Life, for those who are older or disabled, is not meant to merely survive.
Normal, everyday types of things like bathing and dressing can be more difficult for people living with the challenges brought by age or impairment. However, there are too many people who are just getting by day to day; people who have given up and turned sour towards living. They are the ones, sometimes self-imposed, who are denied happiness based on the challenges of their minds and/or bodies. There can be so much more to a day than eating, sleeping, and repeating, or at least there should be if anyone around gives a damn.
To this end, there once was an evil old woman, grown bitter from life. Her sightless eyes roved around in her evil head as she took the world in through sound and feel. She sat listening to soap operas and talk shows, preferring the ones where the contestants fought and speculated over which fine fellow might be the “baby daddy.” She was doing just this one day when there came knock at the door.
She groaned and ignored the tapping until it came again.
“Go ‘way,” she yelled, her voice was garbled and weak, not used to speaking during the day.
It was late in the afternoon, but she wore only a short nightgown and slippers. More knocking brought the old woman to pull herself up from her recliner with no small effort and she shuffled towards the door. The glass outer door was locked and the heavy inner door was left open to allow natural light into the normally darkened room.
“Who is it?” the old woman asked, standing behind the heavy inner door.
“Hi, I’m….” a young voice chirped just long enough for the old woman to guess who was on the other side of the glass door. Before the visitor could state her name, the old woman picked up her cane and used it like an extension of her arm. She slammed the inner door shut with the rubber tipped end of the cane and settled the matter.
The old woman smiled at her success and turned to shuffle back to her seat, when her daughter came into the room. She wore a purple track suit with long thick eyelashes and even longer braids, reaching her waist.
“Mama, who was that?” she asked suspiciously.
“Nobody,” the old woman replied innocently.
Her daughter gave the old woman a look that went unseen, and reopened the door.
A small woman stood on the steps with one arm hugging a clip board to her chest and the other arm was raised about the knock again. Mentally, the small woman was preparing for the worse: the release of Hell hounds, police intervention, a spray of bullets, or simply to be completely ignored and to have to explain to her Supervisor what happened and have to schedule another visit.
Much to her surprise, the door opened to reveal a younger woman.
“I’m Linda, please come in. She just accidentally shut the door on you.”
The small woman waiting outside laughed in understanding, “Of course, no problem. I’m Annie.”
Linda ushered Annie in and directed her to sit on a chair with a towel over the cushion. Annie cringed inwardly; towels on plush chairs were not good. They soaked up spills and accidents, covered stains and rips, and were often damp with God-knows-what.
The only other option was in the small space on the couch between Linda and her evil mother on the couch. Annie sat on the chair without arguing.
“Tell me what’s going on?” Annie asked after she extracted a pen from a deep coat-pocket and shuffled the papers on her clip board.
“She’s sits here all day, just like this,” Linda referenced how her mother was sitting. The old woman stared sightlessly down at the ground in shame.
Her daughter continued, “She might be blind, but she doesn’t have to be miserable. There are things she could do but chooses not to do.”
Linda gushed unrestrained; she was a newly sprung emotional geyser. She wanted her mother to hear these things. Actually, she wanted to shake her mother back into being the person she was before the world went dim for her. Linda was a grown woman with children of her own, but she still wanted, no needed, her mother.
The cold, hard edges around the old woman’s heart began to soften. She heard something in her daughter’s voice that stirred something in her chest, she was needed. A small flame, as small as the tip of a match, was lit.
“What do you want me to do?” she growled, cautiously.
“Mama, I want you to get out of this house and do something. I want you to stop feeling sorry for yourself,” her daughter explained.
Annie wisely sat back in her seat and felt something sharp poke her rear end, perhaps a rogue spring.
“I want you to do more than just exist,” Linda concluded her plea.
The old woman took in her daughter’s words like the ground soaks in rain after a summer drought.
“We could set you up with a day program with other older adults. They go on trips and have games, lunch is served at noon. You could go for a few days to see how you like it,” Annie suggested.
“Mama, do you want to try something like that?”
Annie continued, “I could even get transportation arranged.”
The old woman shrugged and turned to her daughter, “I’ll try it.”
Linda sat with her chin in her hands, “Let’s do it before she changes her mind.”
Annie rose to leave. She handed a few pieces of paper to Linda, “Here are directions to a few places to check out. Let me know which one you like and I’ll get her signed up.”
“I’ll leave out the front door. No need to get up,” Annie said and started for the door.
Linda stood, “Let me walk you out.”
Annie nodded and stepped outside with Linda close behind when a voice rang out from the dim room.
The old woman yelled, “G’bye,” and then a few seconds later, “Thank you.”