October Thoughts…

Heather Johansen

Autumn is by far my favorite time of year. In particular, the month of October is absolutely divine. The leaves are turning, the air has a bit of a bite, the night sky seems deeper and richer, and, of course, Halloween!
When I was little, my grandparents lived in a large brick house on one of main streets in my little hometown. Each Halloween, my Gramma would decorate and encourage the trick-or-treaters to parade into the living room and show off their frightful best. I, as a tot, was perpetually terrified by this display. Even if I knew the faces behind the masks, I felt a looming edge of uncertainty as they gallantly waltzed into my grandparents’ living room.
Many October Moons later, my Grandpa died and my Gramma’s health was withering. She downsized to small house not far from the brick one of my childhood. Although she had mobility challenges and could no longer drive, she still meticulously gathered her Halloween candy, ensuring her trick-or-treaters would not go away disappointed. I spent a few of those Halloweens with her. I was “her legs” and would get up to answer the door and invite the kiddos into her sweet gramma lair. Kids and their parents would filter in so she could get a look at them. Parents usually remembered coming up to the brick house when they were little. It was a full-circle moment and Gramma relished every minute of it!
One particular year she ran out of candy. As I started to close the front door and darken the porch light, Gramma told me to go in and get the rolls of quarters she had stashed just for such an emergency. The next round of little goblins and ghouls each received 50 cents, which to them seemed pretty awesome. Gramma was always prepared…and we thought we were.
Then came the October when the porch light stayed dark.
Gramma’s health became fragile and skilled care was needed round the clock. She was no longer able to stay at home. She moved into a skilled care unit and eventually the little house was sold. No more trick-or-treat parades; no more bowls of candy perched by the front porch door.
When my Gramma was home she received home-delivered meals from her local senior center. (She would even make up small trick-or-treat bags for her volunteer drivers!) Those nourishing meals, combined with some in-home care, allowed her to have so many Halloweens in her own home. We miss her every day, but especially this time of year.
Aging in the right place shouldn’t be scary. Check out your local senior center and see what they offer.

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