Sometimes you need to cut loose, help others do the same

Published 8:05 am Tuesday, January 9, 2018

For some 15 years, my parents lived at Abby Delray Life Care Facility in Delray Beach, Florida.

During most of that time, I lived in Kentucky and every few months I went to visit them. It was a great place for them to live with each resident having their own condo with two bedrooms, two baths, outdoor patio and even a beautiful pool. It was a three-story building with a first-class dining area and programs and activities every day.

Many of the programs were musical in nature and often they were after supper. When I was there we always attended those.

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One of the fondest memories of visiting them happened one night as we returned from an inspiring piano recital by a young man from New York. I remembered it being around 10 p.m. when it was over, which was unusually late for them to stay up. It was obvious during our walk back to their condo they were quite tired.

I cannot really explain what came over me on that walk back but something did.

We entered their building and started the long walk down to their condo, which was the last one on the hall. It was stone quiet as it always was by 10 p.m., but for some reason, I was overwhelmed with the desire to cut loose, to make some noise, to stir the aging pot and make my parents smile and laugh in spite of being tired.

I linked arms with mother on my right and daddy on my left and I began to sing at the top of my lungs, “Show me the way to go home.”

It felt crazy good, so good I began to imitate the walk of a drunk. And then, she, at 86, and he, at 90, picked it right up, walking sort of sideways, a gesture quite foreign to their common nature.

There we were, the Three Musketeers, falling all over ourselves, being rowdy and having a great time. Daddy really got into the swing of things and was laughing out loud. You never ever hear such as this at Abby Delray.

Actually, you would never hear such a thing out of my parents either, but something magical and wondrous happened that night and for a few moments, two old people transcended age, infirm, rules and worry about disturbing others and just lived in the moment with joy.

As we made our way down the hall weaving and signing loudly, doors began to open to investigate. First, residents were puzzled, but to the person soon there were smiles. A few stood in their doorway and sang with us but I remember one gentleman took up the song, stepped out of his condo, in his pajamas and joined us in our parade.

I was so moved to see spontaneous joy in the hallway of Abby Delray at 10 p.m. As I looked back I know I had witnessed older people who pushed away everything they thought and worried about and celebrated life together.

Every time I think about that night I smile all over. I ask myself, “Why not? So what if we act a bit crazy? So what if we get together with other people and start laughing at our ills and difficult life when we age? So what if we get lost on one of our joy rides one day? Maybe we should all start singing, ‘Show me the way to go home.’” Let’s try to find the joy every day.

The view from the mountain 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.