Tuesday, April 28, 2015
The geriatric care wing of a pavillion attached to a nearby hospital.
The doctors insist that residents be served water as often as possible.
Mr "R" sits in his wheelchair, eyes closed , his back stiff against the back of the chair, his white hair curling around the rim of a black felt hat. Impressive figure. I put my hand on his shoulder, stroke his arm gently and expect him to open his eyes. He does not. I ask if he wants some water - no answer. I push the glass softly against his mouth and slip a straw between his lips. Glass empty..... his eyes still closed. I feel triumphant.
Mrs "A" had breakfast in bed and invites me into her room. The rosary on her night table compelled me to say that I used to recite the rosary in German. She delivers a part of it in French as her fingers move the pale blue beads and is eager to tell me that a priest comes to a lower floor later in the day for rosary recital and would I please wheel her there some day. She can not leave this floor because she does not know the password that opens the elevator door. I have done so and sat with her while warm memories such as rosary evening and teenage awakening mingled in my head, going back many many years. Us girls on our knees in the pew struggling to be next to hold the tiny mirror in front of us so that we could look up to the choir loft where the boys were hanging over the gallery looking down. . Pleasant thoughts.
Mrs "L" likes Christmas. The decorations in her room look tired and the white film covering them is not snow but dust. Her right arm is in a sling she moans about the pain and asks me to inspect the bruises. I tell her that I'm not allowed to do that and ask her what happened..
She tells me that she was not tied in on the right side of her wheelchair and fell out. Sometime later I meet her in the 'fish bowl' aka smoking room and as I express my concern about the fact that she is again not tied in she tells me that her fall had nothing to do with being tied in or not but that she fell as she tried to walk. Listen and take in with a grain of salt.
Mrs "M" sits near the window and turns the pages of a magazine lying on a table in front of her. She invites me to come closer and points to a photograph of cats playing with a ball and is concerned as to how they can get all that work done in one day. Then she utters "if my mother came to see me now I would give her a push to get her out of here" and in the same breath she continues "when I moved out from home mother told me that I could not do that and asked where I will go and what I intend to do and I answered I will do everything that you would like to do now but can't, haha".
I change the subject and ask if I can change the water of the flowers in the vase. She smiles and as she turns a page in her magazine asks me to leave by saying come again.
I feel welcome.
Mrs 'C' sits in her room facing the open door. She does not want any of this rotten water. No she does not want me to turn her chair towards the blaring TV which she says she can't see because they placed it too fu...ing high. I stop trying to turn her chair around, move to the side and watch her knit without needles and wool.
A heavy Nefertiti bust hangs on a gold chain around her neck. Harsh words have no power over me.
Mr "P" is a retired pastor. He rolls back and forth in the corridors as if he were on Main Road and tells me that he is here because his wife left him and mumbles something about for better or for worse.
Yes, shit can happen in the best families.
Mrs "M", the 92 year old resident is the matriarch of the 3rd floor.
She rises late, has breakfast in her room, dresses nicely, wears jewellery, has her hair and nails done once a week and loves to push her walker towards an area where her job is waiting. She smooths wrinkles out of hundreds of facecloths and makes neat piles of them. "Who touched this, none of their business, my job, it's only 11.30 why are they moving towards dining room".
Live to the very end.