Monday, May 11, 2015

An Unforgettable Love

When my mom moved into the assisted living facility, we became aware of Roland. He sits at the same corner table at dinner with his daughter. He is mostly deaf and mostly blind. He doesn't talk much to anyone but his daughter, and that's to convey his likes or dislikes about the food on his plate. He is wheeled into the dining room in his wheelchair and helped on to the upholstered booth bench. After he has eaten, he's wheeled out. That's how it looked to us the first two years my mom was there.

We always talk to his daughter when we are visiting. She is incredibly kind to my mother, calls her everyday to say when she and Roland are rolling into the restaurant. My mom started eating with them most nights this past year, when her dinner mate moved to a different facility. We're always very glad for Linda's presence. She is a wonderful caregiver and a role model of loving daughter.
Last year when Roger and I moved to Humboldt County, Linda told the news to her dad. He loved knowing that we were here on the north coast of California. It made him want to come over and tell us some stories on the way out of the restaurant.  Turns out this area was one of his favorite places to take the family camping when everyone was much younger. He wanted to tell us about his favorite camp sites and where he hiked and what he photographed.
Oh yes, Roland loved to take photos of the north coast years and years ago. He wanted us to come to his room and see his beloved photos. He wanted to tell us how to hike to a particular spot in southern Oregon where a certain view of the ocean had a certain branch that he loved. This quiet man was absolutely animated by this love.
When we were visiting this last time, we did go to Roland's room to see his photos. Everywhere there were beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, those stunning vistas from mountainous overlooks. He was so happy we were looking at these photos. We were so happy to finally see them.

He told us, "I want to write an article someday about Homo Sapiens." We said, "You do? Why?" He replied, "Because I think we're going to go the way of dinosaurs and the Dodo bird." Oh wow, we totally agreed. We wanted him to tell us why he thought this, but he was tired and getting ready for bed.
We never did get to ask him about the article he wants to write. His lovely daughter scanned copies and printed these photos and gave them to us (which I scanned again to put in this post). We were so utterly grateful. He let us take his picture on his way out of the restaurant, but he was quiet again. We left town the next day and headed north to his beloved redwood coast. We said hello to the mountains and ocean for you, Roland. They remember you too!

17 comments:

  1. Oh, I love this post.

    As long as we can see, in our minds, the places we love so dearly, they are truly always with us. A good reminder. Thanks so much to you and Roland and Roland's daughter!

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  2. This makes my heart ache. Such fragility of memories for the old ones...

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  3. The spirit of those in such facilities in amazing. I remember when my husband's mom was and one guy had been a prof at a university. They had forced him to retire in his 90s. He hadn't lost his spunk. He died one day on his way to the nearby mall. He never gave up.

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  4. Well, my eyes just got a good morning washing.
    So beautiful--both the story and Roland's stunning photography. Love of the land sustains the soul. May we all have such memories for all our days on this earth.

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  5. It really is a moving story. I think it captures the human condition, which, we seem to forget, includes the latter years of life.

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  6. am-- Really so glad you liked this post. Yes, we keep what we love alive in our hearts.

    isabelita-- We were quite moved that Roland wanted to share this spark of love with us. There are some longings that last a lifetime.

    Rain-- I love that story. If I ever get to be in my 90s, I would like to have such an enthusiasm for life.

    CCorax-- Yes, loving something this beautiful and remembering it does sustain the soul. We were glad that Roland wanted to share this with us.

    Mark-- We were struck by Roland's deep affection for a land he had not seen in a very long time. I wish we could have transported him there, so he could feel it once again.

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  7. this post fills my heart with love and wonder. how thrilling to watch this quiet man light up. Ah, there's big life in there! What beautiful exchanges, Robin, and thank you for bringing the love to your readers.

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  8. Too many walk past people like Roland in an assisted living atmosphere and don't realize that so much about their lives would amaze. He sounds like a very interesting man. Bless you, your mom and Roger for taking the time to see and to listen.

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  9. Lovely post, Robin. Such a shame that so many older folks are overlooked when they have so much to share. So glad you were able to listen and share Roland's love.

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  10. Tara-- We were so happy to have stirred his memories like this. To know that he still remembers and loves a particular tree is heartening to those of us who have similar loves.

    Arkansas Patti-- It's so true, how easily we can overlook one person in a facility like this. Each one has a story, a love, and a longing.

    NCmountainwoman-- We were so happy that our move reminded him of places he still loves so much. His enthusiasm is pretty grand.

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  11. Wonderfully written, Robin. It reminds me that already there are memories of people and places as well as sounds and aromas that seem indelible in my mind.

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  12. All those sighs, whispers, and dreams we leave in the faint trail of our lives, become so vivid, colorful and passionate when we tell the stories. Thanks for this beautiful post.

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  13. Aubrey-- Yes, exactly! I feel that way too and sense the things I will feel wistful about if I ever live to be 94.

    MandT-- Your comment reminds me of a book title that I have always loved: Writing Down The Bones. The words written and spoken that evoke the faint trail of our lives.

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  14. Love the post, Robin Andrea. It's a good thing you made some connections with Roland about his coastal trips a few years ago, so that you (and he) were primed for your visit to see his images. I wonder why HE thought humans were going the way of the Dodo and dinosaurs? Pretty perceptive, huh?

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  15. Scott-- So glad you liked this post. Yes, Roland is pretty perceptive about the future. Sure wish we could have found out what made him feel the way he does about it.

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  16. What a delightful and moving story!

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  17. Linda-- Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it so much. Glad you liked this story.

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