This summer, my grandmother died, just one day short of her 100th birthday.
Like the rest of my family, I grieved this woman who had been such a pillar of strength. Here was someone who had raised eight children in wild country. Who had scrubbed laundry by hand, and peeled potatoes with a knife with mind-bending speed.
In her final years, her suddenly frail body was a fixture on the armchair in my parents' living room, but her mind wandered often. Sometimes she'd recall riding horses as a young tomboy. Other times she'd wonder if my long-dead uncles would be showing up to the dinner table in time to say grace.
Our family members visited her often then, bending down to receive her still-hardy hugs and kisses. Living with my folks, she was safe, cared for and appreciated.
She left us quietly one morning, as my mother held her hand.
While it was hard for all of us to see her go, it was comforting to know that we had provided her with some peace.
Unfortunately, not every elderly person in our community has the same luck.
Government-owned public housing for seniors is supposed to provide a haven for those of modest means to live out their lives. But if the shocking number — and nature — of Colorado Springs police reports are any guide, as detailed in our story beginning here, our system often fails.