Thursday, January 13, 2011


The first thing I noticed about living in a senior complex - and this has been true both in the Loma Linda Springs apartments and Country Village here in Mira Loma - is that people are always being carted off in an ambulance. It is very disconcerting, since in all the years I lived in ordinary houses in ordinary neighborhoods, I never laid eyes on an ambulance in our area. That was probably just luck of the draw - and perhaps that is what made it so downright discouraging for me to live in the midst of ailing and aging people. In the first year we lived in Mira Loma, the fellow in the apartment that adjoined ours on the east was taken to the hospital a couple of times, luckily to return but more incapacitated each time. The fellow in the apartment abutting ours on the west was carted off only once, and he died shortly thereafter. And a woman in the apartment across the street was in such fragile health from diabetes that the paramedics arrived weekly, sometimes leaving her at home and other times taking her to the hospital, at which time she screamed bloody murder not to take her. Within a few months she disappeared, whether she died or just moved to another place I don’t know.

Now mind you, Country Village is advertised as "resort living" for seniors over 55, the same nomenclature used at the Loma Linda complex too. Neither were in any way assisted living facilities. But I have to tell you that I see some pretty funny things going on here that I can't imagine seeing in the "under 55" world.

One day Jerry and I were having a small afternoon treat at our "Country Village” coffee shop when I saw a lady in the booth across and down a bit from ours licking her dessert plate. No, she wasn’t lapping at it like a dog would, or running her finger around it to catch all the melted ice cream. She was holding it up to her face and was licking every square inch of it with her tongue. I was horrified and revolted. She was a decent-looking lady, well groomed and alone. She was probably in her late 70s and obviously was able to function well enough mentally to dress herself appropriately and take herself to a restaurant. But licking a plate? My God! I wondered if her mother just didn't teach her that this was not polite thing to do, or if she was just senile.

In a grassy area out in front of our apartment is an old, unusable shuffle board court, with benches at each end where the players used to sit in between their turns on the court. Nowadays it is used only by people needing to rest a minute on their walk around the complex. A few days ago I heard some strange loud vocal noises outside, and when I looked to see what was happening, I spied a fairly substantial older woman coming down the walkway headed for one of the benches. She was wearing a headset and though I couldn’t see a Walkman I figured she must be singing along to some music in her ears that I couldn’t hear. She sat down with her back toward the apartments and began throwing her hands up in the air and singing “Hallelujah” rhythmically at the top of her lungs and then she launched into a gospel song with handclapping. The only thing was that she could not carry a tune. It sounded so funny that I had to quit looking at her so I wouldn't burst out laughing. After she sat for about 20 minutes, she resumed her walk, still singing away. You have to give her credit for having a cheerful spirit. As for a singing voice, she gets only an E for effort. As far as I was concerned she really made a spectacle of herself, but maybe that is just my repressed side’s interpretation.

Now this morning I was out early working in the garden. The rain and cold weather we’ve had recently is headed east and it was a lovely day to do some trimming. I had on my old Levi cut-offs (just above the knees), a tank top and a baseball cap. I also had on a pair of brown Crocs, which you all probably know are not the most beautiful of shoes. I know that I looked really stupid. There is no 75 year old that isn’t going to look ridiculous in that getup, even me. But I was going to get dirty, I knew, and I was going to work up a sweat. I decided I didn’t need to look like a Martha Stewart gardener. The concern I had was that I wanted to avoid leaning over with my backside pointed toward the street. I did not want that picture to be what people saw when they walked or drove by my apartment. Bad enough that I was bare-armed with baggy upper-arm skin hanging in plain sight. And my resolve to not wear shorts anymore, which came about because I happened to see the back of my legs in a 3-way mirror in a dressing room, apparently didn’t apply when I was gardening. After all, large rear end and varicose-veiny legs were not the way I wanted myself noted. Yet here I was, out in the open doing everything I said I wouldn't do -- and frankly, at the moment I didn't care. It was hot, I wanted to get the job done dressed as comfortably as I could, and the neighbors be darned.

So I ask myself, why is my gardening in shorts and a tank top any different than a lady licking her plate? Or singing in an off-key voice in front of God and everyone in the neighborhood? I suppose in the long run it really isn’t. Or at least I shouldn’t put myself in the position of deciding that one is probably senile and one probably just doesn’t give a damn! So I was reminded once again that I really am far more judgmental than I should be, and I resolve again to take it as easy on other people as I do on myself. I always laugh when I think of my very favorite bible verse that says, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” I have enough to take care of with myself without having to look for others to whip into shape, right?


marciamayo said...

Bobby, what a great story. I have to say that one of the things I like about getting older is doing what you want (as long as it doesn't hurt others) and what people think be damned. I do think the lady licking the plate was hurting others as it probably took appetites away, but you and the singing lady should be applauded for seizing the day. Well, maybe the singing lady shouldn't be applauded as we wouldn't want to have her think she should sing louder and more often.

Olga said...

I have to work to over ride my judgmental side, too. A friend of ours says he will never go to Florida because "everyone who goes there dies." I think he is in for a rude shock one day.

Dee said...

LOL. I am glad I read your post today. My husband and I are thinking about moving into the senior citizen section of an apartment complex this fall and our post will have me taking a deeper look into the move.:)