They came, two brothers from far away parts of the country, to check on their aging parents. They found them side by side lying in their bed - undernourished and very sick. After EMS and talking to strange doctors and filling out miles of forms, they looked at each other and knew it was time to make the decision for them. Living on their own was no longer an option.
Three other brothers consulted and the work of finding a place began. It was done with care and love. That was the easy part. Telling parents of a life-changing decision made on their behalf - that was far more difficult. Weakness made it easier. There are times when even those things we least desire are what is best.
So we all came to help my in-laws through the transition. Out of the hospital and into a strange, new place where the grounds were perfectly landscaped, dinner in the dining room required a jacket, and a nursing home stood at the ready. A lovely place where entertainment came to visit and games and crafts filled the afternoons, should one choose to participate.
Twice a year we gathered from across the country to spend time with them. It was a comfort to know they were so well taken care of. It was a comfort to see how neat and clean it all was. But there was something missing. I looked for it every time we came, but rarely did I find it.
Youth was a rare commodity in that pristine place. All the faces were beautiful, with that etching only time can create. But it seemed wrong to see all of a kind - with no variation. We were not meant to be so.
The beauty of those elderly faces is enhanced and illuminated when placed alongside the unlined faces of young men and women, little boys and girls, tiny babies cradled against wrinkled cheeks.
I walked those velvety smooth grounds for a few years, first beside my aging in-laws and then behind the wheelchair of only one and felt the emptiness.
(This is a photo of my mom and dad, before they passed away, with some of their great-grandchildren and the new great-great grand baby. Joy!)