Two weeks of Wednesday work commitments have kept me away from the care center, but I was back at it last night and happy to be there. I haven't missed two weeks in a row since I started volunteering there over a year ago and I must admit that I was a little nervous because a lot can happen – not all of it good – in just a few short weeks at a nursing home. So it was with great relief that I walked into the dining room and saw that things were running pretty much the same as when I left.
I spent several minutes placing clothing protectors around the necks of all of my regular favorites, telling Eileen that I thought it was her singing when I heard the radio, asking Leola if she was hungry, telling Mary that her purple velour sweater made her eyes sparkle. It didn't take long to get back into the swing of things, teasing Rosie about finishing her food, laughing with Mattie about the song Gudrun was humming over and over, and feeding Angie and Mary their pureed taco salads. Angie was in a good mood, laughing and bowing her head and clasping her hands together in thanks. Mary was talkative as usual, and as always answered my question "Do you want a drink of milk?" in the positive, just not about the milk. For example:
Me: "Mary, are you thirsty? Would you like a drink?"
Mary: "Yes, I think I might like to go for a walk."
When she answers in the positive, no matter what question she answers, Mary is ready for a drink. If she answers more along the lines of "I don't think I'll need that wrench," then I know she won't open her lips to the cup of milk so I might as well not bother. It's fascinating.
It was so nice being back, alternately feeding Mary and Angie with opposite hands so as not to cross-contaminate with any germs I might be carrying, laughing with Rosie and Mattie. But reality always finds a way to interject and Doris, who sits at the next table just a few feet from me and has a pretty good sense of humor, leaned over to me and asked, "Are you my niece?" I gently assured her I was not her niece and she looked a little confused and just grunted quietly and went back to her dinner. I hoped to myself that I'd never not know if my nephew George is my nephew or not. Then suddenly the nurse yelled at Melvin and I looked over and there Melvin was, pants around knees and diaper unfastened. I was back, business as usual.