Circumstances change


To the Editor:

My husband hauled moorings on Menemsha Pond until he was 81 years old. He is about to turn 87 in another month. He has always been active, healthy, colorful, impetuous, sometimes exasperating, brilliant, and loving. By any standards, my husband has had a good run. Who among us wouldn’t want to be doing what we love well into our eighties?

Today he attends the Center for Living’s Supportive Day Program. Before we needed it, we had no knowledge of nor interest in even learning about this program. When one is healthy, vigorous, and working, who thinks about things being otherwise?

Circumstances change. If your life has yet to be impacted by a loved one’s cognitive or memory decline, brace yourselves. It can happen to the very best of us. The Center for Living is just that — a place where life goes on. It’s not just for those who are not what they used to be. For some who literally have no one else in their lives, this compassionate program provides company to isolated elders. The Center for Living satisfies another vital need in our community: Their wonderful elder care enables caregivers to take a break from their duties.

This modest, almost invisible social program has operated for the past 29 years on Martha’s Vineyard without a home. Each day Leslie Clapp’s inexhaustible staff sets up and then packs up supplies and equipment to shuffle between two locations. The landlords would like them to relocate.

Last month, I looked at the voting list in Chilmark, and counted 75 registered voters who are over the age of 80. Because the population of Martha’s Vineyard is full of people who have lived long, vigorous lives, the Supportive Day Program often has a waiting list.

Chilmark’s finance committee voted to recommend funding to purchase the old VNA building to house this program. I hope that voters across the Vineyard will take a good look at the value of this program and the relatively modest cost of its request. I can’t think of a more critical expenditure to fund this spring during the annual town meeting season on the Vineyard.

Susan B. Murphy