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Know then that "life" hath a twofold meaning. The first pertaineth to the appearance of man in an elemental body, and is as manifest to thine eminence and to others as the midday sun. This life cometh to an end with physical death, which is a God-ordained and inescapable reality. That life, however, which is mentioned in the Books of the Prophets and the Chosen Ones of God is the life of knowledge; that is to say, the servant's recognition of the sign of the splendours wherewith He Who is the Source of all splendour hath Himself invested him, and his certitude of attaining unto the presence of God through the Manifestations of His Cause. This is that blessed and everlasting life that perisheth not: whosoever is quickened thereby shall never die, but will endure as long as His Lord and Creator will endure. - Baha'u'llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, pp. 47-48.When I first came to Florida forty years ago, I took note of what were then only a few of these incredible facilities, these ALF’s. In my young mind, they stood out as modern monuments to human ingenuity and cruel and heartless commerce. At the time I never dreamed that anyone I knew—my mother, for example—would willingly choose such a destiny. So, in mocking contempt, I wrote the following poem: The Awful Wonders of the Sun Bay Towers Development for Senior Citizens
I am told that there is, neatly on the wall of each cubiculum in the looming white monument to mercantility rising before me, a door two feet square, coal-bin-hatch size, stainless steel, hinged at the top, connected to a chute so when pains come tingling up the arm, one simply leans forward from the waist, then it's zoom down the slide to the basement and plop in the red velvet box on rollers tripping the lid shut—the momentum carrying the whole assemblage (me inside) into the back of a dark waiting Cadillac, station-wagon shaped, motor running.But as I watched the occupants at my mother’s facility dodge the children on Sunday when grandchildren and great grandchildren would weave in and out of the walkers, canes, and trembling limbs, I realized that the walls were there to ward off danger, not to box in these elders among us. For twelve years after my father’s death, Mom had kept house for herself, by herself, and at eighty-two she was ready and deserving to let others assist her with the mundane chores of living—Florida was too hot for her taste and Quebec too cold for her to live with either me or Bill. Now, forty years after coming to Florida, these facilities no longer stand out in pristine singularity in contrast to the long-gone disarray of beachside cottages and seaside motels. Now the coast is guarded by them, like battlements of a castle wall one watches in awe when gliding over the shore into town on a sleek jet. As I pass over this array of columns of stucco and steel, I can hardly believe that the diminishing white sands can sustain the weight of so much concrete, so many lives, so many tender and patient souls in God’s waiting rooms.