By Elizabeth Russell | Bio
It is difficult not to notice that many people focus on their health—the latest visit to the doctor or the most recent medication. I realize that, at least in part, this is due to a shift in attention—away from a concern with family, community or the world and toward this body in which we dwell and which, at this time of life, would command all of our attention if we let it. It is also difficult to live in this environment and not be reminded, almost daily, of our mortality, as one after another of us leaves in an ambulance.
Those residents who work off-campus or who have computers and use e-mail and regularly access the Internet do seem to get outside of themselves a little more. The computer-users have been encouraging others to learn, but there’s a lot of resistance with people saying, “I’ve lived my life without a computer. Why do I need one now?” Those of us who are regular users of e-mail and the Internet haven’t yet found a way to communicate our excitement with the computer in such a way as to overcome this resistance, but we’re not giving up trying.
Just looking at people and wondering about them occupies me as I sit in the lobby waiting to be seated for dinner. One couple—he, tall, imposing, she standing not quite up to his shoulder—walk from one event to another always holding hands. I can only wonder, sadly, how one will cope when the other dies because, almost certainly, that event will be the first break in their lifetime togetherness.
There’s no way I could do justice to the neighbors with whom I live—a whole new set of neighbors, with whom I share laughter and tears. They come from different parts of the country and different parts of the world. They are Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists and, probably, some atheists. Many live independently and some are in assisted living quarters. There are many more women than men, as is evidenced at our once-a-month dances when most of the women sit in chairs at the edge of the dance floor watching the few couples dancing.
One of my neighbors—one I have had a chance to know—has just celebrated her 100th birthday and was honored by the entire community. As I think of her, I’m aware of how many others I’ve not met and whose stories I do not know but that is something that I look forward to remedying, knowing that I will continue to be amazed and grateful that I am in such a community. And, writing that, I have to smile as I recall the resistance I experienced to moving in three years ago.
© 2008 Elizabeth Goodell Russell. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with kind permission from The California Woman Magazine. This article first appeared in their July/August 2008 issue.