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Regency Residents Give Hope

Some may say this is the worst time they have lived through. Some may say it's not that bad. I guess it all depends on the way we look at our lives and who surrounds us. Hello, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Wendy Meyer, and I work for ProHealth Care Regency Senior Communities where I am blessed to interact with our senior population on a daily basis. My title is Life Enrichment Director; however, I quickly discovered that I am one of the lucky ones, who gets to see life each day through the eyes of our beautiful and wise residents.

Working for a very large Independent and Assisted Senior Community, Regency Senior Community, I have the privilege of connecting every day with a variety of residents, staff and families. When I ask myself, "Do we have residents that are feeling sad or lonely?" I must answer; Yes, I am sure. We are human and no one likes to stand six feet apart from friends and loved ones. Do we have residents that say this is the worst thing they have ever been through? Well, I asked that exact question last week…

To my surprise, over and over again, I heard positive stories of strength, willpower and love that our residents survived through years and years of ups and downs. It was at that moment, instead of feeling sad or overwhelmed with our current situation, I saw hope. I saw a thriving community of beautiful men and women who have survived so much through their many years of this journey we all share together. I would like to share a few stories just from this past week. No names or room numbers will be given – but if they read this, they will recognize their own stories and many others will likely be able to relate from their own similar personal stories and experiences. My point is – so many people have gone through so much in their lifetime and it is rather humbling. For myself as a 47-year-old independent woman, I really haven’t seen or dealt with as much as I thought I once had. I am a student every day when I am surrounded by our residents. Our residents have traveled the world and lived in every corner of our country with a story to go with every picture. They have said goodbye to their loved ones. They have succeeded and failed many times. They have had many careers: nurses, teachers, engineers, locksmiths, plumbers, accountants, musicians, homemaker – (Does that word even exist anymore?) I am surrounded by the many faces and personalities. This is not to say, in any way, that what we are going through in 2020 is not a horrific time in history because we all know it is, but it is to show the pureness of how our senior population continues to thrive and live positively through each day even when times are dark. They deserve dignity and love and respect not only because they are human but because they have earned it.

This week I introduced myself to a new resident. We were in a common area, masks on and he was out scootering around after getting his mail. I had not seen him before so I always like to find out some background information. Sometimes I just jump into a question without always thinking the answer could be something I am not ready for; but if you know me, this is usually the chance I take. So sticking with the question, I asked if this was the worst time he has ever lived through. Without any hesitation, this gentleman told me he survived a car accident, where he lost three friends and his brother. He told me he was thrown from the car and laid in a ditch for hours until they found him. I felt like a jerk for even considering that I asked such a question. He shook his head and said simply said “No, this is not the worst time I have lived through.” I was speechless after his honesty and I even felt silly for suggesting such a comment when I knew nothing about his life. No one would know, having just met this man, the pain he carried through all these years. Yet, there he was sitting in front of me with a hopeful smile that shone through his eyes. He brought it all back to my original question, while being in our masks as we sat six feet apart. With a few words and a nod he gave me the feeling of – "We will all be ok." With a sweet smile, a little wink, he scooted away.

Another resident, who I connected with a few months back, told me how she raised her five children alone while her husband went off to war. She said that when he came back he was a different man - just never quite the same. Although he was happy to be home and loved their family dearly, he always seemed a bit distant. She knew things must have happened while he was away, but she never asked him and he never offered. She said she still wonders to this day what he saw, did or experienced but she trusted that if he wanted her to know, he would have shared. She said those years were extremely difficult and she would never want to relive those days again. She has been a widow for many years. She too, though, ended up offering me support – giving me the feeling –"We will all be ok." 

Lastly, I met two residents who seemed like they knew each other on a different level. They were goofing around and laughing while sitting by the fireplace. Their light-heartiness and laughter filled the hall. These two beautiful women shared with me that they have known each other for over 60 years. They met when they were just young girls and have remained friends throughout many weddings, babies and moves around the country – with many years of packing and unpacking. They have been through it all. They supported each other while saying goodbye to their loved ones. And it is here, at The Regency Senior Community, that they find themselves able to still find joy in their friendship. As they reminisced about all the fun they had throughout their lives, they too gave me the feeling –"We will all be ok."

Seeing, first hand, the beauty of lasting friendships, deep love and finding peace in pain was not the response I thought I would get. I was overwhelmed with their positive attitudes and outlook at what life still has to offer. I learned from these few encounters in just one day that we are blessed by all of our victories and failures. I thought to myself, if I would slow down and listen to their stories every day, what would I learn? Our seniors have an endless fountain of wisdom, strength and courage. They have been through all the ups and downs and they have forged forward. And yet through it all, they never give up. They comforted me with the same message –"We will all be ok!"

I plan on writing at least one article a month, maybe more, about the beauty that lies within us and within the walls of our wonderful senior community that we call home. It doesn’t matter if we are 5 or 95, we as a human race, want to live and rejoice in the celebrations of friendships, love and peace. I am enriched from their strength and character, their will and determination, their love and wisdom, and their endurance through 2020! As I have said before and I will keep saying –We got this Regency!

Written With Love,