By Herman Sillas
We have finished another year and are moving on to face 2019. At the beginning of this New Year, we are optimistic. That is the way we start every year. We look forward to meeting the challenges. That is the way we treat life. We are ready to meet the new challenges.
However, this New Year, I have met a lot of persons who have reached many years, and they are perceived to be “real old folks.” They are no longer ready to meet all the new challenges that old age presents. They try to meet the challenges of old age, but the old body is worn out and not able to do all those things that it used to.
Part of the memory has left them, but some of it remains, and they need assistance in functioning as an individual. Some of these folks are sent to places where they will finish out their lives. Emerald Court is a Kisco Senior Living Community where old folks get assistance in living. They have a small apartment with a bed, bathroom, small kitchen and living room. The facility’s staff treats its occupants with great care and provide them with what they need to live and enjoy their life. They are provided three meals a day, prepared by cooks who provide excellent meals that are appropriate for persons dwelling at the facility.
The facility has a gymnasium filled with exercise equipment and offers classes that encourage them to paint and utilize their skills. Many of them exercise by walking outside in designated areas; others read the newspaper. Throughout the day, various activities are held by the staff that challenge the thinking of the occupants and cause them to reflect on their lives in the past. The stories of the past are shared with one another.
On a regular basis, the occupants gather for three meals and engage in conversations as they sit around tables. The guests gain the benefit of engaging with those seated at the tables. They help each other. One thing I have noticed is that the women outnumber the men in attendance. There are a few husband-and-wife couples, but they are limited. The vast number in attendance are widows whose husbands have passed on. The women are left alone and do the best they can to be available to their living children and grandchildren who visit them. They also share their stories about their husbands.
What has impressed me is the staff. They are a dedicated and committed group. From the cooks, waiters, support group and personnel in the facility, there is an underlying commitment to serve the guests who reside at the facility. Their desires are met on a daily basis. I have interviewed several employees and found a commitment to serve their guests. As Isabel Castillo, a seven-year employee of the facility, said, “I love old persons, and I enjoy serving them.”
I found that commitment throughout the staff, from the waiters to the janitors.
The guests at the facility get the benefit of the praise that older persons get from our society as a whole. As another employee told me, “Old folks are entitled to be served. They have served others during their lives.”
I met a 106-year-old widow. She can’t see me through her thick glasses, but she knew what she was talking to me about, and the employee she was talking to understood. I’m glad I met these folks. There is much I can learn from them. They each have a life story that needs to be told. They have raised children, been through wars and times of peace. Their stories need to be brought to light and educate the rest of us. That is the view from the Pier.
Herman Sillas is an author and a resident of San Clemente and a former U.S District Attorney. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org