought about the key to lock the door, when the time comes for that.  In the apartment building, someone is in the laundry as it is a chance at the machines.  And, someone is taking the dog out for the last time. 

It’s 8:00 a.m.  The property manager just slipped into the office.  A construction worker outside is carrying equipment somewhere.  Daylight streams in through the windows while residents who were asleep at midnight drift outside to look at the morning in the outside world.  Nearby office workers are settled in, and since it is mid-month no one is rushing to pay a bill.  As has been said, someone will die today and someone else will be born.  And, someone may get married, be fired or get a job.  EMTs may or may not be here.  The media has presented its morning offering of yesterday’s news.  The dog’s up and eager for the day’s events. 

It’s 6:00 p.m.  People employed by the old folks’ home left, except for the maintenance that lives in the place on call for emergencies.  The residents have run their errands to the grocery, the doctor, the government offices, the bank or wherever else they need to go, and the television beckons, the bingo waits and the friend down the hall is outside watching the traffic on the bridge across the river.  Those not-so-well look to bed with a wish for a better tomorrow.  The homeless person downtown heads for a free meal, a mat for the night and more at the shelter eight blocks away.  It’ll take a while to walk it.  The would-be sophisticated look to the evening haunts.  Midnight comes soon. 

Some things can be a lot longer than they are…. 

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Death Comes Anywhere

Although death comes anywhere, some places are more likely than others.  The more likely places have the shock element missing.  It’s ordinary in places like a hospital; a likely place is an old folks’ home.  Even if the old folks’ home has many residents, it is not on a daily basis there is death, but it’s not particularly rare, either.  At times it’s after a hospital stay, but not always.  The coroner removes the body, the family removes the belongings and maintenance removes fixtures no longer usable.  Some cleaning and painting is done.  Management writes up a new lease for someone else to occupy the space usually without knowing what was there before. 

Basically, “old” is the state of not being able to keep up with current mainstream life.  It’s a variable number of years as some get old sooner than others and the mainstream is different from place to place.  And, the way life is supposed to go is that one drifts in a mainstream year after year until unable to keep up.  At that point ("old") one "retires" to the slower often more confused old age existence, what an old folks’ home is geared to handle.  Then one shifts to nursing home (maybe hospice), and only then to a funeral home.  At times things happen to cut short the sequence.  One goes straight from old folks’ home to funeral home.  And, people more or less take it in stride. 

A neighbor died.  She was a nice lady who didn’t bother anyone.  Indeed, it wasn’t too evident she was there. For about a year, it was a good guess she wouldn’t last much longer as one day an attendant was trying to get her to walk the hall with oxygen.  She was an old neighbor from the previous apartment, not a current one, but that’s recent.  The fact that she died wouldn’t have been known except there was a reason to go talk with people outside as the coroner was retrieving the body.  Some people went about things as if nothing happened.  It was rightful to wait a bit out of the way and follow the stretcher outside at a short distance and whisper good-by. 

People need to be remembered. 

The Big Story v. Big Headlines

"The Big Story" was the name of a regular, evening (home entertainment) radio series available to interested listeners more than a half of a century ago.  Although it told true stories, for some reason as is known it never became a staple offering on television as did numerous other radio series.  It was mostly the three big national networks not the locals presenting such things.  Logically The Big Story could have been carried over to the new media like other shows.  It may not have been as popular as some shows, or the production costs might have been too high to convert the idea to television.  To a degree there may even have been a shortage of what could be called a "big story." 

By definition a "big story" is a true story (news based) but not something especially of concern in the lives of millions of people like a declaration of war.  Neither is it like an exceptional event or discovery (moon shot, cancer cure) or other things people might immediately think spectacularly important or shocking.  Most often it has jeopardized both careers and companies (and sometimes lives) in a demanding bid for things like rightfulness or justice in a particular set of circumstances. Such has often involved an uncovering of "cover ups" with serious investigative reporting before that became that common claim in the industry.  Big stories change the course of life. 

Big stories have generally been worth Pulitzer prizes and a list of those is available at the Pulitzer organization.  There aren’t a lot of such prizes given out, just a few annual awards are given in different categories.  The point here is, nearly every day there are big headlines in some place, but that does not make the articles “big stories.”  Neither does the length of any of them.  It’s common to find magazine length articles about a thing of relatively minor importance offered as current important news.  They may  be interesting and informative, but they are not big stories.  Those just look to be exactly that.  Media reflects the owners to an extent, but people were once better informed. 

Communication is fundamental to society. 

Renovating The Old Folks’ Home

Things get old.  If it’s not alive, it also starts deteriorating the moment anyone starts to build it.  It’ll hold together and work for a time, but maintenance is perpetual as long as the thing is maintainable.  So, like everything else, the old folks’ home will need to be patched and parts have to be replaced and so forth.  The one underfoot is old enough that it’s a time when someone said, "This is still usable, but it needs an overhaul.”  As some of the windows leaked, it made sense to replace all of them with new ones and more all at once.  The place has been under reconstruction for six months somewhat inconveniencing this or that resident. 

Well along the way there one of the two elevators gave up the ghost.  So, in addition to what all was planned, new elevators need be put in, which, of course, is an additional expense.  Probably because cash flow is what it is, and because weather is what it is, the elevators will get attention after the outside work is done or mostly done.  One still works.  The first floor mostly doesn’t need one.  Some of the third floor (as well as the second floor) has decided it does not really need an elevator all of the time especially not when going down  The ninth floor, however, and the like finds an elevator useful.  These days the one that works can be crowded. 

The reason for bringing this up is that it is for an old folks’ home.  The people, too, are often in some degree of deterioration.  An announcement was made that plans are in the works to fix the locked down elevator in November.  Anyone living can be dead a moment later, but it seems more likely among the "retired" hobbling around on canes and in wheelchairs.  Hey, they thought they would nurse their ailments peaceably until the end came and serious inconvenience will continue until November.  So, what is to be done?  Look for another place to live at something like age seventy?  The matter is worth mention, as it’s something not normally expected. 

New things are developing all of the time.   

A Moving Experience

To begin with there was an actual moving from one apartment to another a month ago with disarray.  It happens maybe commonly.  No known survey exists on that.  Over the few weeks a few things did get straightened out, not as they were before but even in a better state.  The plants have more room, and the coffee maker is on firmer ground.  A lot’s a mess.  Piles of important and unimportant papers — like rent receipts, requests for donations and notices — are in worse piles.  The stuff’s rather everpresent not only physically, but also in mind.  These few weeks into it, there was a what might be called a disturbing dream rather than a nightmare. 

In the dream, in a peaceful time while on the floor sorting the papers, the door opened and a big woman complete with print dress and hat entered.  In a surprised state, she acted as if the place was hers, and what was someone else doing in it.  Told that was not the case, she became more agitated and didn’t seem to know where to go.  At that point she was told to check her lease and the dream ended.  “Life forms” abound; not just the houseplants are around.  There’s a "sitting place" of benches by the windows, insects, traffic from the neighbors in the hall and more.  Such thoughts floating around are likely (and there was no further attempt at interpreting). 

The thoughts that developed went something like this….  People  who needed to know were notified of the new location.  However, some of them, like a food delivery service, got things mixed up.  What it boiled down to is that people are identified by a variety of the elements around them, like a unique something they wear and where people find them.  Change some of it, and people sort of lose their footing.  Even the people who did the moving or changing of things can absent mindedly go back to the old place or the old ways where they find all is somewhat different.  People are really recalled as part of the things around them. 

Some things can make one feel very unimportant.