When I was a young girl, I was highly influenced by my maternal grandfather. He was French-Canadian, spoke to me only in French and loved to joke.
Sadly, he lost my grandmother when they were only 66 years old. He was at our house several times a week, telling us “a man alone is no good.” We would always be ready with an extra dinner plate and to comfort him during those difficulty evenings.
During the summers I would spend the warm Maine days with my grandfather. He enjoyed his job taking care of me and everyday we would end up at his little apartment where he prepared Instant Potato Buds and fried bologna. During lunch, we would listen to the comical Paul Harvey on the radio and laugh at his humor and his own way of sharing the daily news.
During those summers and over dinner, I learned a lot about what it meant to get older. Not only did my grandfather have to deal with being a widower, he was also forced to retire at the age of 70 from driving the school bus. He loved the kids and felt humiliated that he was now “too old.” As well as being a bus driver my grandfather was also a janitor of a local private children’s clothing store. When he accidentally left the door unlocked one evening, he was immediately fired the next day. He was crushed and felt that he was not even given a second chance. He was beginning to feel useless and disposable.
My grandfather would take me to visit all of our elderly relatives. They would recount to me their stories of their courtships, emigration from Canada to Maine to work in the mills, and how they met their spouses.
For years after my grandfather passed away, whenever Paul Harvey was on the radio, I was back immediately in that apartment that smelled of fried bologna. To this day, whenever I meet a new client, I want to know about their history, their courtships, and the stories of their lives. For as my grandfather taught me, there are many chapters to everyone’s life. There are good times, there are hard times, there are dreams and there are sorrows.
My goal when starting Elder at Home was to continue my passion in connecting with older adults as they continue with the chapters of their lives. People are living longer than ever and now must face multiple challenges including the loss of a spouse or child, the need to leave their homes, and the continued decline of their physical and emotional health. Elder at Home is a practice based on passion and compassion to help older adults and their families navigate the challenges they face.
Carmen Roy, RN