Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Launching Pad

I am here in my home town to "be with my aunt" who is turning 91 on December 23rd. She lives at Cairnwood Village. This is a wonderful place for many people who have grown up in this church community or others like it around the world. In my little circle of friends and family we call Cairnwood Village "The launching pad" because so many of the people there are in their 80's and 90's and soon to be leaving this realm of the planet. The idea behind the building of Cairnwood Village was to help young families to be able to buy into the community so they could raise their children in the church community. So the older people 'got on the list' and when they were older than 60 sold their homes and moved into Cairnwood Village and the young people bought their homes and started their families. The system worked well for a long time. The waiting list for Cairnwood Village is long. Someone has to die for someone else to "get into the village" so the availability is a bit of a bittersweet proposition. I know that there are a number of people that are on the list now that would like my aunt's apt because it has two bedrooms and great window view.
The residents of Cairnwood Village eat together twice a week in a big dining room. A catering service comes in for this purpose and tickets are sold. People from the outlying community can purchase tickets as well and join the residents at these two meals. Sometimes programs are held after a meal. These are varied during the month but some are good old stand bys as well. There are movies, talks, bingo games, sing alongs and slideshows. These are excellent and so enjoyed by the residents of Cairnwood Village.

Many other community functions happen in Cairnwood Villages' dining room as well. Teas are often held here for visiting ministers and their wives when they come to town once a year. The older people love to have these ministers available and these are well attended by residents. Receptions after funerals used to be held in the choir hall of the church now often are held in Cairnwood Village so that many of the elders can attend with ease. Besides these days many of the memorial services held in the Cathedral are for former residents of this little launching pad community!
I have been coming to Cairnwood Village for over 20 years to visit my two aunts Joyce and Doreen Cooper. My aunt Joyce died 15 years ago and so I have been visiting Doreen there for the last 15 yrs and gotten to know many of the other residents there as well. When I walk in I can be assured of a  sweet welcome from many of the residents and interest in all that I am doing. They love to have me stop and talk and tell them about my travels and such. It opens up their world and it is refreshing for them because most of them can't or don't get out much anymore.
They used to have a program in the high school where "hours" were worked off cleaning bldgs in the school campus, then someone thought of the bright idea of having the girls come and read to the older people in Cairnwood Village or do something for them...a kind of community service. So the detention program wasn't so awful anymore and more of the kids actually enjoyed their times at Cairnwood Village making cookies, chatting up the old people, playing games and reading to them. I wish this was done more often as these people are so intersted in what all the kids are doing and they love sharing their memories with them as well. Its a good mix.
My aunt needs are mounting daily. She is reluctant to give up her independence and daily she is giving up one or more things and it is hard for her to do this cheerfully. She fights each one to the last minute and then gives up. It is sad to watch. The latest is that she needs someone to escort her to the two dinners each week. She gets confused once she is up there as to the ligisitics and protocol of the whole dinner. So my son now goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays to take her to dinner. She is secretly delighted with this and only complains now and then of needing a babysitter and how ridiculous this is, but she also holds a certain clout  with the other ladies of Cairnwood Village too because she has the preferred dinner companion. All the old ladies at Cairnwood Village vie for my sons attention. He is very popular and such a personable young man. He can entertain them all with ease and he seems to actually enjoy his little visits there too. He even stayed for Bingo last time.