So last week Peaches and I went to visit my 95 year old grandmother in a nursing home 40 mintues from my house. (I've always said, my people aren't terribly attractive or smart, but we are hairy and we live a very long time.) My grandmother is one of those spunky ladies who has pretty much outlived all of her friends, siblings, and husband, and hasn't a clue why God is keeping her here, but she muddles along with a good sense of humor.
I maintain God keeps her here so that I can visit the nursing home...and stuff like the following can happen to me.
We went to see her and the plan was to visit for an hour, right before her bed time, and then grab a bit to eat on the way home. As we were about to wrap things up, the hall monitor....caregiver...came in an announced that there was going to be a band concert on the patio in ten minutes, would we like to go?
Looking at my grandmother's almost sightless eyes light up, there was no way we were going to miss this.
Which is when the fun started. See, I don't know my way around the home too well. It's basically a series of identical halls the lead you to pods of rooms. I can find Grandma's room. I can find the lunch room. Beyond that, I'm just wandering. Keep that in mind for later.
We managed to get out to the patio, and we were the first ones out there because my Grandma had two people pushing her wheelchair. The rest of the residents had to wait until the hall monitor pushed them all to the lunch room and then moved them one by one to the patio. Very time consuming, but hey, they were going OUTSIDE. So they had patience.
The band was the local municipal band, made up of about 14 people ranging in age from low 20's (okay, the two man drum section was made of up guys in their low 20's, both of whom were trying to catch Peaches' eye) to upper 70's...you sort of felt some of the band members were using the concert to scope out the home...you know...for their own future plans.
The concert was okay, I mean, it was 12 really old people playing marches and polkas for 40 super old people who couldn't march or polka if you propped them up and pushed them in step...and two guys trying to catch my daughter's eye. In fairness to the guys...polkas and marches aren't that taxing on a drummer, and she was, after all, the only person on that patio under the age of 44. ( I was, yes, the next youngest person out there.)
There was an exception to the rule: Clarence. Clarence is a 78 year old volunteer at the home and every single ancient woman in the place adores him. See, he's not in a wheelchair, he has his own teeth, and he is charming. I think even my grandmother, who can't hear or see so well, likes him because every time he moved, she looked in his direction.
|You see this.|
|Clarence sees this.|
But Clarence only had eyes for the woman in the sexy wheelchair.
Didn't know there was such a thing, did you? Well, most wheelchairs have brand names on them, "Mediline" "Medimove" "Medipedi." Things like that. But there was one semi comatose lady on that porch whose wheelchair's name was BREEZY.
Yep, Breezy...the Porche, Corvette, Mustang of wheelchairs all rolled up into one. And Clarence couldn't get enough of the lady in the BREEZY. She didn't seem to notice him...after all, it was half an hour past her bedtime and she was pretty much asleep. But he was making her hands clap and moving her chair back and forth during the polka.
I suggested Peaches polka with Clarence. She declined. And then returned to staring at the drummer with the cute glasses.
The concert lasted 45 minutes and then we were going to wheel grandma back to her room, and go home. However the caretaker, the only person who brought all those people out to the patio, now had to bring them in from the patio and put them in their rooms. She told them all, like first grades, to stay in the lunchroom until she got everyone in there and then she would get everyone, one by one, to their rooms.
And like first graders, the wheelchair set was not about to wait.
We were wheeling grandma out of the lunchroom, ahead of those making a break for it, but there was a gent whose back wheels were stuck on the threshold of the door. (Speed bump, if you will.) I gave him a nudge and started to take Grandma back to her room.
"No, sweetie, take me back to my room," says the old man.
Now, I'm not one to be unhelpful. So I told Peaches to take grandma back to her room, and I'd take this guy back to his. How long could it take?
"What's your room number?"
"110," he says, and I figure we're off to a good start. The group behind me is milling around looking for an opening in the wall because no way are they waiting for someone to wheel them to their rooms...darn it, they know where their rooms are!
So I start taking this man to his room. After several twists and turns one this is abundantly clear: There is no room 110. Oh, and this guy hasn't a clue where his room is.
I ask a nurse, who points me in the right direction. We get to the door and he reads the name, "Yes, that's me. I'm Fred."
"Oh good, Fred," I park him in his room and I'm about to leave...
You know how I hate unmade beds.
"You make my bed."
I look at this guy. "What do you mean, make your bed?"
"Fluff up the pillows, pull the sheets tight."
He says this like I'm an idiot...and like an idiot, I make his bed.
"Now I want to get in the bed."
"But Fred, I just made it."
I'm arguing with a 90 year old.
"I'm getting in the bed."
"Can you do that on your own?"
I have my doubts. But I let him fiddle with the foot rests on his wheelchair for a minute. I used to work in a facility a little like this, so waiting for an old person to do something isn't an issue for me. But after a minute, he really seemed hell bent on standing up, whether those flaps were up or not, so I bent down to flip them up. That's when I saw that Fred had a catheter/urine bag strapped to him.
Too many things could go wrong. So I go out, get a nurse, who is laughing about this because she heard our conversation. Then I head back to my Grandmother's room, working my way through the flood of wandering wheelchairs...sort of like the escape scene in "Titanic" except in really, really slow motion. One woman stopped me and said, "Am I lost?"
"Sweetie, I don't know," I said, "What is your room number?"
I was happy to see a sign two feet away with an arrow pointing to 525. "You go that way," I said.
She started to scoot, and another woman stopped me. "Can you help me find my room?"
Her husband didn't like her talking to strangers. He hustled her away from me.
I did notice that Clarence had BREEZY well in hand.
Back in my grandmothers' room we hugged her and said goodnight. On our way out of the building I noticed that "525" had someone pushing her chair in the opposite direction. He looked a tiny bit panicked.
I wonder if he had to make her bed.