It's been two weeks since I visited the folks on 2-South, but since nobody ever remembers me there I slipped back into the routine pretty seamlessly tonight. I was assigned back to Mary who was quite talkative, in a nonsensical manner. I asked if she was hungry and she responded, "They probably will just leave early." So I played along and fed her pureed hamburger, pureed baked beans, mashed potatoes and applesauce. Only a few weeks ago she was (messily) eating regular food, so she must have been choking quite a bit and they had to change her diet. She doesn't seem to care so I did my best to keep her from talking too much so that she could get some calories into her waif-ish body. Angie was her usual sweet self, but she won't feed herself anymore, something she did when I started six months ago. That was sad to realize. But she's so sweet, thanking me after each spoonful of peach yogurt I offer her. I place my hand on her back to encourage her, but it's so boney that I can't keep it there because I worry I'll hurt her if I pat too hard. She's like a nice, old kitty, emaciated but still purring.
I call out to my gals at the next table, "Bernice, are you hungry tonight?" "No, not really," she replied. I complimented Lorraine and Leola on their seasonal red sweaters, but I'm not sure they even know what Christmas is anymore. As Bernice pushed her wheelchair away from the table and slowly attempted to go back to her room, I called out, "Hey, Bernice, where are you going? Are you trying to make a break for it? Trying to escape?" She always smiles a little on the outside but it feels like she is understanding my joke and appreciating it on the inside. Simple, hand-cut snowflakes hung on every window and Alma told me she made the green one. She says they folded a piece of paper and then made little cuts in it and opened it up to find a snowflake. Mattie says she didn't make one, she had a doctor appointment that day and missed out. Rosalie just sort of snorted when I asked her which one she made. Apparently paper snowflakes are not her cup of tea.
Just as I was leaving, after most of the folks had gone back to their "homes," a young man showed up to play guitar and have a Christmas song sing-along. He started out with "Silent Night" and it was amazing to watch these ladies dreamily sing every word correctly while the guy accompanied them on guitar. One woman, the falsetto at the other table, joined in, never lifting her head from its wilted position on her chest. But she sang every word. As I glanced over to watch her, I saw another lady, one more table over back in the corner where I never go, slumped over completely asleep. I sang along, "Round yon virgin, Mother and child, Holy infant so tender and mild..." and I couldn't help but think how these folks had gone so far in life that they had come full circle and were now like young children, vulnerable and needy, tender and mild.