Last weekend, Debbie, Shep, and I visited Grandma Livingston. She lives at Seabury, an “active life care community” in Bloomfield, Connecticut. She is my last remaining grandparent, though I had the pleasure of having all four until I was 19. Debbie’s Grandma Plumb is her last grandparent.

My Gram lives in the assisted living section at Seabury. We joined her for brunch in the main dining hall. She has been at Seabury for nearly 10 years, and at 92, she is getting a lot of benefit from the arrangement. You can’t visit a place like Seabury and not think about aging, life, and death. In some respects, it is a very beautiful place. In others, it is a very sad place. Seeing the little toggles on each apartment door reminds you that the odds are stacked against these folks and that every day, someone might not get up. These toggles tell the staff whether or not you have left your apartment. It must be a dreadful feeling when the staff has to check on a resident who hasn’t stirred.

You have to look past these details, including the attached hospital/convalescent wing. You have to look at the wonderful things about Seabury, like the green house, swimming pool, craft room, library, and the long list of community events. Seabury helps extend the life of its residents by making their lives fun and enriching. It is comforting for both the residents and their families, that critical care is nearby. Of course, Seabury is the kind of place that is really only suitable for families with resources. Not everyone is a candidate and not every candidate is willing to sell their home, possessions, and other assets; in an effort to finance a Seabury-like option.

When we walked the halls with Gram, she pointed to each apartment and told us how old the resident was. “This one is 98, this one is 100, this lady is 104 and she is going to be 105 in two weeks,” she commented. “We are going to have a party.” I said, “Don’t jinx her by talking about it.”

Of course, the women outnumber the men. We are all familiar with the lifespan odds of the US. A good looking guy with a car and other resources could get a lot of dates if he lived at Seabury!  My grandmother has had a few friends like this during her tenure. Unfortunately, they are no longer here. She laments the loss. At 92, she is going strong, but the signs of her age are clearly visible. Still, she is vibrant and full of love. Zest is the word that comes to mind. 18 year olds don’t have the zest of this woman.

Shep was a real hit at the dining hall. He was the youngest guest by 32 years. Not counting the wait staff, Debbie took the honor as second youngest. I was third. The room of 60 or so diners buzzed. Some of Gram’s friends stopped by to say hello and to get a look at the “baby.” We had a wonderful time. I look forward to brunch again. With Gram at 92, you have to take advantage of every opportunity to make a visit.

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