Saturday, January 19, 2008

Scenes from an Undisclosed Nursing Home: Post 1*

She was one of the first residents I noticed when I put my Mom in a residential care facility (I still find it difficult to use the term NURSING HOME).

It was the hat. The bright rainbow colored hat. A furry hat. She just looked all the sass in that hat.

The first day we were there we arrived right at lunch time. They tried to seat my Mom at the same table with "Hattie." Hattie wanted no part of it. Mom just didn't belong there, Hattie said. She simply COULDN'T sit there. So, they ended up telling us we could eat in the recreation room that day and my opinion of Hattie was a bit unsettled after that.

But this day...this day, as I started down the hall to Mom's room, there was Hattie's familiar frame sitting in her wheelchair in the hall. I could hear her sobbing before I even started walking down that hall. The familiar rainbow colored hat was cocked to the side and she sobbed uncontrollably. One of the other residents was rolled up right beside Hattie and at first I thought she was trying to comfort her, but she wasn't, as usual she just wanted to go to her room so I took her there and returned to Hattie.

"Awww, what's the matter, honey?" I said as I put my hand on her shoulder.

At first she said ,"nothing," and cried the harder but I persisted and finally she answered:

"My son left, my son left," she cried but added, "...he'll be back, I know he'll be back."

Hattie knew her son had to leave, she knew he couldn't stay there forever but it broke her little heart when he left and she couldn't contain herself. She knew it was unreasonable to cry about it but she just couldn't help herself, she was devastated. Her beloved son had come to see her, her beloved son had to go and she knew he'd be back.

Those were the facts.

Knowing the facts didn't make it any easier for Hattie to accept.

*This is the first posting in an intended series of posts on "scenes from an undisclosed nursing home"


Momma Twoop said...

How heartbreaking!

I worked in a nursing home during high school as a dishwasher - you know, one of those jobs Americans won't do - and I can tell you that there is SO MUCH to be learned from residents in these types of facilities. There is so much history and knowledge bundled up there! All you need to do is make time and ask them about their life. Most every resident in the long-term care facility I worked at would happily share their stories with me once they realized I was a "regular," someone who would be there regularly.

I made many friends during my time there. The most special to me was Effie, a lady who smoked 4 cigarettes - Kool menthol - a day in the cafeteria and was 104 years old when I moved on to another job. Her wit was second to none.

I look forward to more in this series, Jacke.

Jason said...

Man. That really breaks my heart. I know what it's like when my kids go away after being here for visitation but I at least know when they'll be coming back. I can't imagine not knowing when they'll come back to see you.

Jacke M. said...

Twoop, when I was a young teenager I volunteered as a "candy striper" at a nursing home over one summer.

I had a special friend there. Her name was Ms. Houghton. She liked for me to style her hair and put a fresh rose behind her ear. She talked about the many beaus she'd had as a young woman when she used to fix her hair like that.

One day, one of the aides was laughing and telling a story on Ms. Houghton. Seems she was either resting or sleeping in bed and there was a soap opera playing on T.V. One of the male characters was really berating a young woman character on the show, this is when, the aide told me that Ms. Houghton sat straight up in bed and said, "THAT'S no way to talk to a lady!"

Ms. Houghton was a real lady.