I am reminded, sitting here by the open window, listening to the rain pour down, of those lazy summers of my childhood spent at the cottage in Oliphant, loathing the rainy days because we couldn’t go outside, but enjoying them also because we would read and play endless rounds of “May I”, a rummy game we loved.
Today, Friday, one of my days off this week, feels just like that. Indolent, damp, sort of boring, maybe something interesting in the offing, no obligations. I think this is a good way for Fridays to feel.
In previous work lives, Fridays were sort of pressurized. All the work that needed to be cleaned up before the weekend began. Or, when I was working in the theatre, all the work that needed to be done to be administratively ready for the weekend’s shows. If I was lucky, I might get an hour at the end of the day to slip away and start enjoying the weekend, but that’s not the same as sitting by an open window, listening to the rain pour down.
I know our residents are sitting by their windows, some of them, watching the same rain. And I wonder if they are remembering their own childhood summers, remembering how the rain affected their days of… would it be indolence? Or were they working children, spending their summers on a farm or at other jobs? I know so little of who they were, only of what they’ve become as aging members of our society. I think they are remarkable people who contributed much, people Tom Brokaw famously calls “the greatest generation”. They have lived through so much, and now, as they are making their way through the last phase of their lives, sometimes with ease and zest, sometimes with pain and even anger, I find myself wondering where they have found, where they keep finding the courage and faith.
This work we do has many rewards, and it has huge drawbacks. Neither of us like the company for which we work; we are not corporate beings and find the dichotomy of a huge corporation trying to do such personal work more difficult, more surreal and more unpleasant (mostly for us, sometimes for the residents), than sometimes is bearable. And yet… and yet…
I think of my own coming aged years – coming sooner than I might wish to acknowledge. And I wonder, what will they be like? Will I need to live in a place like this? Will I be still have family and friends to make that life worthwhile? Will I want to have people like us be part of those aging years – helpful, considerate, kind souls who will make being 85 and 90 valuable, not useless.
I think about my own strength to do this work another day, another week. I think about the part of my heart that is gone forever with these people, and I think about the part of my brain that says, well, rude things about how it’s all run. I am not of the greatest generation. I don’t know that I have enough courage and faith. I do know that I have a wonderful partner in life & work, and that helps. We have made good friends of our two partners in work, and that also helps. But… but…
There are some very real pleasures in my work life, and there are many doubts as well. There are successes, but for every one of those, there are come two more challenges, and I’m not sure I want to climb those barriers any more. I have too many questions and not enough answers about not just next year, but even next month. I am not a person who deals well with doubt and uncertainty. I like formulating and carrying out plans. I like moving forward with successes. I do not find that with this job. I find only reminders of what still needs to be done, critical reminders and pleading inquiries – what next? who else?
I like sunshine. I don’t think as much on a sunny day. But like golf courses and swimming holes, sometimes you need a little rain to renew.
Enjoy your Friday….