Last week was National Nursing Home week. Being the procrastinator that I am, I missed it- so what I planned to do last week, I will do this week.
Before The Little One was born, I worked in various nursing homes. Through the span of seven years I held several positions in different departments. Two of those years were spent as Director of Recreation for a facility that primarily cared for the indigent and lower income patients. Of all my jobs, this was by far my favorite. It was a job that allowed me to spend a lot of time with people individually. I was able to really get to know my residents and their families- people that I quickly came to love. I held this position at a particularly difficult time in my life. My residents became my family and they will forever hold a special place in my heart.
I learned more about life in those two years, than I had in all my years before. I experienced grief, death, hope, healing and things that were nothing short of a miracle. I truly believe the events that led me to that point enabled me to share myself fully with those who were often alone, scared and depressed. I made it my mission to make their world a better place for the ten or so hours I was there- to share with them love and compassion, a bright spot in an otherwise dull and pain filled existence. Only, now looking back do I realize that I was the one who was the receiver of things greater than I could comprehend at the time. I learned to love others as they are with no expectations. I learned to cherish each moment, never knowing when it will be your last.
I quickly developed a fascination for their stories. I wanted to know who they had been and where they had come from. I would spend hours of my day just listening, knowing that what they wanted most was to be heard. During those talks, my history books came alive as they relived the Depression, the Civil Rights movement and various wars. It was during this time that I developed a particular fondness for the Alzheimer's/Dementia and psychiatric patients. I can’t explain why, as I’m not really sure myself, but those were the ones who I often spent extra time with and those are the ones who I remember so clearly to this day.
And so this week, I will share with you some of their stories, in honor of the men and women who fought, struggled and paved the way for life as we know it today. I will try to pick a few of my favorites, though that will be difficult, as there are so many. My co-workers would snicker when I would say “Oh, Mr./Mrs. So-and-so, he/she is my favorite resident!” for they knew that out of 100 residents at least 60 of them were my “favorite“. I hope that I do their stories justice, and I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I did every time I heard them. Tomorrow I will share the story of two friends reunited after over 40 years- it really is an amazing account!
Other Posts in this series: The Nursing Home and Me Part 2- Reunited, The Nursing Home and Me Part 3- Russell, The Nursing Home and Me Part 4- It's Not Always as it Appears, The Nursing Home and Me Part 5- Miracle at Ellis Island.