The Women of Wyngate

They were rocking and waiting for us, the women of Wyngate, a senior independent living complex where my dad resided for the final four years of his life. My sister and I had scheduled a visit for Wednesday night at 6:00 on the front porch. COVID had severely altered the visiting policies and possibilities at Wyngate. Visitors met residents out front, not inside. So with the temperature hovering close to ninety accompanied by a blanket of humidity, we visited the six ladies, all who had long since lost sight of 80 in their rearview mirrors.

They were special to my dad, a gentleman and a gentle man. They were blessings to our family because of how they made each day he lived there a gift. Pops came close to reaching ninety, crossing over to eternity four months shy of it. Growing old is punctuated with aches, wrinkles, and a calendar that resembles a Bingo game card with all the doctor visits noted on it. But advancing in age is made tolerable when you have traveling companions who are walking, ever so slowly, alongside you.

My dad made the Wyngate women laugh and smile. They were encouraged by his compliments and words of concern, and he is still missed even though its been three and a half years since he moved on.

Norma, now the Wyngate matriarch at 101, took my hand and pulled me into a hug. She had been the one who had caused me to blush one time when she mentioned the possibility of getting a bikini and going topless. I was speechless, but I noticed my dad in the background slapping his leg at the amusement of it all.

Bonnie, his across-the-hallway neighbor, looked as strong as ever with her distinctive voice. I was taken aback by a comment about her recent 90th birthday. Bonnie could still be mistaken for a bank loan officer, helping a customer acquire a car loan. I remember her being the checklist person whenever there was a fire drill, making sure that everybody was present and accounted for. Bonnie brought order to any hint of disorder. She watched out for my dad and he her.

Barb, a woman of grace, displayed her warm smile once again. She felt honored by our visit, not realizing that we were the ones who felt privileged to be able to visit. Seeing Virginia was like having a visit with one of my aunts, her warmth filtering into our souls. The two of them were characteristic of the Wyngate spirit, welcoming and hospitable.

And then there was Phoebe, deaf and delightful. I can’t understand how someone who isn’t catching much of the conversation can be so pleasant, but that’s Phoebe. She has that comforting element to her personality.

Finally, there’s Robin, the Wyngate manager, who thought so highly of my dad, and he of her. She always made him feel valued, listening to the wisdom of his suggestions and the homespun humor in his stories. All of them are the salt of the earth in a place populated with people on low-salt diets. Thank you, Lord, for the women of Wyngate!

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