Monday Morning Musings

Posted on March 11, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with 3 comments


Living and dying.

I’m spending a lot of time lately at a local nursing home doing music. Some people think that I’m just scouting out a room when I reach an advanced age. I’m hoping that 67 doesn’t qualify as advanced!

I’m thrilled to have found something that keeps me engaged. A lot of retirees go into a deep funk when their work careers are over. They transition from being wanted and needed in the workplace to a life filled with free time. Some people have no trouble filling their hours with pursuits that they put on the back burner during their working lives. However, many others become sedentary and fill their days watching endless hours of television or surfing the net.

Living doesn’t just mean existing.

Dying is a little trickier. I’m not talking about sudden tragic deaths like the seven young Syrians who perished in a fire recently or a spate of deaths of young adults in my sphere in the past few years. These passings are incomprehensible and leave sadness in their wake for years to come.

Nursing homes are interesting places. My guess is that most of the residents in any given nursing home wouldn’t have chosen an institution to spend their golden years. But many families have discovered that a time comes when their loved one cannot properly be taken care of at home.

In my younger years, I thought a nursing home was a place to go and die but I have changed my tune during my many music sessions. Many elderly people have been robbed of their memory but not memories. They can still remember every word of a war era song. They can still put their fingers in warm soil and plant flowers. They can produce evocative pieces of art. The Tall and Small Café currently has an exhibit of paintings from the RK MacDonald Nursing home residents.

There’s still a lot of living going on.

And there’s dying.

Death awaits us all. I have opined on more than one occasion in this space about death and dying. I am no Elisabeth Kubler Ross. Lately I have had the privilege of sharing times with families whose loved ones are at the end of their earthly journey. There is no question that there is sadness but sprinkled among the tears is storytelling, laughter and music.

My preference would be to die in Las Vegas clutching the last loonie I own at the age of 99. But if I end up getting a bed in a nursing home and spend my final days there, I won’t be terribly disappointed. I know I will be surrounded by a competent and caring staff and hopefully family and friends who will take a few well pointed shots at me before I “slip the surly bonds of earth”.

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth- and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” Elisabeth Kubler Ross.


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