Read about the writer, Ellie David.
The Embrace of Community
David Roodhouse died on Dec. 22, 2004, at Bailey-Boushay House.
David Roodhouse moved into Bailey-Boushay House in spring 2004 for what's informally called a "tune-up" (nursing care to recover after a health crisis). Instead, Bailey-Boushay became David's last home.
His parents, Jim and Ginny Roodhouse, worried their son would despair when he couldn't return, as planned, to his assisted-living residence. But David "quite quickly came to just love this place," Jim says.
Ginny credits her son's peace of mind in his final months to "the nurses and the love he experienced here."
David had lived with bipolar disorder (and took medication for it) since his early 20s. He was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS nearly a decade before he died, at age 43.
All of the Roodhouses felt embraced by the Bailey-Boushay community. "I know without a doubt," Ginny says, "that Bailey-Boushay extended David's life by their care and love."
David had a way of turning the ordinary — a room, a recipe, a garden, or blank paper — into the extraordinary.
"He was an artist and a writer, a gardener, and a gourmet cook," Ginny says. "The artwork he did was his saving grace [as his health declined]. It gave him a way to express himself."
At Bailey-Boushay he decorated his room with his own creations, old and new. And he took full advantage of the art room supplies to continue painting.
"His artwork was so healthy," his mother says, "with all these bright, happy colors." After David died, his parents turned a hallway in their house into an art gallery of "those great big wonderful pictures."
David was always a character, his dad says. And he loved to eat, adds his mom. They tell a funny story about 10-year-old David's mysterious weight gain. Years later they learned that he'd befriended elderly neighbors who ate early.
"He stopped every day to eat a full dinner with them," Ginny says, "before he came home to eat with us!"
They remember David's generosity, too. Many of his gay friends didn't have any family, and he explained to his parents how hard that was.
"He told us how much he appreciated that we reached out to the people that he loved," Ginny says. "That brought us closer, too."
Even near the end, when he was confined to bed, David's impulse was to share. One day a harpist he knew offered to perform in his room. He asked her to play not just for him, but for all the other residents on his floor, too.
Seven years after David died, Jim and Ginny returned to the Bailey-Boushay community. They came to reconnect and reminisce with David's nurses. And they were excited to attend a Valentine's Day party for current residents.
"It felt like the right time to reach out," Ginny says, "to talk with them and sing with them and hug them. Just to be able to spend time with them was pretty special."