It would be timely to post about Halloween – pumpkin guts, zombies, sugar-crazed children with bellyaches, etc. My offspring were disguised as a faceless ghoul and a psychotic scarecrow. Sadly, they seem to be past the stage of cute costumes – no pandas or butterflies here. They made the rounds and returned a few hours ago, tired and frozen but still keen to dig into their hoard of assorted teeth-rotting candies.
But since I’m feeling done with Halloween, and since it’s Monday, the photos I chose to post don’t include my costumed kids or our jack-o-lanterns.
Monday mornings, I do laundry at Innisfree House, a residential hospice, where I’ve been volunteering for about a year. Innisfree opened in the summer of 2015 and can accommodate 10 adults. Residents have a life expectancy of three months or less. The staff of PSWs, nurses and doctors tailor individual care for residents with a focus on peace, comfort, and dignity during their last days.
It’s hard to articulate why I was drawn here. It’s not for everybody. The truth is, I’m more comfortable contributing behind the scenes, with infrequent direct interaction with residents and families. For me, in these difficult situations, there simply are no words. But if I can make sure the linens are clean and folded, it means a staff member can spend more time caring for residents rather than wrestling with fitted sheets.
Though you may not expect it, this is an inviting place, designed to soothe the senses. Often I hear a volunteer or staff member singing at a resident’s bedside. The piano isn’t just for show, in fact, a music therapist visits weekly. Each bedroom has a patio door leading to a sunny courtyard garden. When the weather cools, visitors trade in their shoes for fuzzy slippers. The bedroom quilts are handmade. Children and pets are welcome. There’s a jigsaw puzzle on the go in the common room. And there are always cookies baking in the oven.
This morning, in between loads of laundry, I made a few photos of Innisfree’s main common room. It’s a lovely building, clean and modern, with loads of light and space. It’s strikingly different than a hospital ward. There’s a lot of effort invested in the decor. In comfort, in beauty.
Take a look at the coasters. I wouldn’t trade my scarecrow or ghoul for anything, but today, this is where I found my butterflies.