I remember the first day I worked for my Elders
– though I didn’t call them that then.
It was November 2009
And I remember feeling nervous.
Nervous that they wouldn’t like the lunch I had made…
Nervous that we wouldn’t find things to talk about…
Nervous that I wouldn’t be smart enough to hold a conversation with them…
I had met them in the Spring of 2008 while working on a landscape gardening crew – and we tended their beautiful perennial garden.
It’s funny to reflect on that nervousness now, because over time… week after week after week, their lives became a huge part of my life.
There was a kind of braiding together
Nervousness gave way to a sense of ease
They became my anchor.
Through changing homes, relationships, and a variety of other part-time jobs… They were my one steadiness.
I came to love them & their dog
They came to know me & my quirks
Their home became familiar territory
And as I look through the rooms
I’m reminded of them, of conversations, the many meals, hugs, mannerisms & habits I had the honor to witness & be a part of for the past almost 6 years.
“Would you like some black pepper?” I asked, lifting the pepper grinder
& was told early-on “fresh ground black pepper”
And so, at lunch, went the question: would you like some FRESH GROUND black pepper?
Nearly always, the reply was YES
Markers of time, reminders are everywhere
His chair where he sat
Her chair where she sat
The clock with large numbers, easier to read, marks the time after his surgery
A stuffed toy left on the floor, a moose chew toy belonging to Bentley, the ancient puppy
Pinching salt in a dish
The ubiquitous box of Kleenex
Wedding invitations from a grandchild
A pile of letters from another grandchild
Well-worn sweatshirts (which I feel compelled to wear, though I stop myself…)
There are numerous photos, the smell of cigars & cinnamon, and long-lived plants (a few which have stories told about them) like this Hoya now after 19 years, in bloom…
For this past week, my elder was home, surrounded by family, lovingly tended to, & there was only breathing…
And though I have no sense of what it was like for him during that time
(He stopped speaking at that point)
It was an honor to simply be with him
A sacred time
A slow unbraiding
Even now, sitting here, pausing now & again to look around & really take in the surroundings, a swirl from past moments floods my mind
& then coming present, that sense of honor… What an honor it is to have gotten to be in these dear people’s lives over time
We got to really know each other.
“We’re such lucky, lucky people” she would say.
There will likely be other posts reflecting on them, & my time working for them…
It’s all kinda fresh, still.