Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Crazy Life – September 11, 2011 – The Nursing Home

            I haven't posted in a while - my apologies. I have had some issues that needed dealing with. Life is still a little strange but I'm back. My guess would also be that I will no doubt stir up some controversy with this post. It is not my intent to do so. 

            I was sitting at the nursing home this afternoon and being a people watcher, I did what I do – people watched. And, as I people-watched, thoughts began to run through my head and my hand started to twitch, and as all of you writers out there know, that is an indication that pen and paper are needed.

            My husband’s band plays at the local nursing home’s monthly birthday party that they host for the residents. I used to attend every month, but frankly, I found the nursing home too depressing. So, I quit going. My husband also provides the music for the Sunday morning rosary each week. Hubby donates a significant amount of time playing music for charitable events and in an effort to spend more time with him, I have begun tagging along (once again.) When you are married, that is what you do when you want to spend time together.

            Well, I am sitting here today, at this moment, at the nursing home while my husband and his band entertain the residents. I have been sitting here for over an hour watching people- mainly the residents.

            There is an elderly man who has taken up residence on one of the sofas in the common area and has been there since before we arrived. He has been sleeping since I scoped out my chair, and has not shown any indication of waking up. I found myself staring at him, wondering what he was like along his journey of life. An image came to mind of him as a small boy playing with a toy. I wondered what he was like as a young man – married and with a family. I also thought about how he ended up here, on a sofa, in the nursing home.

            There is another elderly man sitting in his reclining wheel chair, his mouth open, sleeping. He has not moved since I have been sitting here. I wonder why he has brought here to the common area. Shouldn’t he be in his room? He does not appear to be aware of his surroundings.

            Hubby is singing Mustang Sally. The dance floor is full in the next room where they have set up. Those who can dance are dancing. Volunteers and visitors are pushing other residents around the floor in their wheelchairs. They are enjoying themselves if their smiles are any indication.

            As I gaze around the cafeteria, I notice the tables shoved against the walls. The residents form a “u” around the room, all sitting in wheelchairs. Most are smiling and nodding their heads in time to the music. I am watching through the slats in the blinds that cover the windows that separate the common area from the cafeteria. It is quieter here and I can sink into my thoughts.

            The chairs scattered around the common area are filled with elderly – all in a different state of slumping slumber. I guess the common area here is akin to our living rooms and family rooms at home where we sit in privacy in various stages of slumber, our mouths surely hanging open as well, as we struggle to breathe while suffering from seasonal allergies.

            Have you ever sat in a nursing home and wondered about the story behind each person, wondering about your own story? As I look up and check out the partying in the cafeteria, I notice one of the band member’s wives taping their performance – namely my Hubby at this point. He is singing “It’s only make believe” and I have to admit the way he growls at the beginning is sexy. I hear catcalls. This wife has been taping every performance for years, and the guys in the band receive a copy for Christmas. I sometimes wonder if they ever sit and watch any of the tapes. I know we don’t. Being there is actually enough – do not need to re-live it!

            Someone just woke up the sofa man. He is not impressed – or pleased. I think he wants to be left alone and to go back to sleep. They made him cry. Now, he is moaning loudly.

            With the cake cutting at an end, some of the helpers have taken to the dance floor. A few of them are very good.

            I do not really like coming to the nursing home. It takes me far from my comfort zone. Maybe sometimes that is what we need. This nursing home is new and much nicer than the old one. The old building had a horrible stench that would almost knock you over when you walked through the door. I sit in the corner and read and write. I keep my head down, concentrating on my task, trying, (and hoping) to be invisible.

            The band is breaking down. The aids are wheeling some of the residents into the common area. They wheel them in, park them, and then return to the cafeteria for another. The common area is beginning to look like a wheelchair parking lot. One resident is sitting with her mouth hanging open, staring into space. Another, fidgeting, looking afraid; while another is talking non-stop to no one. The sofa man is sitting up now and making strange noises.

            I suppose the reason I do not enjoy coming to the nursing home is that it scares me. It forces you to think, and with an imagination like mine, those thoughts can be scary. Will I end up here or in another facility like this? Will I be out of it, left in a wheel chair with my mouth hanging open? Wouldn’t I prefer to be left in my room? Morbid thoughts, but some we are forced to face.

            When I talk about my thoughts to Hubby on the way home, he has a good answer – he always does. No matter what state people are in, they do not deserve to left in a room all alone. I guess he is right about that. It is strange how one person can put things into perspective at times with a short sentence.

            I had a strange day and thought that I would share my thoughts. I’m human. These were my thoughts as the afternoon progressed. You are welcome to comment – just hold the bashing. We are who we are, and we think what we think.

Donna ‘Lucy’


  1. Why would anyone bash you for being honest with your thoughts and sharing them? I think a lot of people (if they were being honest) would find that situation uncomfortable.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

  2. I totally understand why you would feel uncomfortable, a lot of people feel that way. I was raised with and was very close to my grandparents and great-grandma - I was ALWAYS around older people. So I actually find comfort in being around the elderly, even the grumpy ones. :) I LOVE talking to them and hearing their stories and imaging that time and place so many years ago. And a lot of them enjoy telling their stories, but don't have anyone to tell them to. Try talking to some of the more alert people and you might hear some really amazing things. :)

  3. I thought it was a beautiful way to share your thoughts and your heart with us. Thank you for being bold enough to share!

    I haven't been to a nursing home since I was in high school and our youth group brought Christmas cookies for the residents and put on a Christmas party. It was fun, and I learned so much from the wisdom the residents spouted, but there were times I definitely felt uncomfortable. But along the lines of what your hubby said, if I was a resident of a nursing home, I would want to have moments of cheer and people who care sharing an important time with me. Even though it'd be much easier (and quieter) just staying in my room. ;)

  4. I feel uncomfortable in nursing homes as well. I just never know what to do, say, or think.

  5. Geez, Donna, I know exactly what you mean about nursing homes. It's difficult to be there. I had a similar experience with a volunteer situation I really wanted to be a part of. It was working with girls caught in teen-aged pregnancy with no where to turn. Once I was there for a while, I saw how dysfunctional and nearly impossible it was to get through to the young girls who really were more focused on their boyfriends than on their babies. I began to feel smothered by the whole thing...the dysfunctional conversations and hopelessness got to me. Sometimes it seems like the mountains are too high to climb.
    I know that God gives special gifts to those whom He places in these areas of care. He has to! We are each called to do our thing in an out-reach to and for others. But just as we aren't all able to write, we aren't all able to be present in nursing homes...
    Thanks for sharing your honest feelings and thoughts, Donna.

  6. Thank you all for commenting and for your support. I have two sisters who are nurses and in our family, I normally leave that to them. I am the aunt who runs the errands, cooks, organizes things, and takes care of the kids. You are so right about all of us being called do different things.

  7. Stopping by from BSN to follow you. I am a home stager and decorator and would love you to follow me - also a 50+ year old.
    Love your blog design - very attractive and colorful. Follow me at http://encorehomestagingredesign.blogspot.com


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