Older than his wife, he knew the odds were against him outliving her. He had a binder full of information on every account, every action that should be taken upon his passing. When our retirement community was in our initial stages of development, he and his wife, along with their dog Hannah, were number two on the sign-up list for an apartment (the first went to the mother of our the initial marketing director—a position which rankles him to this day).
After extensive research, he had selected our community because it was to be a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)—offering independent living, assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation, and skilled nursing all on one campus. It was, he had decided, the perfect solution so that he, his wife and their dog Hannah could all grow older together without having to worry about the need for care. In short, he felt he had done everything he could ensure she was living in the right place when something inevitably happened to him.
The problem was, the inevitable happened to Joanne first.
Just days before they were to move into our new building, she tripped and fell, breaking her left shoulder and her left hip. His planning, however, was still flawless. Instead of moving into independent living, Joanne went to rehab on the same campus, while Harry and Hannah moved into their new independent living apartment together. From there, they could easily walk down the hallway to visit Joanne every day until she made her full recovery. Then, she, too, moved into their independent living apartment where they all still happily reside today.
Sometimes, if you plan well enough, your journey along the gray mile can still be smooth even if you do trip and stumble along the way. It was for Harry. It was for Joanne. And it was for one old gray dog I saw walking the halls with Harry just the other day.