Window Wandering

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by Alain Brunet

“Open wide,” said Vanessa. She is the young mother of two and the hygienist who took care of my dental bi-annual check-up yesterday. Very little time went by while she was getting ready to start. She was new to me so we chatted to know a bit more about each other. Sitting in the dentist reclining chair, I noticed that I was facing a narrow but tall window with a good ground-level view on the outside world.

Moments later, stretched on my back with my mouth opened wide and my eyes closed, my mind got busy. What if that was it? I wondered. Such an insight never happened to me before and, I have been going to this same dental clinic for over thirty years. I could not help but make a comparison with my brother Claude’s window.

From age 7 till he died at 48, Claude Brunet was paralyzed from the waist down. He miraculously survived an attack of meningitis and a two-week coma. Most of his life was spent in a bed located in a room with rarely more than one window. Room 618 was his home room for twenty years in a long-term-care hospital located in downtown Montreal. His bedroom space of about 10 x 10 feet did not allow him to get close to his window. All he could see, six storeys above ground, was the sky and an occasional pigeon. In a sense, this hindered view on the daily bustle happening below, probably saved him from being distracted and helped staying focused on his multiple accomplishments, some of them already mentioned in another story titled Dignity.

So much was happening outside my dentist window. My quick glimpse revealed a good size leafless tree, a normal condition in our mid-April Montreal climate. The brown lawn, just recently freed from snow, fancied a few green revival spots. A four-lane two-way street went at right-angles about fifty feet from my window. It was 2 p.m. and constant traffic moved by my funneled view. Rush hour must be very busy on this street, being the main access to this area. Passed the road surface, I noticed a fifteen-story residential building. My window was high enough that I could see some sky but not much.

Envisioning this, years ahead, if and when I would be limited to lying in a bed for a long period, what window would I prefer? But Vanessa interrupted my thoughts by some rinsing and suction. Then she asked me to select mint or cherry flavor for the polishing paste. I quickly said mint, closed my eyes and tried to focus on my project over the noisy spinner.

Back into my single windowed brainstorm, I reminded myself of how picky I am selecting hotel rooms when I travel today. Being a light sleeper makes me request a room on the quiet side of the building, away from highway noises. But I also make sure it is far from noises generated by elevators and exit stairway door slamming. I avoid top floors because in many instances, you hear noises coming from equipment on the roof. My brother Claude’s room 618 in St.Charles-Borromée 10-storey hospital was quite well located after all. But his window was facing west which meant enduring scorching heat on sunny summer afternoons.

Mobility of residents in assisted living residences is almost always possible nowadays. Lifts will help getting you out of bed and electric wheelchairs will allow you to visit a windowed lounge area with a ground-level view, even if restricted to a rolling bed. But I would rather not have a bedroom at ground level. It is too vulnerable to intruders and very displeasing to suddenly see a stranger looking in. Curtains would have to remain closed most of the time and defeat the window’s purpose.

All above considered, I must remember to shop early for my preferred assisted living bedroom so that I can select it facing east, on the second floor or higher, but not on the top floor. Vanessa did such a good job that I forgot she was still grinding in there. Dr. Elliot Mechanic, my excellent dentist since 1985, came to inspect her fine job and I told him she was the best hygienist I had ever had. He said no wonder because she is actually a dentist. I hope she will be available in six months for my next appointment. I may also ask to be facing this same window so that I can go window wandering again.

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Window Wandering = ContAlain 346
By: Alain Brunet on the morning of April 18, 2019
Published under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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