You’ve led a full life in a community where you paid your taxes. You’ve purchased over and over again in your community, spending your money at local businesses. You’ve had a family. Your own home. Your own house. Your own garden. A dog. Maybe a few. Some cats, despite that damn hair on the couch. You’ve listened to your TV in the background of coffee scents, a home cooked meal, popcorn your kids made, smelled bacon from a weekend breakfast, heard laughter, saw tears, did laundry, played board games and cards, had barbecues in the summer, shared a drink or two over some heated conversations, slept in a double bed with your honey, attended some weddings, some funerals, some graduations…. then, you got old.
You. Got. Old.
And, your ill health became… too much for your family to properly take care of you. Or maybe you had no family left. Or your kids were far away because there wasn’t enough to keep them on the Island.
And the hospital said, “you’re a level 4.”
If you lived in or near Montague, Prince Edward Island, that usually meant…. the “Manor”.
The Riverview Manor. The government run nursing home.
That place that was supposed to be new by now. That place where the workers’ hearts were in the right place but the building denied you any dignity.
You have no choice. You try to make the best of it so your family doesn’t worry.
But. You have knots in your stomach when they drive you up the hill.
You lay in your tiny bed, in your tiny pale green room with your dirty floor and wonder, “how did I get here?” You put on a smile for your friends who rarely visit because they can’t stand the smell or the depressing atmosphere, and for your family who grit their teeth and have their hearts broken every time they say good bye to you. Guilt follows them out of the building insisting that they could have done better and kept you at home.
You have a lot of time to think. And, think, you do. You think about that elusive new place that that government was supposed to build. Why it didn’t happen years ago when it was first promised? You wonder if you’ll live long enough to see it.
The ceiling tiles start falling. A cursory visit from the Premier and the MLA. Don’t they realize that the urgency to break ground on the new building has increased hugely? Oh. More promises. Next spring!
And, now, this: oil spilling near the furnace. Oil? Fuel? On the floor???
“Do we have to go up in flames before we get attention?” Is the government whispering, “Why bother, they’re going to die soon”? “It’s not a lucrative business”?
You wonder where those political men will go when they are old and can’t be taken care of. You wonder if they will have a comfortable space for their last days or years. You wonder if they have family who will be there. You wonder how they sleep at night.
You wish you could ask them to please help you and your fellow elders to have a pleasant last place they could call home, where family would linger longer because it was nice, but… you’re just too damn tired.
That’s why I continue to write from Vancouver. I can’t not. Let’s start to ask the question, what can we DO? How can we help our elders in Montague feel much better and safer?
(Oh.. and did I mention that I’ll be on PEI very soon?)