When lost, let yourself be found
“May I talk with you after supper?” she asked me.
“Of course,” I answered.
Though I had not yet fed the cats or the bird, I try to put the residents first.
When I knocked at her door, I could already hear soft sobs inside. She invited me in and I found this lovely lady in tears.
You see, she had only been here at Brookdale Littleton Assisted Living for three days. She left everything she loved and, at her family’s insistence, chose this community to live in. They told her there were staff on duty who were trained to tend to her needs.
That all sounded good. They tried, ahead of time, to furnish her apartment with her own things so she would feel secure, but here she was crying.
I took her hands in mine and listened as she told me how lonely and utterly lost she felt.
“Everyone has been helpful. The RAs have been so kind and have introduced me to some others and, oh, everything,” she sniffed and wiped her nose.
I said not a word, but my body language seemed to reassure her. When she sort of got hold of herself, I said, “I’d like to tell you a true story.”
She rearranged her shirt and brushed her silver hair back and sort of prepared to listen.
“I have been living here for almost three years,” I told her.
“I recall my family bringing me here that very first day. Beforehand, they had completely furnished and decorated the small apartment and it was really beautiful. They even started what later became my picture wall.
“But do you think I thanked them or even saw the love that went into making me happy? No! I burst into tears and told them it was entirely too small. I did not know one person here. So listen, I came here to make y’all happy but I am not staying!
“Isn’t that just awful? That was almost three years ago.
“I wish I could tell you that by day three, I had settled in, made friends and found the food good. I cannot. All I did was cry and feel lost. They even put me at the dining table with three men!
“Now the flip side of this story is it takes time to change your life completely.
“Very few of us did this in three days.
“But here’s what I have learned in this place — I see it like the game ‘Lost and Found.”’Not one of us is here because we think it is perfect. In fact, we each come here broken in one way or another. We have probably lost our home, our car, our privacy and our independence. Some have lost their mate, like me.
“We came here vulnerable and asking for help. I see us as lost. That means this place is the other side, the side that lets us find new interests, new joys, new friends.
“That, honey, is ‘Lost and Found.’
“I have come to love the residents and have made a few really close friends. I found new purpose for my life, which is vital.
“What has been lost has to be replaced or found. It is like they take care of our physical needs so we have time to explore new paths.
“You know what? When you are lost, you need someone to show you the way. It may be, indeed, will be very different from your old life, but just give it a chance.
“I found brand new interests here and so can you,” I finished.
Her tears had dried and she reached to hug me. I hugged her back. and when I left her apartment, I felt sure she would find her way in her new home.
The view from the mountains is wondrous.
Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.