The Mansion Halloween party was a hoot, and it was revealing as well. Walking the halls of the Mansion, I felt myself crossing the boundary between the world of assisted care and the world beyond.
It was touching, poignant and at times, funny. The residents at the Mansion live in their own sometimes isolated world – the rest of the world has more or less abandoned them and run away from them.
The party excited them, as they often get excited when the outside world intrudes and connects and they discover they are not forgotten. It is a stimulating thing for them.
Peggie, the happiest resident of the Mansion most days, looked glum. “Is anything wrong?,” I asked. She said she heard I might be moving to New Mexico, and I said this was not true. She said she missed her family sometimes, and her life with them.
It is like that in the Mansion, moods change, they rise and fall. Memories come rushing back sometimes, and then they just melt away sometimes.
As I walked out of the great room where the party was, I ran into Joan who grabbed my arm and said, “I can’t remember where my room is.” Would you like some help?, I asked. “Yes, I would, thank you,” she said, and she took my arm and we walked down the stairs to her room.
The room was bare of belongings or pictures or paintings, Joan believes she is going home every morning, so she packs up all of her belongings. The rest of the day, she forgets she is going home and walks the halls of the Mansion.
I brought some paintings to her room to hang on the wall, but she packed them up and wrapped them, and stacked them against the wall, she said she was going to take them home the next morning. The staff told me not to give her anything that she could pack.
I congratulated another resident I ran into on winning an aware for good costume, and she said she was eager to show her award to her husband, he just loves Halloween, she said.
She would show him at dinner. She did not recall writing a story for me about her husband a few months ago, he died 20 years ago. I did not remind her or correct her, of course.
It was the Halloween Party, I am sure, that sent her back in time. She loved it.
When I brought Joan down to her room, I ran into John downstairs, he is a tall man of many moods. Sometimes he wants to see Red, sometimes he doesn’t.
He grabbed my arm and welcomed me back, he said he was worried that I might have encountered some terrorists in New Mexico. “Did the terrorists try to hurt you?,” he asked.
No, I said, don’t worry. I didn’t see any terrorists in New Mexico.
In the Mansion, the world is like a tide, sometimes it trickles or flows inside, sometimes it recedes beyond reach or sight. It is always there, ebbing and flowing, and the thing is to ride along with the tide, wherever it goes.
It feels good to love.