This Picture

This picture is probably not quite what one expects to see when they think about assisted living.   So often you see a picture of a smiling older person, in a happy, sunny location.  I have no one image to describe Thetford House; in fact, there are hundreds of images, mostly in my mind, when I think about what happens at the home, who has lived there, who has walked through the doors or what I have taken home with me at the end of the day.   So, the picture at the top of the page is something very personal, something that helps remind me of why I do what I do, why I became so interested in getting to know people at the end of their lives, and why I ultimately chose to be with people who were losing their ability to share their own life stories.   It is not a linear narrative.   I think I attempt to make stories linear as a means to a coherent narrative, but in reality, stories come from a vast landscape of what was, what is, and how I connect the dots.  Often the stories sit gently inside me or sometimes with the wind whipping them around before the pieces settle into the picture they were always meant to be.

The three small photographs at the top of the page are old photographs of  my sister, Isabel.   I hadn’t planned on posting her image, but my husband, who set up the blog for me, placed it at the top of the page.   At first I was startled.  I didn’t want it there.  In fact, it never would have occurred to me to have her at the top of my blog, but very quickly, I realized my husband was acknowledging one of the main beginnings to a story that keeps unfolding.

There is a connection between those photographs taken in 1963, of my sister Isabel before she died and Thetford House and Joseph’s House, the hospice where I volunteer.   There is a connection between a devastated ten year old girl, facing unbearable loss and the journey of an adult woman accompanying people at the end of life.

This is still a story unfolding.

Speak Your Mind



  1. Barbara Goodrich-Dunn says:

    Emily, I thought I recognized those photographs. I am so glad you are doing this blog. I beleive it can lead people to begin feeling and thinking about the disorganizing aspects of aging from a perspective other than stereotyping, terror, and hopelessness. An aging person falling into dementia can be thought of as the ultimate”other” and as the deepest reflection of our own chaos. Kindness to all being. Thanks, E. Barbara

  2. I hope you will keep updating your content constantly as you have one dedicated reader here.

  3. Thank for this great post, i like what you