Article – Living for this Day

Living for this Day

A Note from Jane, A Resident at Mountain Plaza Assisted Living

We’ve never met, although you’ve seen me or someone like me… busy thinking about your day or your life, as you walk down the street. I’m not busy anymore. I live just down the street in a home I love.   My family played and laughed here.  We cried here.  My husband died here. I now live alone here.  The neighborhood has changed and many of my friends are gone.  The children are grown with busy and successful lives of their own.  I am proud of my once full life and how I have lived it; however, something is missing.

I am alone too much.  I miss the sound of voices in the morning hurriedly discussing plans for the day.  Now, today feels so much like yesterday and the day before.  Sunday evenings were once family time, now Sunday afternoons are “alone” times.  I am alone just too much of the time.  My children call often and drop by but honestly, most of my days I am bored or longing for my old life.

Do people rediscover themselves at age 85?  I don’t feel 85 (whatever that is supposed to feel like) even though I need some help from time to time!  When I was younger, life was full of social connections as I went about raising a family, working and playing.  I miss being connected and most of all, I miss being needed.  I have friends, but getting together seems much more difficult somehow, and many are no longer here. My friends all put up the same brave front, but I’m thinking there is more to life than this for all of us.

I want more out of life and I want my life to have a little meaning.  I’ve always wanted to paint or sculpt, but there were always other distractions.  I love to read…and I do, but I want to have some fun too.  Is it too late for me to experience a sense of creativity; a sense of connecting to my interests and gifts in life?   Where do I start?  What are my choices?

A friend told me about an announcement she saw introducing a new residential retirement community in west Casper, Mountain Plaza Assisted Living.  I smiled when I saw the western style art and the caption stating “today is for living”.  Somehow the image reached me, I am from Wyoming and I love it here.  I like the idea that life can bloom for me too, at any age.  I am curious, and think I will call. I want to talk to them and know what “today is for living” means.

How different Mountain Plaza is from the other assisted living communities I’ve called.  I enjoyed talking with Brett, not only about my life, but his too – we connected.  Brett was so interested in me and I think he understands what I want from life.  We didn’t discuss apartments, prices or even the services Mountain Plaza offers.  We talked about me!  Brett was interested in my thoughts about life.  What I want to do with my future.  How I want to connect with people.  After we talked awhile I remembered him, he took my daughter’s wedding pictures!  He remembered I like painting.  How fun!  I scheduled a visit and was excited to see “this Brett” at Mountain Plaza.  He’s called a Family Relations Manager; does that mean he’ll help me talk to my son’s about how lonely I get sometimes?  I hope so.

When I visited Mountain Plaza, Brett was incredible!  We laughed and we talked endlessly. We talked openly about my future, and I learned a lot about Mountain Plaza, their services to help support my independence – I understand their vision of “today is for living”.  As I left I realized I have lived so many wonderful years in my home; but it just isn’t the same anymore.  I love that old house but I need more.  I hope the kids can let go of our life there.   Change can be hard but so is being stuck in life.  I’m ready to have some friends I can visit whenever I want.
Deciding to move is the hardest part – especially with all the memories. But, I need people in my life, not just the kids a couple times a week for a few hours. I like the idea that I am able to stay in the same neighborhood where I have lived for many years.  As I think about Mountain Plaza, I can see myself part of a community…  I find myself feeling excited about Mountain Plaza, as there will be so much to do, and so many ways I can reinvent or rediscover myself.  I have decided I am going to move to Mountain Plaza.  Now, there is something to look forward to!
My children are coming for a visit to see what I’m excited about.  Brett made arrangements for my son to meet the Encore Partner’s folks when he visited Denver on a recent business trip.  Do people really do business this way? … so warm, friendly and engaging, so understanding, and so personable?  I already feel my life has changed just having met these people.  In fact Ron’s vision of assisted living is founded on his passion to improve life as we age because of his life experiences with his grandmother Allena, whom he loved dearly.  He said Mountain Plaza is dedicated to his grandma, in her honor!

After all these years I am moving.  I am a little scared, but I am also so excited about the future.  I have met so many wonderful people at Mountain Plaza and I had no idea some of my friends are already living here too!  I am busy again.  There are so many things to do – our arts group is creating original pieces of art for the Wyoming State Fair – last year our community won a Blue Ribbon for a sculpture piece.    My daughter-in-law is helping me settle in so I can go on an excursion next week.  My children say I am behaving as if I were back in college! The move wasn’t bad – Brett and company helped me arrange every detail of the move, including letting my children set up the apartment early so moving day was simple for me.

Three very busy months have passed.  Mountain Plaza has really helped me reconnect to my life and the world around me.  I am meeting people from all over the country and from my own neighborhood.  I am having fun and wished I had moved to Mountain Plaza two years ago, think of the fun I have missed.  Life is a series of moments.  I often think of my husband, our children, and our years together in our family home and this community of Casper.  I love those years and nothing will ever change that.  When I was alone, my “home” became a “house” – filled with responsibilities – painting, repairing, weeding, mowing grass, snow shoveling, even changing the front porch light bulb became a major task.  I just couldn’t keep up and I was tired of asking the neighbors and my children for help.  And if I am honest with myself, I was bored.

My life is different now in so many ways.  I love helping tend the rose and herb garden.  I enjoy being in the theatre troop and the bridge tournament.  I was so proud of the art piece we created.   I have referred three of my friends to Mountain Plaza.  We laugh a lot these days.  I even think one of my friends cheats at cards!

My son gave me a cellphone for my 86th birthday – for some reason the children can’t seem to reach me at home anymore!  What are you doing today?