This morning my family and I went to volunteer at Westminister Manor, a sweet retirement home here in Austin. We have been going regularly for over a year and it is so nice to witness the way each of us has evolved in our experience. I still remember how the first visit felt uncomfortable. We were there to spend time with people who had varied levels of emotional and physical capacity, many of whom had alzheimer’s and conditions that I could not even name.
Today I could see how each of us felt more comfortable in the presence of those at a stage of life that we have yet to experience. There was a palpable ease with the frailty inherent in life. My girls selected crafts, and, without my encouraging, took seats next to two women whom we have come to know. My husband and I mingled around the long table and spent time having conversation with both new and familiar residents. Most of these adults no longer have fine or even gross motor skills, and their thoughts eventually circle back to similar themes and questions. At one point, I sat back and watched as Sonia, Sophia and Herb were all beautifully in mid-conversation with different people.
Every visit I am inevitably moved by both the sweetness and fragility of life. As they share their stories, I often imagine how at some point these same people were in my shoes, in their forties, mid-life, more physically able. Taking time back further, they also were once innocent children running and playing like all children do, and somehow life has circled them back to that innocence in a way. Almost childlike, as they ask the same questions several times, their motor skills and physical capacities resembling that of a child learning how to color and walk. It is a beautiful and touching full circle we are all destined to navigate through.
Today I offer thanks to Francis, Barbara, Dr. Joe and Xline for allowing us to be a part of their day and equally that each of them have been a significant part of ours.