I have mentioned working with Engage As You Age before, and I am pleased to report that I am enjoying it very much. I have been placed with a spunky woman in her 70s confined to a motorized chair, D.
I find her incredibly inspiring.
One of my main tasks in working with D. is to help her learn to use her laptop computer. We work on email, and I teach her about things like Twitter, YouTube, Songza, Pandora, Mapquest, Wikipedia, Internet Movie Database (IMDB), Facebook, etc. When I arrive she always has a stack of articles clipped out of newspapers on things in which she's interested, and we set to work tracking them down.
As I've gotten to know D. better, we spend a greater and greater proportion of our time talking in addition to our computer use. She only offers little bits here and there about her life (and definitely doesn't want to talk about her injury), but really wants to hear anything I have to say about friends, work, travel, running, etc. We have a surprising amount in common. I love talking to her; she has a very sharp memory and a frequently sarcastic sense of humor.
What amazes me about D. the most is her outlook on life. She is in an assisted living facility in her motorized chair. She spends most of her time alone and has two windows through which to view the rest of the world--the house next to her facility. But she never shows me that she feels sorry for herself. She gathers things that she likes around her--scented oils, stuffed animals, flowers, small bird figurines, pretty calendars, pictures, quotes--and makes her home.
Yesterday, D. asked me to do her a favor and stop and purchase two single-use, disposable cameras for her. I was happy to do so, and when I brought them along with me she was absolutely thrilled. She interrupted our happy greeting to say, "Do you see any rainbows outside?" I peered out each one of her windows at the sky. It was raining lightly, and the sun was barely peeking through the clouds.
"Not yet," I told her, "but maybe if the sun comes out more we will."
We went back to talking about her cameras, and she asked me to get the pictures from two other cameras developed that she'd already used. I agreed, and said, "D., what do you take pictures of?"
"Rainbows," she said simply. "It was God's way of telling Noah that the rain was over, and his way of promising not to flood the land like that again. Seeing a rainbow is a sign we're doing something right."