She had told me right from the start that she had health problems and needed me not only for my expertise but because she couldn’t get around well any more to do what she could of it on her own. I listened and understood her plight, but did not put much emphasis on it. We finished the room in time for his retirement and she then asked if I would help her with her master bedroom next.
I was of course willing to help, but not quite sure what she needed me to do for her. The room was very well done and there weren’t many options for the furniture layout due to size/door constraints. But she had recently remodeled her bathroom so I understood it as wanting a facelift for the bedroom to go with it.
I selected new bedding and came up with a new layout, she said she wanted to be able to better view the outdoors when she was lying down. What the layout was really about was her knowing she was going to spend a lot more time in bed due to a turn for the worse in her health. By the time I was wrapping things up, they were preparing the room for hospice to come in.
She had gone in to the hospital a couple weeks earlier but of course as the designer I did not know details. When I came to put the final touches in place, mostly hanging artwork back up, I did the best I could with what I had and no direction from her. The next day I received a call from her at the hospital and she was upset about the way hung things. Needless to say I was surprised, both at disappointing her and that she was calling me from her hospital bed concerned about how the bedroom looked at home.
Armed with more boxes of art and decor I didn’t have the first time I returned and started rehanging everything. That was when her husband informed me she was coming home to live out her final days. I was numb at first, but then found myself pouring my heart in to this wall. It would be the last thing she looked at, along with the view of the outdoors and her husband by her side.
A designer cannot get a better education anywhere to experience how important home can be until you prepare a room for someone to die. I relearned how much emphasis we place on our belongings and the memories they carry. I relearned how important being comfortable and familiar with things on the outside when on the inside nothing is the same. I was reaffirmed that aging in place is not just a catch phrase that society uses for new trends in design, insurance or healthcare needs. It is key to easing fears in the individual as well as their family and I am proud to continue my efforts to help those who believe in being at home till the end, and believe that I can help them achieve that.