My mother would have loved this woman. The place she lives looks very much like the cluster of apartments where my mother spent her last years. Each small unit was occupied by an older woman on her own. They knew each other’s habits. If Joyce (my mother) did not open her blinds by nine o’clock, her neighbours were checking on her. If Gertrude did not water her flowers by noon, she was cause for alarm.
In this sweet video from I Like Giving, a site I’ve just learned about (thank you, Kirsten McAlpine), 97-year-old Evelyn talks about her retirement community. They had a bus that gave people transportation and kept them connected. Then the bus service ended.
Evelyn’s neighbour Joyce (not my mother) was devastated. She was happy living in the community, but with no bus available, she was prepared to move and lose the social circle she had developed. Evelyn would have none of that so offered to drive her to shops.
Then Evelyn lost her license through some bureaucratic nonsense. She had no blemishes on her driving record, but someone decided she was just too old to be on the road.
Since driving Joyce and other residents around was one way she could still contribute, Evelyn decided to fight the decision. She took the required tests, got her license back, and resumed her service to the retirement community.
Evelyn understood one of the secrets of healthy aging: to look outward rather than focus only on herself. Giving service to her neighbours gave her life meaning. Driving Joyce and others was her path to joy.
One day Joyce will have to give up her keys. I hope when that happens one of her neighbours will take on the task. As for Joyce, I have a hunch she will always find ways to stay connected and be of service. When we reach the age of 100, may we all have a younger neighbour like Evelyn.