I am sick. My stomach is gnawing, and I am aching from head to toe. I am tired, but cannot sleep because of the aches that make me shift my body incessantly in an attempt to find a position of relief.
I am upstairs in my bed while the family hangs out downstairs.
I wanted a drink of water. Unsure of whether or not I felt well enough to venture down to get it myself, I opted to wait for someone to check in on my poor pathetic self. And I waited. And I waited. No checkers…no water for wretched and parched me. I wanted to yell, “HELLLOOOO? Is anyone going to check on me? I need a drink! Helllloooo?!”
It brought to mind my visit to the nursing home last week to visit my Memiere. There is a woman across the hall from her…99 years old. Can you believe that?! 99!! There she sits in her chair day after day. Alone. No one comes to check on her outside of normal round times. No one keeps her company. No one. And she waits. And she waits until she can wait no longer. Then she begins calling from her room…
“HELLOOOOO??? Can anybody hear me? Hello? Can someone please help me to the bathroom? Room 12…please. I don’t know how to use the button!! HELLOOOOO??! Can somebody please help me?”
And she waits. Sometimes she waits for so long, and calls for so long that I am tempted to go help her myself. I have gone to let a nurse know that Mrs. H. requires assistance. And I am met with rolling eyes and a “she ALWAYS needs assistance.” I want to shake those disrespectful nurses who have that reaction until their teeth rattle and their eyeballs roll.
99 years…a lifetime. A long lifetime. I can’t help but think…this woman was once spry, active, ran a household, raised children, laughed, danced, celebrated….likely mourned over and over again. And now here she sits, waiting for someone to come along and spend a few precious moments with her…this is her fate? And you dare roll your eyes because this woman asks for bathroom assistance??
I can’t help but wonder if I might have missed a calling. I walk down those halls, and I peer into the rooms and see lifetimes, youths lived, wisdom gained…lessons ripe for the taking. Perhaps there’s a job for me there…”Geriatric Companion.” I’ll sit, I’ll chat, I’ll listen…I’ll smuggle in chocolate and good tea and a pack of chew now and then…and simply be there. I’ll shake the impatient nurses with my words until their teeth rattle and they understand the gift they have been given– to be a force of good in these people’s lives in their most vulnerable days.
To all the wonderful caretakers out there, who do their job with good nature, skill, and grace, protecting the dignity of the beautiful Old Ones, may you be eternally blessed.