An elderly lady explores her options in her journey through the golden years
Agnes Collins walked with difficulty through the front door and lowered herself slowly into the comfy chair on the porch of the old farmhouse that had been her home for so many years. Her back was slightly bent and her hands gnarled but all in all she didn’t look like a 93-year-old woman.
It was a warm day Agnes, and she had brought out a pitcher of lemonade and glasses earlier and set them on the small patio table beside her chair. She poured herself a glass and looked around the front yard. Crocuses, daffodils, and tulips, had sprung up in the flower beds creating an explosion of colour. A fat robin strutted across the lawn looking for worms and bugs. In early spring she always felt blessed by the beauty that that sprung from the earth.
Oliver, her husband, had tried to keep the place in good repair, so he had switched over to electric heating, bought the best appliances, electric stove, and washer and dryer to make life easier for her. Was it yesterday or 40 years ago? Sometimes it felt like yesterday.
A tear rolled down her face, a face that was etched with wrinkles. Oliver. Five years ago today a lovely man with a heart as pure as gold, a smile and hello to everyone was taken to be with the angels. She had struggled along without him but she missed him so much.
Yes, I made it through another long, cruel winter, but now an important decision needs to be made, she thought. She hadn’t slept well the past few nights, thinking of how she might be able to make it work, but in her heart she knew she couldn’t stay here another winter.
As a slight breeze rustled the fresh green leaves, she sighed deeply, and tucked a stray wisp of silver hair back in place.
She heard the crunch of tires as a car came up the dusty lane. Rick Davis, the mailman, got out of his truck and climbed the three steps to the porch. “Good morning Agnes, he said, “I brought your mail.”
“Set it on the table, please. “ Rick was one of the few people she saw on a daily basis, and he always made time for a chat.
“You’re looking’ pensive this morning Agnes.” He sank down in the other chair and poured himself some lemonade.
Agnes studied the young man who always looked so trim in his postal worker's uniform. Rick was always clean shaven, and his short brown hair neatly combed.
“I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.” Agnes said. She looked into his concerned blue eyes, thinking there was something about him that reminded her of Oliver. He was easy to talk to and always seemed to be genuinely interested in what she had to say.
“Well, I’m thinking of selling the farm,” she began with a slight hesitation in her voice.
“It makes no sense for me to be wandering around in this big house, at my age.”
Rick nodded sympathetically knowing she needed to talk.
“When we were raising our family five bedrooms was a good idea, but I can’t climb those blasted stairs and have moved my sleeping quarters to the big front parlour downstairs. “
“Have you thought about where you will go?” Rick asked gently. Will you move in with one of your sons?”
“They are scattered across the country and all have lives of their own. They’re all retired now. I don’t want to be a burden. I know they love me, but if one of them took me in I would be changing his lifestyle. Now is the time they should be traveling and enjoying life. Besides, I have lived in this area all my life and I don’t want to pull up roots now.”
“Have you considered any other options?”
Agnes laughed ruefully, “I guess it will be off to the old folk’s home for me in the fall.”
She sat on the porch a while longer after Rick left. Talking with him had helped her make her decision. Her mind was made up, she would put the farm on the market and over the summer she would work toward the goal of moving into a senior residence in the fall.
It was obvious that she would need to hire someone to help her sort through her possessions and decide what to do with them. She would hire someone young and full of life she thought. There were not many opportunities to socialize in the country. The friends and neighbours she’d once had, either moved away to be with their children, were in a senior residence, or had passed away.
Maybe she could find a young person who needed employment over the summer, to live in. Since she had made her decision she felt lighthearted and a smile lit up her face. She had been feeling isolated, but this seemed like a wonderful solution. There were plenty of things she could do by herself until she found someone to help out.
Agnes went back in the house and puttered around in the kitchen. She looked around at the clutter that had collected over the years. Weeding out a lifetime of possessions was going to be difficult, but it would have to be done. Yes, she would start in the kitchen, she thought. She looked at her collection of salt and pepper shakers, she had well over a hundred. Some were antiques from 18th and 19th century England passed down to her by her grandmother and some were cute novelty pairs like kittens, roosters, and even cobs of corn.
Agnes felt so much better after Amy moved in. She was slim and full of energy, cheerful, and good company.
First of all, Agnes told Amy to choose a room for the summer, and then everything was taken out except the furniture and Amy’s things moved in.
They spent their mornings on the front porch with coffee or lemonade. Agnes noted that Ricky was staying a little longer for their morning chats. There was usually something in the mail for Amy so he was there most every day.
In the afternoons Ricky stopped by after his mail run and helped with packing boxes and cleaning. Armed with boxes marked for goodwill, garbage, and keepers, the upstairs was soon as neat as a pin. With everything vacuumed, floors and windows washed, they were ready to move to the downstairs
Agnes had been living alone and feeling lonely for a long time. It did her old heart good to have these two young people around filling the house with laughter. Sometimes she wasn’t sure what they were on about, Agnes wasn’t up to date on things, and used old terms whose meanings had changed, and so she was sometimes a bit confused listening to their conversations.
One day as summer was slipping away, Amy and Ricky accompanied Agnes to check out a local senior residence.
The outside of the residence was beautifully maintained with lawns, flower beds, and swings. It was a peaceful atmosphere, and Agnes thought she might enjoy sitting in one of the swings.
“Look at this, Agnes,” Rick said cheerfully. “There are activities, a hair salon, and parking available for when Amy and I come to visit.”
As they took the tour of the inside of the building, Jenny, the staff member who was showing them around, explained that there was 24-hour emergency assistance, a security door system, sprinklers, and smoke detectors. Rick nodded his head in approval.
Jenny led them through the open lobby and lovely lounge where an elderly man was playing the piano with a group of residents gathered around singing songs that Agnes remembered from her youth.
The main dining room was next and Jenny assured them that delicious meals
were served there. Agnes liked the home-like dining room, and Jenny told her guests were invited to share meals with the residents. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served daily and there was a complimentary tray service during illness.
Amy gasped as they were led to the suite where Agnes would live should she choose to stay. The suite was a comfortable living space, beautifully furnished, with an ensuite bathroom, and a lovely view.
“Agnes, this is beautiful,” Amy said in awe.
Agnes nodded her head in agreement. She thought she would be happy here, and perhaps most importantly, she could make new friends, and not be lonely.
With help from Amy and Rick, Agnes signed the papers to lease the suite, and settled on a date to move in. The decision was easy to make, and money was no object, Oliver had left her well provided for, and the sale of the farm would see her through.
After leaving the senior residence, they stopped at an elegant restaurant to have dinner and celebrate. A waitress led them to their table, and Rick courteously helped Agnes into her seat.
Agnes beamed at the young couple reflecting how they looked right together. Maybe a lot of good will come out of this move, she thought.
“I propose a toast,” Rick said, “To Agnes, a lady whose beauty springs from her heart and soul. May she have many more years of life and love.”
Agnes raised her glass, “To love.” She chuckled as Amy and Rick’s eyes met.