Volume 5, Issue 2 | February-March 2018 ISSN: 2395-2547
 

Inside the Box


Aging in a New Place
- Donal Mahoney

I can’t speak for other men but as I grow older I have found listening to my wife makes life easier.  

So when she said we should move to a retirement community while we’re still in reasonably good health, I balked at first but then wised up and said okay. 

Let me tell you, my wife was right. Nice apartment, three good meals a day, cable and internet access and other necessities and amenities included in one monthly price. Not cheap but it shouldn’t be, considering the quality and service rendered. 

At the start we've moved into "independent living," as they call it. 

We'll move into "assisted living" when we have trouble counting our pills and, when circumstances dictate, we’ll move into skilled nursing where the seriously ill find care.  

No one wants to leave terra firma but we all know, deep down, the choice and the timing are not ours. We’re fortunate to have found a place that has everything we might need while spending our last days—and may they be numerous!--on Earth.

At first I thought life in a retirement community would be boring. Not so, at least not for my wife and me. 

The first thing I noticed were signs of what the future may hold for us if we live long enough. Countless folks on canes, walkers and battery-operated scooters amiably making their way about. As someone still able to walk, I'm in the minority.

In the long hallways, little old ladies, and an occasional man, motor about on scooters. They have to be watched carefully. Otherwise, one might end up in skilled nursing sooner than expected.

The second thing I noticed was the joy evident in the residents, whatever their physical condition. Most of them seem happier than those I saw daily in civilian life. I did not think that would be the case.

My wife and I recently had dinner with a man 91 who has lived in the community for 17 years. He’s a retired engineer with all his marbles. Full of life and stories. And interested in hearing ours.

Folks with limited mobility, no matter what device they may be using to get around, stop and introduce themselves. They warmly welcome two relatively able-bodied people as if we are already one of them.

It’s a faith-based place but no one pushes religion down your throat and people of various faiths and perhaps none live here. 

If religion is important to a resident, there’s a daily Mass and a Protestant service during the week. One can attend any of them or none. No roll call is taken and no collection.

It’s interesting, though, to sit in the chapel and watch folks on scooters pull in and park wherever they like.

My wife and I are aging in a new place and learning something new every day. 

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, Public Republic (Bulgaria), Gloom Cupboard (U.K.), Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Black-Listed Magazine, Opium 2.0, Calliope Nerve, Haggard and Halloo, Rusty Truck, Pirene’s Fountain (Australia) and other publications.