Thursday, November 22, 2007

Met The Sellers

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Truly there is so much for me to be thankful for this year. I said the same thing last year and the year before that. It is a long tradition in our family to consider ourselves blessed. It is an even longer tradition in my larger family of Christ followers to consider ourselves blessed. And on Thanksgiving it is a wonderful time to stop and think about the blessings and the God Who provided them.

Wednesday afternoon I met the owners of my hopefully soon-to-be home.

He was a kindly looking gentleman about my height. He seemed fit and could have passed for younger than his 86 years but not so many. His hair was gray and neatly trimmed and his clothing was business casual or better even though he was working inside the house. The overall impression was a gentleman in every sense of the word.

His wife was sitting in the corner and was so quiet I did not realize she was present until she spoke. She was much shorter but similarly dressed and equally self-possessed.

Gracious is the word that comes to my mind to describe this couple. Just very, very gracious.

I knew a bit about him from my Internet research. He had a difficult early life and had assumed responsibility for his mother and 3 siblings when only a young man, or an old boy more rightly stated. But he wasn't a boy for long nor were others of his generation back then. That was in North Carolina. In Oklahoma City he eventually became quite successful but certainly not overnight nor without ups and downs.

He asked me what I did for a living. I told him I had been taking care of my father who recently died and who had Alzheimer's. He told me he had Alzheimer's, too.

I felt a sickening shock of emotion hit me in the gut. I suspected they might be moving to an assisted living facility. And I wondered about Alzheimer's. Only natural given my recent experience to think that. The shower in the master bathroom had a hand held wand and a shower chair that made me wonder more.

That was all wondering though. But meeting someone like this in the very early stages of Alzheimer's who tells you he has been diagnosed is much different than wondering. I wasn't prepared.

I never had that experience with my dad. He never admitted to an infirmity of any sort let alone Alzheimer's. And he had few infirmities other than that one. I do not know if I wondered more because of the man's admission or because he has been diagnosed.

I covered quickly though.

It is amazing how much of an only possible future can rush before the eyes of the mind in a mere instant. It is not really the future but only the imagined future built from the experiences of my own near past and from the often read shared experiences of other caregivers.

I wanted to grab him around the neck and hug him. I wanted to weep. I wanted to yell and scream. That's what I wanted.

That's not what I did of course. I was calm. I told him he was doing really well. I told him I admired him and his home and what a pleasure it was to meet him. I told him how excited we were to have the opportunity to move into his home. His dignity and independence suddenly became of foremost importance to me and I struggled to keep things ordinary.

He told me about his history and about the landscaping he'd done just three years earlier and about how many wonderful years they'd had in this home. We knew many of the same people. It is a small world. And they're moving into an independent living facility for now. His wife emphasized the point. That it was independent living. I know the place, too. It is very upscale and it has various levels of care available as needed. It is a good choice I think if one has the means and ambition. Services offered include independent living, assisted living, nursing/rehabilitation care, Alzheimer's care, and short-term stays according to the web site.

His wife talked about how difficult it was to move into a place less than 1/2 the size of this one. They're giving a lot of stuff away to a local charity. There's a beautiful grandfather clock that's going to a grandson. The man said it was like living in a motel and looked wistfully again around the now nearly deserted dining room and living room.

There were objects here and there with little tags bearing a dollar value. I suppose they were from some prior sale. I wondered again to myself and this time it was about the idea of having someone else pick through the relics of one's life before it has ended. Maybe it is only like a garage or yard sale but I wondered if it would be different if one were moving to Independent Living. It has been difficult enough for those of us who have lost loved ones to go through their things. I wonder if it is more difficult if it is your own things? What to keep? What to give? What to destroy?

I wondered. Would I, if I made 86, have the fortitude to make such a move myself? Or would I ignore the inevitable and bury my head (so to speak)? Or would said head be buried for me?

We, there were four of us - my son and me and two more men - finally excused ourselves and moved to the garage. There we rather gleefully climbed into the attic and looked at the furnaces and hot water heater and the electric panel and the garage itself. Each man exclaimed "What a great garage!" upon entering the space. The Realtor joined us in time to hear the last exclamation and laughed that only men would first head for the garage of a new house and then spend so much time applauding its merits. Too funny really.

Then we spent more time walking around the yard and examining air conditioners and sprinkler heads and gates and walls and termite bait traps and stuff like that. We spent a long and uncomfortably cold few minutes discussing where the air conditioner units sat and how old those units were and what SEER they were and could I squeeze in the Generac from dad's house along beside them. And the landscaping required more cold minutes and we discovered piers had been dug and knew to look for cracks inside among other things.

Then we toured the home and I looked at space and imagined living there and my companions looked with more detachment at structure and status and other problem areas.

There are some problems and not all small. The official inspection will occur in one week.

I like these people and their house.

I am thankful I met them.


~Betsy said...

Oh Terry - what an experience meeting this man. I know just how you feel about wanting to explode with emotion, especially knowing what the future probably holds for him and his wife.

I'll keep them in my prayers.

steflovesnonna said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you as well Terry.

Lori1955 said...

wow, I think I would have just broken down and cried when he said he has AD. Just reading that gave me chills as I thought of his future.

Now I have to disagree with your realtor. I always head directly to the garage. They have always facinated me. The kitchen of course is second.

I hope things work out for you with this house after the inspection.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Terry.
I could feel the concern you had for the couple. It's sad knowing what they'll go through, but also very heartwarming that he has the fortitude to move into a place where he knows they will be cared for. The house sounds like a great fixer-upper. Not surprised at all that you headed to the garage.

dave said...

We have thought hard of selling, I understand both emotions.
Best to you.

nancy said...

i too felt so bad for this couple when you shared he had AD. it is not a bright future ahead of them.

let us know after the house inspection. sounds like a house you and judy could really enjoy.