A Century of Beauty and Color: Edith’s Life Canvas

A Century of Beauty and Color: Edith’s Life Canvas

Life is by no means perfect, but I have lived long enough to understand how lucky and grateful I am for the life I have. Today, I was especially grateful. I had the pleasure of spending time with one of our beloved hospice patients, Edith McClean. 

After driving an hour in the pouring rain, I pulled up to a darling salt box house in the quiet and picturesque town of Rowayton, and suddenly the sun started peeping out. This was surely a sign of things to come. 

Edith’s sweet caregiver Joan answered the door and ushered me into the living room. My eyes were immediately drawn to the dozens of paintings around the room – all sizes, all colors. From long-stemmed tulips to gorgeous yellow sunflowers to bright, beautiful parrots, the room welcomed me in and instantly made me happy.

And then I met Edith. At the remarkable age of 100, she is the true embodiment of grace, gratitude and presence.  Her beauty is timeless, a reflection of a life well-lived and a spirit that continues to shine brightly. 

For the past four decades, Edith has called Rowayton home. It has been a haven for her, a place where she and her husband raised their family, traveled, made friends – lived a beautiful, fulfilling life. But after losing her husband, father and mother within a short period of time and having her son embark on his own journey, she found herself dealing with a great deal of grief, loss and transition.  Edith turned to painting as an outlet for her emotions and a way to fill the newfound space in her heart. She talks about how painting was not only a hobby for her, but something she could control in her life, and this brought order and happiness to her surroundings.  Edith has become a recognized still life painter, exhibiting in many places including Geary Gallery in Darien and at the Rowayton Arts Center in Norwalk. She painted until she was 94. 

It is not just Edith’s art that captures hearts; including mine, it is Edith herself. A centenarian with a spirit as vibrant as her paintings. She is honest about not feeling great every day, but she deals with it gracefully. She has a host of family, friends and admirers (like her cherished granddaughters and her landscaper, who she has known since he was 18 years old) who keep her more than busy. She is also grateful for her Regional Hospice caregivers and looks forward to their visits. Whether it’s Kritin Albert, RN who kindly and diligently monitors her health, Jenn Bell Finegan, LMT, who mindfully provides wellness therapies such as meditation, sound healing and gentle massage or Amy Bauer, LCSW, who lovingly provides emotional support and guidance, Edith looks forward to the expert care, cheer and lightness which they all bring with them.

Our Regional Hospice caregivers look forward to their visits with Edith, as well. I asked them to say a few words and was not at all surprised by their responses. “It is rare for a hospice clinician to meet with a patient and come away from that meeting feeling lighter and brighter,” said Amy. “That is exactly how I experience my time with Edith. She is smart, funny and exudes warmth and compassion. Our time together is always a highlight!”

Jenn added, “Edith and I share a love of light. As artists know, it’s all about the light. Edith paints flowers and I grow and distill them. Our love of beauty bonds us. It has been my privilege to spend time with Edith and introduce her to sound healing. I include it in all of our sessions, and it’s become the cherry on top! I have deep gratitude for meeting such a vibrant woman.”

I asked Edith what “making the best of every day” means to her. Her answer was that she wakes up and deals with what the day brings her. Some days she is not feeling well and wants to take it easy, sometimes her home is full of family, friends or caregivers, and sometimes she listens to the murder mysteries and other books on tape that she so enjoys. It all depends on the day!

Although her vision has been affected by macular degeneration over the years, her other senses have become even stronger. She loves to listen to her books, she enjoys lively chats with visitors, she loves the feel of Jen’s gentle massage and the soothing and healing sounds of her bowls and chimes.

Edith’s century of beauty and color is a remarkable thing and for all those who are lucky enough to know her, she is a source of joy, light and inspiration.