The Hartwell sits on a beautiful, tree-lined, residential stretch of Paulina Street in Andersonville. It’s home to people with Alzheimer’s, though they describe it more politely as “those with memory limitations.”
This is where my mom lives.
Now, there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t find inspiration in this city. Yesterday was the always amusing Taste of Lincoln Festival. The day before, I attended the latest Creative Mornings session with Jason Fried of 37signals. On Thursday, I was at the Gene Siskel Center watching the debut of the new YouTube crowdsourced movie, Life in a Day. (Early review: Fascinating, though the slaughter scene was gnarly.)
Today, I’m going to visit my mom. And all the inspiration and vibrancy and passion this city provides will disappear as soon as I approach the Hartwell. There, I’ll lose any sense of where I am. I won’t be able to feel the liveliness of the neighborhood. I’ll lose all desire to see something new.
Inside, my mom will sit in a wheelchair, her faint voice speaking words that don’t go together. She’ll be unable to recognize me. And I’ll be unable to recognize her.
This isn’t Chicago. It’s a black hole, sucking up all the great things this city gives.
It will be one of the last times I’ll see my mom in Chicago. Though the Hartwell staff is great, there’s nothing else they can do for her here. We’re moving my mom to Milwaukee, to a facility that can better care for someone in her condition.
Soon, she’ll be gone from the city. Though I get the feeling the black hole on Paulina will always remain.
About the author: Kevin Lynch works in advertising. On his rare days off, he’s working on ne’er-do-well projects at www.15-ideas.com.