My world just shrank! Like trying to get into a newly laundered pair of cheap jeans, I don’t quite fit.
Unlike shrinking pants, it’s more subtle. The losses are incremental and to a degree, intentional. At least I was consciously aware of what was happening. It went under the title of “downsizing,” generally lauded.
Treasures, many symbolic of significant happenings that helped mold who I am. Pictures of people “loved long since and lost awhile.” Dreams and failures, recognitions and disappointments, the good and the bad. Tossed, but hard to forget. It is a lesser person that fits into the newly acquired smaller space.
And the smaller space continues to make me a smaller person. There is less opportunity to grow through new contacts. I am tempted to get my haircuts at the in-house barber shop. I get my mail delivered which is easier, but less stimulating than going to the Post Office. It is more convenient and cheaper to eat in the dining room than go out for dinner.
Attending cultural events probably involves a trip in the rain and in the dark. My old friend, the public library, takes some effort and books will be delivered if I plan ahead. I miss my daily visits to Safeway, which randomly kept me in touch with the community of Florence. Friends drift away unacknowledged.
Our move to Shorewood Senior Living dramatizes our shrinking world. Everything is smaller and everyone is closer. I am not used to eating breakfast with a bunch of old people.
I must accept the fact that there are some things I cannot do, some things that I don’t need to do and some things I shouldn’t do. But it’s all right! I don’t determine my menu. But that’s all right! I associate with persons not of my own choosing. But that is okay.
Harriet and I do try to keep active, but it takes effort and energy and those, like space, are dwindling qualities and quantities. A nap is not sensitive to such promptings.
It is not just space that is disappearing; it’s control. In any case, at ninety-three, part of the solution is adjusting to aging and realizing that it is all right.
Not all residents share my feeling. For some Shorewood has brought a new sense of security and freedom that is reassuring to them and hopeful to me.
A generation ago, The British Broadcasting Company aired a comedy “Waiting for God”. Set in a retirement community, it portrayed two people who resisted being warehoused in that vacuum between living and dying. The program came to mind when we became part of Shorewood. We are a decreasing factor in the world’s equation. And that’s okay, if we are satisfied being human. That that is needful at any age.
About the author: Dick Smith, Minister and Community Leader
Dick and Harriet Smith have been part of the Florence, Oregon community for the past thirty years and recently moved to Shorewood Senior Living in August of this year. Dick has been involved in countless projects, businesses, and groups.
His mother taught him that if you have leadership ability it will be discovered. There is no need to push yourself into it or brag about yourself. Dick believes there is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.
Mr. Smith attended Yale University where he met his wife. They were both attending the Divinity school there. He is a retired Presbyterian minister and has been married to his sweetheart for 67 years. They say, “Life is good basically – we both agree on that.”
In 1992 Dick was nominated for the First Citizen award for Florence in recognition for his work and contribution to the many groups and businesses.
When asked for words of wisdom he said “I think the most important thing a person can learn is to give – of themselves and their resources. It brings more satisfaction and joy to a person.”