Tuesday, April 20, 2010

King and Queen of the nursing home

I hate going to the nursing home. Specifically, I hate the locked unit where Grandma Jenny lives.

I know the code to get in my heart. But when I walk into that's hotter in there than anywhere else in the facility and it smells. Bad. There are people yelling at each other and to people we can't see. They hit sometimes. Never me but I've seen two women get into it.

It's sad in there. It feels forgotten. Like the people in there have been forgotten.

Everytime I go in Jenny knows me, the nurses know me, but the other residents think I'm someone else. I'm their sister. I'm there neighbor. I'm a nurse. I'm that woman who ordered a cheeseburger from them back in 1948. I've been told my whole like that I look like someone else people know and I guess in the dementia unit that becomes even more true.

So to recap, the residents don't know me.

But. But. They know my children.

I walked in to get Jenny for her birthday party and had no less than 2 women ask me where my baby was. Another, who doesn't talk, made a cradle with her arms, smiled at me and rocked it. The nurses asked where he was.

Everytime I go in without him, people talk. They ask. Jenny makes me promise we'll bring him back with us so she can show him off.

When we do bring him we get mobbed. I used to carry him in. But people started trying to wrench him out of my arms. (One succeeded actually, I thought Micah was going to have a heart attack while my non-talking friend rocked the baby and sang Glory Glory Hallelujah to him) So we bring him in his car seat carrier. Except that isn't heavy enough for them not to try and run off with him. Early on one of the ladies at the home named Betty tried to steal him from me and claimed she was his mother. It was odd.

Now we try and bring him in the carrier and stroller. It's high enough up for people to see him but heavy and unwieldy enough where they don't try and steal him. Much.

The child I'm most proud of though is Lizzie.

When Jenny first went to the locked unit I talked to her about what she would see in there. That sometimes it's scary. These people like to play pretend all the time but they don't know they are playing pretend. I told her to stay close, hold my hand and tell me if she was scared.

Lizzie loves going to visit Jenny. She's calls it Granny's house, which is cute and is well behaved. She wants to go in and visit. And when I bring her in the residents ooh and awwww over her too. One tried to pick her up the other day. They hug her. They touch her. They hold her hand. Sometimes, like last week, they talk nonsense to her.

And she just smiles and hugs back and holds their hands and makes new friends. She isn't afraid. She plays right along with them and never tells me she doesn't want to go in. Even when I've offered it.

People that seem abandoned don't feel abandoned when they are talking to their daughter, granddaughter, niece, best friend or whoever they think Lizzie is. They light up. They love. They remember good times. Always good times it seems.

So while I think the nursing home can feel depressing, my kids sure have the ability to make a depressing place feel a little more like home for the other people there. The nurses tell me, it makes a difference.

Amazing how universal children can be, even in that state, even when you don't know anything anymore.



I'm so glad you go and visit Jenny at the nursing home and that you bring the kids. I remember how hard it was to go and see Dad when he was in the veteran's home. He always seemed to know us - but it was kind of scary for the kids to see all of the other people there. Older people always love to see little kids! Keep it up as long as you can.
Love, Aunt Connie


Thanks for always visiting and never skipping out
because you are too tired or busy. Without you four
I couldn't do it. You have shown more love and done
more for Jenny since september than 95% of her so called
family or friends have done in a lifetime and I appreciate it!

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