Another Resident, Says Goodbye

I want to tell YOU, we said goodbye to Karl, last week. He was 86, give or take a few.

I will spare you the descriptive details.

Karl, had Liver cancer. He told me, and my co-workers when he found out he was dying. He did not want anyone feeling sorry for him. This blog is my way, of honoring him the best way I know how.

Karl, lived at our home for over thirty years. He was partially sighted, legally blind in our state, and the state he was originally from. In his younger years when the home was located on South 5th street. He would lead about four or five residents down to a restaurant called the “Chile Parlor.”

One resident told me: We would sit there and eat lunch together. When we were done he would walk us down to Travers, for ice-cream”.

She also told me when he was in the singing group. They had a song they sang, about the states. When they sang about Iowa, he would loudly, sing: Iowa Iowa where the tall corn grows!) and everyone would laugh, during singing practice.

He would always tell you what was going on in our home, gossip style.

Did you hear: Elle (our activity director) switched positions?

What do you think, of men dressing up in women’s clothing? 

Did you know, so and so cheats on his wife? 

Are you still married, do you have children?

He enjoyed all kinds of music, and ordered talking books, all the time. He had a stack of 6 to 7 blue cartridges waiting to be played on his counter. He was always pulled right up to his player, with his chin touching his talking book player which sat on his counter, blaring to smut. He even would adjust the speed of the player to slow motion. We could hear his player down the hallway.

I have worked for the home, sixteen years now. I work with a lot of the same residents, and staff. When a resident dies. I feel as though the home is picked up off the ground, and just THROWN down. The view out our windows of the green trees, flowers, and sun are cropped. The sun from the east side don’t shine in as bright as it once did. The hallway is colder, and un-level, making my rounds harder on my feet.

A few nights before Karl passed away. He shared with me: I have enjoyed my life here, Shelley. I’ve had a lot of laughs, and met some really good people.

Room 134 And Voices On The Radio

I’m working overtime today. Which is nothing new. I was in a funk when I first clocked in.

First, because today is my day off.

2.) This is my eighth straight day in a row.

3.) Once again, I was offered day shift. After sixteen years of working evenings, I had to decline. The way my husband, and I have our schedules work with raising Gabe. My husband works mornings, and I work evenings.

Working evenings, here at the home never ceases to amaze me. I’m always reminded, why I chose this shift.

My schedule was not my only reason.

1.) I wrote of LAUGHTER in my post: She didn’t leave me hanging

2.) I wrote of FAITH in my post: Nosy

3.) I wrote of  LOVE inside both of those post.

Back-paddle to earlier: I’m in a funk making my rounds around the building. One big circle. Karl is in his doorway

Ms. Lady Ms. lady

Could you come over here and help me write a letter? 

Sure I can.

Karl, has developed Dementia these last few years. I’m sure most of his memories are real. I’m just not sure of the timeline. As in, I’m not sure if these people are still living. I will do my best to find out, and I will mail the letter.

In the meantime I want to share with you good people.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin

When I first came to Fairfield many years ago. I heard the voices of you and your wife. Her name is Jen. I heard her voice first. I hope you two are enjoying your retirement? My name is Karl Graff. I would like to tell you about the circus we went to a long time ago. I’m trying to find somebody who knows how I can get the Guidepost on cassette. I forgot the gentlemen who took your place? I always enjoyed your voices on the radio they sounded so good!

Your friend, Karl Graff

 

 

For Some, The Bell Still Rings

A few days before Christmas. A few of the residents asked the CNA if she’d be working on Christmas? She cleared her throat, caught her breath, as she guided five (Visually Impaired) residents into the dining room for supper.

“Yes” she hollered!

A few of the residents, cheered. They told her about gifts their family sent them in the mail. They asked her if she would stop by their rooms, and sit with them so they could open their gifts with her? She said she would be glad too, she only had forty other residents to take care of!

She worked straight through the morning without sitting down to drink her traditional spiked Egg Nog!

Finally, lunch was over, and her choirs were done. She headed down to Karl’s room. She called him Karl because he reminded her of the main character off of the movie  Sling Blade. He  was about three inches shorter, hunched  over, and sounded like him when he talked.

She went into his apartment, and he asked her to grab his box on the bed? She put the box on his lap, and sat directly across from him. The box was taped up on all four sides. He worked hard trying to the pull the tape off himself, for sometime. She didn’t offer to help him right away, she could tell by the smile on his face he was enjoying the fact he had something to open.

He turned the box to each corner to see if one side was easier than the other. He stopped a few times, bringing the box up to his ear and giving the box a shake. She asked him if he would like help? He replied in his raspy, nasally, loud voice, yes! 

She opened one side of the box, and gave it back to him. He ripped the other side open himself, and quickly tossed the wadded paper out that had been put in for padding. The aid could see there was individual presents inside for him to un-wrap.

Karl, was so excited about getting his box open. He pulled his first present out of the box like a rocket-ship over his head, then waved the gift with victory!

look what I got, look what I got, look what got!

Tiny, Mighty, And Picture Incher

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Tiny room, tiny radio, tiny television, and MIGHTY spirit!

I read an article on the Daily Post, encouraging us to post from our phones or tablets. (Which is well worth the read). I’m at work this evening. My showers are done, my medicines are passed, and one resident is walking the halls, and another resident is in the snack room. I have a bit of time on my hands.

Here is a tiny story.

If you follow me, you know I work in a Supportive Living Facility as a Nursing assistant. I work with the Blind, and talk about my residents on occasion. If you’re new to my blog, and have a minute, read here to close in on the buzz.

Friday, our nursing supervisor talked to Emmett about how she needed to cut back on the amount of soda she’s been drinking. She told her to only drink soda on the holidays.

Emmet, agreed and went back to her room.

A few hours later she came out of her room, passed the nurses office, and into the snack room where the soda machine sits.

She puts her first quarter into the machine, and says:

This is for Veterans Day, second quarter, this is for Thanksgiving, and her third quarter this ones for Christmas!

Laughing To The Grave Part 2

Writing on my blog has not been easy lately. I’m not going to lie. I look around at some of your post, and think my God, where can I get a blog like them… It’s not the size, I envy. It’s your writing style, your format, your flow, pictures, fonts, and the time that looks like you put into your blog. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit at the table with my elbow on it, leaning against my hand, for hours. It just makes me more aware of what and how I write. My cohort told me the other night.

“When it comes down to it, what matters is that people understand what you’re trying to say”

A few things have been keeping my family down in the dumps, my husband and I mainly. I won’t go into it too much, because you heard it all before. I would rather make us both laugh, how bout it?

A few weeks ago, Emmet was under the weather, and just not acting normal. My supervisor asked me to take her into the Emergency Room. They were getting her checked in, asking her questions about who, what, when, where, and why.

“Where is it, that you live?”

Emmet: The Jerry Kline Home For The Blind

“What Did you say”

Emmet: She then, slowly, broke-down all the words, and repeated herself

“Ok”

Emmet: busted out singing the nursery rhyme “Three Blind mice”

The same night, my husband and I were getting ready to go to bed. He had stepped out of our room for just a few minutes. I had a pill to take in my hand and of course dropped it. I was in-between the bed and the wall, on all fours, running my hand across the floor, trying to find that tiny thing.My husband walked backed in the room while I was on the hunt. He yells my name like he lost me in a crowd at a carnival. He scared the crap out of me. I pop up and say “What the hell, is going on”

Him: I did not see you, I thought the rapture had taken place and the lord took you instead of me…

My son and I got out-of-town, a few weeks ago. We went to a graduation. It was down by my home-town. On our way back home, we stopped in to see an old friend. Gabe asked them if we could use their bathroom. I went with him, because I had to go as well. He tripped over a toy and put his hand through a hole, which you could tell had been there already. He looks up at me, motions me to come in closer, when I get face to face with him, he looks around and back again at me.

Mom: I think their house is ripping apart!

I know you’re aware we follow Jesus, since my son was born I have let him know he can talk to him anytime. It does not matter where you’re, what you’re doing, it’s as simple as talking to me. The other day he found a spider in our house. He was squatted down, following it around. He motioned me to come look at it and I did. I grabbed a shoe and smashed it!

Gabe: JESUS, LOOK OUT!

Felix

Felix Silla, lived in room #106. He was short, hairy, bald, with light brown hair on the sides of his head, and on the back of his head too. His right leg wouldn’t bend when he walked, and his left leg dragged. He would always wear shorts that grazed his knees and a tee-shirt that hugged his firm body. The tee-shirts he wore never came down past his waist line. He would smile every-time you say something to him, even the simplest hello. When someone would make a joke or say something funny, he would put his right hand over his open mouth, the palm of his hand facing out and throw his head back.

It’s been a long time, Felix. I still feel joy, when you come to my mind.

On Saturday mornings, I used to put out mail. In the residents mail boxes. Once it was passed out. I made an announcement over the intercom. Felix was always the first one down and others soon followed. He would grab his talking-books he ordered or if  he had an envelope he would shuffle to the desk where I sat, and ask me who it was from. And then quietly go back to his room. I don’t know why Felix stood out to me at mail time. It might have been the way he struggled a bit to get down to the mail box so fast to see if there was something waiting for him.

When we went to supper all the residents and him would joke around. They would call him Alpo: One time, he went shopping, and grabbed a can on accident.(This happens a lot because my residents are blind.) There was no shame in Felix game he announced it to everyone one night during supper, and that was always the going joke.

When he would come to the medicine desk at eight-o-clock. He would carry a red, white, and black transistor-radio. He would sit it up on my counter, turn it down, and say”You getting tired yet Shelley” I would tell him. Yes I was, until you showed up! he would turn red, put the back of his hand over his open mouth and throw his head back laughing. He took his medicine and headed straight back to his room.

When I noticed Felix being a bit more quiet and not AS prompt. I would make a pit stop by his room, after all my meds were passed. He would be laying there toward the wall, curled up, with that red, white, and black transistor-radio, tucked inside the circle of his arm listening to music. I’d ask him if he was okay or if there was anything I could do? He’d tell me his neck hurt. I asked him if I could rub it for him. And he said “yes Shelley”

I feel pensive whenever Felix comes to my mind. He comes often. He was one of the first resident who showed me the meaning of humble, not the definition. The way he lived his life. Simple, sweet, funny, and quiet.

The night he passed he was holding on to that red, white, and black transistor-radio

 

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I can’t let it go, Felix.

 

 

 

 

Nosy

Some years back, we had a male resident at my present job. He was visually impaired, stood about 5 ‘1, thin, and buzzed light brown hair. His room had nothing on the walls, dresser, or bed. He hung around one lady at the home. Once a week a man my age now, would take him out to eat. When doing my med pass one night I walked by his door. I saw him sitting on the edge of his bed. I backed up a few steps and stood there looking in. One because he was as still as someone with a Bee on the end of their nose and secondly because I’m nosy.

He started to pray

“Thank you for the trees and leaves, thank you for the birds that sing, thank you for the rain and the sunshine, the cold days and the hot days, thank you for the good days and the bad days”

Every night Until the day he left I joined him in prayer at his door. This may have not been the right thing to do but because what I felt inside his prayer it felt right. This past few weeks have been rough.

Ten years and this prayer has come back to me and many other times as well. I can’t help but think all those years he spent praying, was for me.
To bring me back to what counts in life. I’m so thankful for that time I was on the outside looking in.

Update

Longstockings, is in her mid forties. Years ago she developed a rare brain disease. The disease has affected her eyes, speech, and walking.  It’s not a fatal disease but it has come with neurological problems.

You can’t walk past her room without her calling out your name to either show you some move she learned in exercise or to complain about the argument her and her mother had.

Her parents are involved in our home activities. Her mom helps the activity director  with the residents when taking them to the Muni, fundraisers, Special Olympics, and she always helps me organize Longstockings room

Her siblings that live in our town will also show up to our chili supper, Christmas party, and once in a great moon to fix or give her something.

This particular brother that she had on the phone the other night lives In another state. He don’t get in as much as the others, however he will call, write, and send updated pictures to her.

He did make it to the home. He brought his wife and kids. They played a few  games in then went out for pizza!

 

Reminder

I was in a residents room giving her, her medicine. She asked me to write down a phone number her  brother had left on her answering machine. I was just about to push play when the phone rang. I answered the phone “Longstckings  room”

“This is her brother, can she come to the phone”?

“Sure”

I handed the phone to her and she motioned me to wait there till she got off the phone. I stood listening to their conversation about how he would be home this year for Christmas. She had a smile from ear to ear on her red flushed face. She asked him how his kids were doing, his wife, and how long he would be here. She answered back  “Oh wow” and quickly her voice changed and her smile came down a few notches “I know you have to see your wife’s side of the family too.” The next questioned he asked was what she wanted for Christmas? She paused for a minute then said she could use a photo album, cold coffee, and cookies. She then said “you know what you could really do for me”?

Bring the girls to the home and can all go down to the dining room and listen to you play a few songs on the piano.

Laughing To The Grave

Too Soon

Can anything be funny or are some things off-limits?

In my opinion, there are times you need to be serious and try not to make light of a situation. I also believe in serious moments, humor happens. Here are a few examples.

After our twins were born. The hospital gave us an option to have a visitation, people could come and see Willy and Gabe before they took them. I wasn’t for sure I was up to it or not but my husband had purchased mementos he wanted to give to everyone. That night all my friends, his parents, and brothers came up to visit. I was sitting up in bed, most of my friends were sitting on the side with me. A nurse who was assigned to my room when they first diagnosed my Premature Labor came in to tell me she was sorry to hear about my loss. She did this out of  genuine compassion because she was not assigned to me during this time. The whole room was quiet as she expressed her sympathy, which wasn’t easy at all for her to do. The only noise you could hear was people catching their breath and sniffing. My friend Sarah pats my arm, gets up off my bed, walks over and pulls a wad of kleenex out of the box and blows her nose like an eighty year old man in the doctor’s office with a hanky!  My friend Allison was the first one to laugh than me and after that there we all were!

I also chose for the hospital to put the funeral on for Gabe and Willy. Which took us to a cemetery here in town, it’s a big cemetery. They have a designated area for the babies, on top of a hill. You have to walk over another hill before you get to the top of this one. My mom, me and my friend Allison were watching people as they were trying to carefully walk down this muddy hill. One lady wasn’t so lucky as the mud got the best of her. To the ground she went and rolled like a barrel all the way down…

My dad is the serious one in my parents marriage. He secretly digs my moms humor, which sometimes involves him. Not long ago we were all out to eat together. We got on the subject of an acquaintance of theres who had a spouse that recently passed. They had found another companion. I asked my mom if she thought it was weird that she was “back in the saddle”. My mom says. “Shelley not at all, I’m engaged to be married the day after your dads funeral…” I laughed hard as my dad sat there shaking his head, rolling his eyes, and not even giving the slightest smile.

We have talked many times about where I work. My residents are Visually Impaired. When one of them passes on its hard for some of are residents to get out and go to their funeral. We have memorials here in the building in honor of the resident who passes away. This allows residents to be able to talk about their “good times”. We did this recently for “Jack” when he died. We had quite a few who came down. They sat in the dining-room. We have couches that make a square all the way around the room, They started from right to left, “Emmet” was on the other side which would make her last. They let everyone know that they had to wait their turn. Each one of the residents were standing up telling the preacher about one thing they remember doing with “Jack” or something funny he said. All the other residents and staff quietly sat and listened meanwhile Emmett was raising her hand, standing halfway up to try to raise it further, she would get tired of holding that hand up and start in with the other, grunting, moaning, whispering pick me pick me…

I call these “hold Ons” constellations to shine down on us in times of darkness giving us hope and a future.