When I started working at the retirement resort I thought I would get a lot of reading done. Yep. It was a “transition” job, in between none and no prospects. It has ended up being one of the best learning experiences for me – and humbling as well. The swing shift has always been my favorite because I get several hours of talking with people – a good social time for a mother who hears the words “poo-poo” and “no!” way too often – and several hours of solitude where I can read and write. The idea’s for my children’s books took root in the wee hours of darkness when I got so bored I thought I would dredge my green writing skills from the depths of my “no way is that possible” files. While I was etching out these stories, a few real ones played out in the fire lit lobby.
The residents who brought me endless laughter were Cliff and Paul. Cliff was a very classy man who liked to discuss politics and business. Respect followed him. His knowledge stopped at fashion when he donned the brighter than life green pleated shorts every summer. The contrast between his shorts and his pale legs was enough for any resident with failing vision to spot him in the clubhouse, the park, the sun…
Paul liked to talk about people and what screw-ups they were. All gossip was said with a grin – nothing was edited or glossed over for propriety’s sake. His world was black and white, including his t-shirts that illustrated his sarcasm.
Cliff and Paul liked to chit chat at my reception desk, often competing with each other for attention. If they were 50 years younger, I’m sure they would have approached each other from opposite sides of the tracks with tires spinning and a date for a fight.
But since life had weighed their legs heavy and stride slow, they decided a standing contest was in order. Standing contest. Whoever could stand up the longest won.
They started with grins and square (ish) shoulders, insults and jokes were thrown back and forth. I could see the energy waning as Paul leaned a shoulder against the supply closet. Cliff rested half a green-encased gluteus maximous on my desk. Shoulders slouched and trembles took over until Cliff announced his need to check on his apartment. Paul gloated as he collapsed onto his walker. It’s always the scrappy ones.
Donna and Odell taught me that passions never fade. They were best friends who always graced me with an evening of the latest gossip, dinner menu’s and stories of their youth. Donna laughed about her hair turning white in her 20’s and Odell told me about the wagon she traveled in as a child. They also loved to hang out in the lobby whenever the firefighters came to assist a paramedic team. Smiles as wide as the ambulance, eyes roaming over boots and logos. I’m sure I saw them drool over a tall mustached uniform more than once.
I could go on, but I won’t close without mentioning Bernita. She taught me that as long as a person is living and breathing, they have a purpose. She got locked into a prison of Alzheimer’s disease, forgetting the simplest tasks like dressing herself and asking for something as basic as a drink of water. But when someone needed encouragement, God’s word rolled off her tongue, as smooth as satin. One of her favorites:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Jeremiah 29:11
So despite my thoughts on having a job instead of a career, I learned that life flows with a force strong and lovely in the old as well as the young, in the healthy, in the sick, and with those who wear shorts that could be seen from the moon.
God doesn’t abandon His people. He works with you in whatever season you’re walking through. Bernita taught me that.
Learned something awesome when you thought you were stuck? Tell us in the comments.