By Pat Moran
Some years ago, I was managing the assisted living unit of a CCRC for retired military. One of my residents was one of the very few former enlisted men in residence. He fought in France during WWII. After the War, he built a very successful business. His son now ran the business. The son was very dedicated to his father and we frequently chatted in my office.
The resident was bright and friendly but had serious heart issues. He did very well in our environment. He was the only gentleman among a dozen or so ladies, but more than that he simply enjoyed life.
One morning the son came into my office with a card in hand. “I just got this and I don’t know what to do with it. I need your advice.” “This” was an invitation for his father to attend a reunion of his WWII unit to be held in Paris.
Money was not an issue. It was his health. His son worried that the trip would place too much stress on his father’s already damaged heart. What if something terrible happened along the way? The son said he would never forgive himself. But his father would be so excited to go. (The son had yet to tell his dad of the invitation.)
I heard him out, then leaned forward, made eye contact and said, “So, you are afraid he will die in Paris? And the upside is the trip of a lifetime? If it were you…”
Father and son made the trip to Paris, and they did it in style. They traveled on the Concorde, stayed at the five-star George V hotel, and had an amazing time. For my resident, one of the best parts of the trip was sharing stories, photos, and souvenirs (such as the engraved menu from the Concorde) with his fellow residents when he got back.
I have carried this story through the years since and try to live the lessons learned in my own life and counsel I give to others. Don’t let fear hold you back: you might miss Paris.
I find myself wondering how often residents, families and even senior living leaders are so afraid of a resident “dying in Paris” that they do not allow or even encourage residents to live life to the fullest.