It was Sunday and one of my two days off for the month. Dad takes Dear Son every other weekend, after he works a full twelve hour day on Saturday, so I get Saturday night, Sunday and then Monday morning to sleep in, sort of, or at least sleep in until I have to get up for work. I had slept in until 7 a.m. on Sunday and came to see my mother in the afternoon. Despite my limited time off, I was looking forward to the visit. No one knows better than me, just how long the days can be, when you are stuck in these facilities. I’ve done enough hospital visits with Dear Son to understand that horrible feeling, as if you are never going home.
What bothers me most about these places are the people in the wheelchairs that sit in the hallways. Most of them are sleeping and look like they are propped up in the chairs to die. I suspect that all of the therapy in the world won’t heal them because the emotional depression will kill them first. The lack of caring on the family members part, is evident in these expressionless bodies. It’s sad really. As I walk down the halls I was reminded of the physical therapy rehabilitation facility that Dear Son went to a few years ago. It was an adult facility that had a small children’s ward or group of rooms. The children’s rooms were located at the end of the hall off the main area. There were electronic codes to access the rooms so that the adult dementia patients or anyone else couldn’t access the children. I spent the whole time there with Dear Son as I normally do, but the part that bothered me the most was the walk down the hallway with all of the wheelchairs lined up. The old men and women littered the hallway so much so that there was barely any space between the chairs. As I would walk down the hall towards Dear Son’s room, a few of the men would yell out at me, trying to get my attention. It was a bit frightening I must say. I guess the first thing that came to my mind that it was more like a scene from , “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” than anything else. In reality, these were nothing more than very lonely people, some with dementia I am sure ,but mostly, just lonely people that had been here a very long time. It bothered me that no one came to visit these people, but it bothered me even more that no one came to visit these kids. One of Dear Son’s former classmates was in the room next to ours and her mother never came to visit in the weeks we were there. I wrote about it here, a very long time ago.
This time though, it was Sunday. I was here to see my Mom and was sitting in the lounge. This place also does manicures for the patients and my Mom was the recipient of a manicure and dry shampoo the other day, both of which she loved. She raved about how nice her nails looked and how good her hair felt. As I waited in the lounge for the staff to help my mother with her “business”, I overheard another lady talking to her mother. The lady was mid sixties, I’d say, dressed very elegantly in black from head to toe. Her mother, some twenty plus years older, sat engaged, in a wheelchair. The lady was giving her Mom a manicure and talking to her as they went along. She was telling her Mom about the car she owned, a Jetta, and how she recently got a magazine from them on how to "jazz up" her Jetta. She explained that they had floor mats with the Jetta logo on them and how she wanted the Jetta sunglasses that she spied in the magazine. She went on to say that she showed her son the sunglasses when her son pointed out that they weren’t sunglasses but tailpipes for the Jetta that had white circles around them! With that, I let out a big laugh, since I just couldn’t help myself. After all, it was too funny. The women were cracking up as well and they delighted in the fact that I found it funny as well. At that moment I thought about the mother in the wheelchair and just how rich she was. She was rich because her daughter had taken time out of her day to spend with her. Not just talk to her but to laugh with her, have a real conversation with her and to pamper her. Yes, she was rich compared to the lady sitting outside the lounge area, just eight feet away, who moaned every three seconds and never stopped. Pain, perhaps. Most likely, just lonliness.
About that time, my ten minutes or so was up. That’s about the time it takes the staff and my Mom to do her “business” in the room so I returned. Sister and friend were there and the three of us talked some more keeping my Mom entertained. My sister had made a blanket for her, with cardinals on it, my Mom’s favorite bird. My Mom has been at the facility for nearly a week and every day my sister has come with new flowers for her. Orange tulips on day 2, yellow daffodils on day 3, yellow roses on day 4, pussy willows on day 5, etc. Sister and I had been splitting up the time with my Mom, making sure one of us could be there every day. We sat around talking, having some good laughs and overall trying to keep my mother’s spirits up. I knew only too well, that the time we spent there would not be long enough. After all, when you are in a hospital or any facility day after day, there is nothing you want more than a home cooked meal, to sleep in your own bed and to be in your own home.
As I waited what seemed like an eternity for the elevator, I heard the staff member talking to the patients in the hallway. He was a chipper man doing his best to keep the spirits up at the facility. He was trying to get a response from a woman regarding whether or not she wanted a manicure. She said nothing and sat there motionless in her chair. In desperation, he gave her a choice: he said, "Would you rather be dumped in the river or have a manicure?" The ladies laughed at his good naturedness and I knew at that moment that he was worth every penny that they were paying him. The elevator door opened and with that I left. As I dropped off the visitor pass, I counted my blessings. With that, the wind hit my face and cold, damp air shocked me back into my own world. How blessed I was to be walking outdoors, to go home and have a home cooked meal, and to sleep in my own bed. Rich I’d say, yes, I am rich.