Lesson learned: I was reminded recently by Joan L., a client of mine, that “change is inevitable”. When change is initiated voluntarily, it is typically perceived positively. A new car, hairstyle or job are usually welcome changes that people look forward to. But for many of the 80 and 90 year old clients I serve, change can be a paralyzing concept. When a long standing routine is altered or a spouse dies, angst, confusion, stress and uncertainty often surface. This is also true when a move from one’s home of decades is eminent.
When Bertha W., my 90+ year old client was preparing for her move to a retirement community, she acquainted me with the poem below, written by Richard Wright. As I read it, it occurred to me that this poem could also apply to many of my clients who have and will transition from their homes to retirement communities. Perhaps it could be a beacon of hope for them as they ponder the uncertainty of the future.
I’ve modified the text within the parentheses to reflect my clients’ circumstances.
“I was leaving the South (my beloved home of decades)
to fling myself into the unknown . . .
I was taking a part of the South (my treasures, my photographs, my memories)
to transplant in alien soil (my new apartment in a retirement community),
to see if it (they) could grow differently,
if it (they) could drink of new and cool rains,
bend in strange winds,
respond to the warmth of other suns
and, perhaps, to bloom”