Mary Wright walked the stretch of sidewalk between her old condo and The Village of Erin Meadows where her husband lives more times than she can count over the course of the past four years. She’s well into her 90s, yet she says the 1km trip to visit Bill was good for her, and she used to walk it nearly every day.
The last two winters were bad though, and she says some days the poorly cleared sidewalks were practically impossible to navigate while pushing her walker. She spent “a fortune in taxis” so she wouldn’t miss her visits with Bill. Then came the late days of February and with them, the opening of the Erin Meadows retirement neighbourhoods. She’d been one of the first people to put a deposit down on a new suite, and she was among the first to move in, finally trimming her commute to little more than a short elevator ride and a stroll down Main Street.
“I am liking it and my husband is liking it,” she says. “He knows that I’m close by.”
There’s comfort in the fact they’re close and can take part together in any village activity they choose and not long after Mary moved in they took advantage. She went to Bill that afternoon and told him they were going on a date “just like we used to do.”
He may live with Alzheimer’s disease but the memories and feelings from long ago remain ever present, and he was happy to join her.
“ ‘I’ve got a bag of popcorn,’ ” she told him, “ ‘and we’re going to go down to the movies and we’re going to sit and hold hands just like we did when we were younger.’ ”
The new Town Hall off Main Street was converted into a theatre that day and they sat and ate popcorn while holding hands, comfortable together and happy to be so. A short while later they did the same while watching early episodes of I Love Lucy on the hall’s big pull-down screen; other times they’ve been to the chapel for interdenominational services together.
Together – that’s the important word.
When he’s been away from his neighbourhood for too long, Bill will tell Mary he’s ready to go home and she’ll walk him down the street. Until recently he never used to refer to his room at Erin Meadows as “home”, but he does now. There’s comfort in that, Mary says, and comfort in knowing that her home is now inside the same Village where the sidewalks she navigates on her short commute will never be obstructed.