Saturday, August 28, 2010

Round Robin: Feelings Without Faces

My entry for Round Robin Challenge: Express A Feeling is going to be a bit on the experimental side. As you may have noticed, I don't take many pictures of people's faces. I don't like to intrude on people's privacy. John forbids me to post his picture in any case, and there's really nobody else I feel I can ask to pose for me. So to "express a feeling" in this entry (as suggested by Lisa of Lisa's Chaos in 2008), I'm going to rely mostly on a building and some sky. I'm also going to cheat a little, and tell you about the building. See if you can guess what feeling is expressed here.

The main entrance to Devon Gables, as seen from the annex parking lot.

This is a place called Devon Gables. I don't want to call it notorious, exactly; in fact, I don't want to criticize Devon Gables as an institution or disparage any of its personnel. But it's a very well-known place in Tucson. If you live here and are old enough to have aged parents, friends with health issues that come with age, or even health problems of your own, you probably have heard of the place. You may even have walked its halls, or been pushed down them in a wheelchair. Devon Gables is a combination rehab facility, nursing home and assisted living center, one of the largest in town.

My mom was here, circa 2001 and 2002, twice I think. They were supposed to be teaching her how to manage her ostomy, but it took her a long time to learn to cope. She was at Devon Gables on an awful Christmas Day, possibly her last Christmas. I brought her presents there. Another time, in this place where the lights are on 24 hours a day, she called me on my new cell phone at 4AM, not realizing what time it was. I had it on the charger so it didn't ring; instead a voicemail prompt played, from the (male) previous owner of that phone number. My mom left an angry message about her paying for a phone so that John (she thought the recorded voice was John, live) could hang up on her.

A welcome to their home - but how homey is it?

One thing I'll say for Devon Gables: it tries to be welcoming and homey. Emphasis on the word "tries." In addition to this sign, the word "WeLcome" [sic] is painted on an otherwise featureless wall of cement blocks outside the annex.

The view from the annex entrance: clouds, mountains and medical transport.

It's hard to feel at home, though, in a place that residents typically reach by ambulance or medical transport. Some people, like my friend J., are destined to come to Devon Gables for a few weeks only, to recover from a fall or an illness or surgery before being shipped out again, to their homes or perhaps another institution. For others, this is the last stop, or the last except for some brief, final crisis in a hospital nearby.

The reflection on the annex doors is broken by iron grain, Kokopelli and my revealing shadow.

Still, as I say, they try to make the place look nice and welcoming, decorating it with Southwest colors and iconography - fake prickly pears out front (real cactus might injure someone), Kokopelli in the ironwork on the annex door, saguaro shapes and an incongruous spear hanging on the walls.

Wheelchairs in a lounge, in negative.

Beyond these touches, though, and beyond these doors, the main things one sees are hallway after hallway full of rooms, two beds to a room, and, outside the rooms, lots and lots of people in wheelchairs: mostly not talking, usually barely moving. These people tend to congregate in lounges with a television hanging on a  wall. This is odd, because they don't seem to really be watching it, or hanging out with each other. Nor do they necessarily need a lounge to get to a television, judging from J.'s room. She has a little flat screen tv that swings out over he bed on a metal arm, looking very much like a medical device - an X-ray machine, perhaps. J. was watching one of these when Kevin and I stopped by.

We didn't stay long, for various reasons.

So what is the feeling expressed by these pictures of Devon Gables on an overcast day, and indeed the feeling my friend Kevin and I experienced during our visit? Highlight the answer in between the * asterisks * below:

* ******* GLOOM ******* *

Now let's go this the other Robins' photographic feelings. I feel sure there will be lots of them that are more positive that the one above!

Linking List
as of 3:16 AM PDT/MST
Saturday, August 28th 2010 (K)

Carly - Posted!

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Day One

Mommy's Treasures

Holly **Welcome, New Participant!**
Easy Living The Hard Way

Ethos - Posted!
Passion in the Moments

Sandy - Posted!
From the Heart of Texas

Food for Thought

Rich - Posted!
Rich Image

Mary - Posted!
Mary Tomaselli's Photos

Dawn - Posted!
Dawn Elliot Photography

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

(And by the way, I promise to catch up with my blog-jogging and commenting this weekend. Thanks for your patience!)



Rich said...

Beautiful write up as always Karen. It seems a bit sad and depressing to me. I hope you can manage a happy weekend!

Linda said...

You're right, Karen---pretty gloomy---from the weather to the building itself. Not very cheerful, but a feeling nonetheless.

Carly said...


Sherrie said...

Hi Karen,
I can feel the gloom in your story and pictures. Not a cheery place to be or to visit. Have a great day!

Food for Thought