Saturday, September 08, 2007

While There is Still Today

We have been visiting a local assisted living home on a regular basis the last month or so since my mother in law became a resident. I have found myself on a few occasions sitting around the living room there visiting with some of the residents. Growing to an old age is a natural phenomenon that I hope I get to experience. The only option is growing dead. I’ll take growing old.

I am intrigued with the conversations I’ve had with some of the residents. I think I am intrigued most with the human brain and how it works. Last night we sat for at least an hour visiting with a very nice and obviously very educated elderly lady.

She explained that she would soon be 83 and had been a resident at that facility only since last Saturday.

She was concerned about whether they had already had Pavarotti’s funeral. She went on to tell us that her mother actually heard the famous tenor Enrico Caruso in San Francisco in 1908. It was obvious her favorite tenor is Placido Domingo (pictured here) and she shivered every time she mentioned his name.

She definitely had my curiosity up and I discovered all kinds of things about this remarkable lady as I listened to her story. We heard all the very interesting details about her professional career as well as details about her beloved family and her church. She recalled detail after detail and I was so impressed with her ability to remember so much at her age. After 45 minutes of conversation my first clue that her memory was not perfect was when she could not remember the name of the book she was reading. A few minutes later she mentioned she was born in 1917. I immediately recognized that the birth date did not coincide with her almost 83 years of age she had told us earlier.

As we were leaving, Kathy and I discussed this remarkable lady and her incredible memory. I asked Kathy if she noticed she either had her age or her birth date wrong. She did notice and out of curiosity we stopped by the office on the way out and asked the lady in the office how long this lady had been a resident there. We found out she had been there not since “last Saturday” as the lady had explained to us but she had been there over a month.

The human brain is an amazing thing. I have no idea how it works. For someone at that age to have such an outgoing personality, to be so well spoken, able to recall all the details of the past and even to know Pavarotti had died the day before and to seem to have “feelings” for another famous tenor was very impressive to say the least.

And then to discover she didn’t know if she had been living in this facility for 6 days or a month and didn’t know if she was 82 or 90 just caused me to be in awe.

Being in the funeral business I have never lost focus that every day could be our last.

Last night I was reminded that you don’t have to die for that to happen. I left there with a new commitment to live every day to the fullest.

...while there is still today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Bruce--

Great blog. I've noticed in my dealings with the elderly that their long term memory is so vivid as compared to their short term memory being foggy......I have the same problem so guess I are getting elderly!!!!!Sue