There is an elderly woman in my apartment building who is always sitting by the back door when I leave for work in the mornings. I’ve known her since I moved into the building, although I don’t actually know her name. Six years ago, when we first started chatting in the elevator, she got around with the help of a cane, but was independent and strong. You could tell that she was a powerful person, but one of such cheerful spirits that you could tell that she was the type that other people used for support and ballast.
In the intervening years, I’ve watched as she has gone from cane, to walker, to walker with a seat (living in a building with a high percentage of elderly people has been an education in their walking accessories) and now finally to a wheel chair. She now always has an aide with her and seems to have shrunk quite visibly. However, she is still exuberant and just this morning said to me as I was walking past, “Button up that overcoat dearie, it’s cold out there this morning.” I smiled and said I would (even thought I was already all zipped up in my winter coat).