Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Visit to the Nursing Home

"I can't bear the number of funerals you go to once you get older. I have to find a way to adjust to loss or sentence myself to a life of grieving. So I focus on the immediate, on my children." Jack Nicolson in an interview I read online earlier today.

I understand how my Mom felt attending the funerals of close friends and relatives. It's hard to watch your generation disappearing. It's harder becoming the older generation. After the last of my father's brothers passed away a couple of years ago, a cousin from that side said "Now the top shelf is gone, no more Johhnie Walker Black. We have to go to the middle shelf." Always the alcohol references on that side of the family, but pretty funny just the same.

I miss my Mom - she loved to hear stories about the kids and so many times I've thought "oh I have to tell Mommy that..." or "Mommy's going to laugh at that one..." and then a tear or two forms. It's sad, but necessary - all part of the grieving process. But then I smile. Smile at the memory and our conversations which often centered around the kids.

On Monday I received a call at the office that Julian had thrown up at school. I made a couple of calls and arranged to have him go to my mother-in-law's home until either I or Scissors got home. He stayed home from school yesterday even though he was quite fine. I took him to the nursing home to bring some things for Grandpa. The residents are getting to know Julian although they don't always remember him. He's taking to pretending he's one of the residents and using Grandpa's long shoe horn as a cane and walking the halls talking. I then found him outside one resident's door ushering the resident into his room with a sweeping motion saying "come in." We then went downstairs to the sitting room before we left whereby Julian pretends that he's talking to Louie our dog on the payphone. It's just Julian and myself and Grandpa and one other little lady resident who seems quite vexed that Julian is on the payphone as witnessed by the following exchange:

Resident (sitting stonefaced with a grimace frozen on face): "He's going to hurt himself with that cord."

Me (the uncaring Mom): "It's okay, he's playing pretend."

Resident expression tightens. Julian runs back over to Grandpa and I, then back to the phone.

Resident: "Holler at him! He should hang up that phone!"

Me (the slightly off kilter visitor): "I'm going to holler at you if you keep yelling at my child." Mutter under breath "old crank".

Resident makes a pffft noise at me. Notice that her grimace has turned to a slight smile.

We both feel better now that we've gotten that off our chests and Julian off the payphone as it turns out.

You see why I need to write a blog? Not because I have such great stories to tell but because if I'm not kept off the streets, I may be harassing little old ladies in nursing care facilities.

No good can come of that.


Tom & Icy said...

Life is often not very pretty, but a smile is --Icy

G said...

Icy, that is a beautiful sentiment and has put a smile on my face right now! Thanks. ~ G

Mo'a said...

HeineKen had an Aunt who died 3 months befor her 100th birthday.
One day she said to me "Mo'a remember always to have friends much younger than you, that way you will never run out of friends"
I have taken that advice to heart and I am richer for it.
I love your post...and your nursing home story is a hoot.
It is lovely that you can celebrate your Mother's life even as you grieve your loss. xoxox Mo'a

Kyahgirl said...

your memories of Mom are precious G. It will probably hurt for a long time though. Big hugs to you on that!

About the funerals...I have seen it happening with my parents lives and now its starting to happen in mine. About 20 years ago my Mom told me that her circle of friends had passed on (when she was around 70) so she had to make new ones. Now that she is 90 I've seen the cycle over and over. I think she is truly tired of it and her world has become much, much smaller. A hard thing to handle no matter how you look at it. This year I've loast several people and had a few of own age related health issues so I've come to the conclusion that getting really old sucks.

More big hugs (since I seem to be unable to provide a ray of sunshine today)

Ariel the Thief said...

Are you saying nursing home residents are happier to have dog visitors than children visitors? :-)

Tears and smile, frequent combination...

Nessa said...

Little old ladies in nursing homes are brutal. You have to hold your own or they'll run their wheel chairs right over you; D

Very lovely post.

Anonymous said...


Shanny and Caitlin both did their tour in the "green meadow" - name changed to protect the guilty - in the dining section - Dawn had a more up close and personal view as an aide. - it takes a real special sort of person to do it well. I was laughing out loud thinking of choo-choo ushering the surprised resident into his own room - surprised he didn't bring him out into gramma's garden. Love ya!

Anonymous said...

the good news is that the "stone-faced-yet-almost-smiling" LOL (little old lady) won't remember your snippy remark -- something another of my dear friends used to find fairly comforting back when her mom was still alive, well enough, and creating quite the commotion where she lived!

LOVELOVELOVE this story... and, of course, you. hope little Choo Choo is feeling like his normal happy self again! xox

G said...

Mo'a, I think HeineKen's aunt gave great advice. She sounds like an amazing woman. Thanks so much Mo'a. Yes, Julian + Nursing Home = FunnyStories. Thanks for your warm words and visit.

Kyah, thanks. Yes memories are precious and often all we have to smile at. It's okay about not being a ray of sunshine, your words rang true. And besides sometimes you just need somebody to have a piece of chocolate with and chat :)

Ariel - why didn't I think of it?! Louie, we're going to the nursing home (Scissors being the proud papa already hung a nice big picture of Louie on Grandpa's wall).

Nessa, truer words were never typed. I have to stand firm. And thank you.

Pat, haha - I bet they have some stories to tell (particularly Caits :). But Dawn just seems to be a natural. The thing is moments earlier I was thinking that I'd like to volunteer...

Yes Julian roams the halls looking for action. He reminded me that the lady yelled at him "hang up that phone!" and "she didn't answer when I asked - your Christmas tree?" The sitting room ends up being the equivalent of "Gramma's garden". Love you too and hope you're doing well. XOX

Neva, thankfully she seemed to forget it a moment later. I think I should be taking my meds a bit more diligently :)

Ah, Choo Choo is finer than fine - thanks. XOX

Sweet and Salty said...

What a both sweet and sad story. Life is "funny" that way, or so it seems to me.
I'm sure your mom will always be there in your heart and you'll always wish you could share with her.
I miss my dad. He died back when I was 20 and I now wish I could share my children with him. "That's okay," I say to myself, and it is, but just sometimes.

On a different note, I agree with Nessa; be wary of those senior citizens! They can be tough. I guess they figure they have nothing to lose... (smile)

Shari said...

Loved that exchange. I could just see the interaction in my mind's eye. :) Thanks for sharing. I highly doubt you'd be harassing old ladies telling you how to raise your child. Me? I would just turn a "deaf ear" at them. LOL ;)

I thought about that, too, that most of the older people in my family are gone and now we are the "older" ones. It's a weird feeling.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as if the little old lady didn't really mind.

When I was little I talked to my imaginary friend Seal through the plug to my parents' electric blanket.

tsduff said...

You sure stood up to the test with the elderly gal... I've been so conditioned to respect my elders that I would have felt cowed by her, grumpy as she was. But then, now I'm my own elder... ha ha ha.

Yes, you should bring Louie along for comic relief :) I enjoyed the comic relief provided by Julian.

Claire said...

Oh that story was great. It reminded me of how my son used to pretend to be Tramp (the dog in 'Lady and the Tramp'). When he was little, he'd bark and pant at random people. I got embarrassed (my 1st child, yikes!), but my now departed MIL loved that boy and was utterly charmed by it.
Your funny/sometimes sad stories always give me a warm feeling.

robkroese said...

Good for Julian. Keep those old folks on their toes.

The Johnnie Walker Black line is classic. It should be in a novel.

Doug The Una said...

It seems like in an old folks home, more flies are caught with vinegar than with honey.

This reminds me of the Dan Akroyd skit about the toy maker where he strangles himself with a toy phone cord to show it's just as dangerous as his bag of broken glass.

tsduff said...

Just stopping in to wave through the frosty air at you :) Hope all are having fun in NY land...

Anonymous said...

playing catchup

1) wow, your daughter is amazing... I remember Jamie and Rachel taking violin lessons in school and I made them practice at the end of the garden... it was a very very long garden

2) hope you all had a great Chanukah... mine was awesome; I was with my babies

3) sometimes I think my ma is missing her friends more than my dad! I'm almost on that top shelf; more like almost past my shelf-life!!!!!

take care, be well, shabbat shalom

lotsa luv ann xxxxx

the frogster said...

My first Christmas without my Dad. It feels like something to be endured rather than something to be enjoyed this year. I'm not usually a "let's just get the holidays over with" kind of person, but I do feel a bit like that this year, which may just be par for the course.

My wife says I already sound like a grouchy old man- on Thursday we went to her firm's holiday party and I spent 50% of my time there complaining that the music was too loud (I'm 37). I plan to be the crankiest old man in the history of mankind and love every minute of it.

G said...

Pavel, yeah life is bittersweet a bit of the time that way. I am sure that you are right. My Mom will never leave my heart and is probably smiling at these stories right now.

Oh you got that right, bub. Watch out.

Shari, in some ways she was right as the germ factor was creeping me out, but it kept him busy and that's always good.

Yes the generational shift is subtle yet occurring. weird.

Weirsdo, that makes perfect sense somehow. I think she was a bit daft and just forgot about being angry.

Terry, me too, but only to a certain point. I'm feisty myself as it turns out. Julian always offers a fun slant on the situation.

Claire, oh how I relate to that. My MIL too sees the sun rising and setting on Julian. Our little boys huh? thanks, your comments do the same.

Diesel, he does indeed. That line is a good one, I'll keep it on hand...

Doug, hahaha, it was exactly like that! Yes indeed.

Terry, waving back (blowing vapors)!

Ann, so glad to see you back! Chanukah was quiet but nice this year. I will be around for a visit soon! You're top shelf quality, nothing to do with anything else my dear. XOX

Frogster, I so know what you mean. The new year is on the horizon with hopes for a better one for us all.

Haha, I think you're on your way to fulfilling your plans. Well done.