“What will I Do…?” By Henry Regehr
The old couple, still very much in love, were sitting on their sofa as I entered their home. They were holding hands as their story came out bit by bit. They had been lovers when he went off to war where, as sergeant, he led his company off the landing craft and onto Juno Beach. What was left of his group eventually followed the tanks in the breakthrough into France. The iron ring on his little finger indicated that he had, after the war, completed his profession training. After their marriage they had designed and built their beautiful home in which they had now lived for fifty-two years.
The walls, they said, were bare since they had already given their treasured artwork to their children and was now in cities across the country. Having raised their children, the wife had gone back to work as executive assistant in the manufacturing industry. They talked about their family, of the great success each of them had achieved, and of their grandchildren that they had visited every year. The piano showed that music had been part of their lives.
In the house that I could see, was evidence of their travels over the many years. They had clearly seen exotic places and brought back reminders of the continents they had visited.
They talked of the changes they had made themselves to their home as circumstances changed. The work had been done with skill and good taste, but illness had now rudely interrupted their lives. Parkinson’s had touched the woman and the man looked weak and somewhat frail. Clearly and crudely, change was coming to this formerly talented couple.
What were the plans, I wanted to know? The family doctor, whom they had known for some time, had asked them to consider a retirement home, they said. The children had been hinting at this for two years and had finally taken some action when both had several falls requiring calls for an ambulance. They were now about to move to the new facility where they were to share a room, have meals with strangers. It was a wrenching experience. Everything was changing. All the familiar things around the house were to be lost. All the traditional family events and celebrations would no longer be held. Their travel days were over. They would no longer be able have the children and grandchildren taking over the house for weekend and holiday visits. They would from now on be strangers in their own residence.
The old man, in tears, said, “But what will I do for a hammer and saw”?