Saturday, January 24, 2009

Nursing Homes

My opinion about nursing homes changed this morning. My former experiences with them have been awkward or kind of depressing.

When I was thirteen my grandmother passed away. Every so often my mom would make Kelsey and I jump into our old Jeep Cherokee to go visit Grandma. Usually my sister and I deeply dreaded having to drive to North Carolina and back within a two day period, and having to sit in a small room listening to my mom and grandma talk. I don't recall half of the conversations they had. Often my mom would ask Kelsey and I to leave the room, or my Grandma would ask me to go play the piano. I didn't know how to play at all, but she liked hearing me play around on it.

She had two high addictions I will never forget:

1.) Smoking
2.) Once she quit smoking, she resolved to debbie cakes. Gotta love the healthy transition.

When my grandma used to smoke around me I had to leave because I would get sick and almost throw up. How ironic, since I later picked up the habit myself for a brief time period and never experienced those physical effects! Let me just say that the longterm physical effects of smoking were apparent in my grandma's appearence. She had that smoker's skin, with more than average amount of freckles and faint yellow skin tint.

Later on the debbie cakes replaced cigarettes. Being a kid you'd think my face would light up at the sight of a box of sugar and an invitation to diabetes, but I got sick of seeing her eating them. Ugh, I hate debbie cakes now! hahah

The last time I saw her she was on a breathing machine in a hospital. Her health just got worse and worse, and then she died. I could see it coming, ofcourse like everyone else in the fam. I think that for years my mom always thought that each visit we gave might possibly be the last. Which is important to remember when a family or friend is in critical condition, but that fact never ruined our visits.

Seeing someone die slowly helps you accept others' deaths in the future. My grandfather once saw my reaction to hearing about someone's death, how I remarked how awful it was for someone to pass away. And he replied, "You just aren't used to it yet." And he didn't say this in a negative tone, because my grandfather looked very peaceful when he said it. Death is, as everyone knows, a part of everyone's life. Thankfully no one I've been really really really really close to has died. I've seen what loss does to other people, after my grandma died. I find it interesting how people invade your house with flowers, and that even when you throw the flowers out the house still smells like Lowe's greenhouse. I think this tradition should be shifted. People's houses should be filled with hugs and prayer instead of a plant. Plants can't hug you. Especially cactuses, I don't recommend trying that out.

But back to the original topic at hand.

Nursing homes. Facilities with some residents older than the concept of nursing homes. Within their doors lies a world of age and experience, of some fragile bodies with big minds. Hayley, Shannon, Sydni, Vania, Hannah Merchant, and Melissa...uhh...darn I feel bad but I forgot her last name, and I all went to Lucy Corr Nursing Home this morning bright and early! At first I was a little nervous (what's new) about going to visit the old folks. Because my grandma's nursing home was miniscule and sad. And...the smell was not pleasant, I'll be honest. Lucy Corr, though, is the Hilton Hotel compared to my grandma's Motel 6. I almost asked the guide where the bar and swimming pool was. Speaking of the guide, she got kind of mad at me since I ran into the bathroom while the rest of the group trailed behind her. Then once I went to go into the room they were at I almost set the alarm off, and left the bathroom door open which bothered her. It's always an adventure!

One of the residents was in trying to get through one of the doors at one point during our tour, and our nice guide asked her where she was headed. The resident looked up and said with a smile, "Imma bout to beat a bitch." It's always an adventure.

All of us broke up into groups of 2. Sydni and I were in a group together. She had brought with her a bag of nail stuff to do ladies' nails if they wanted them done. The first lady was lovely. A 93 year old with an open personality. I couldn't believe she was 93! Sheesh I felt like a fetus compared to her. But I gained respect for someone who's lived that long. I wonder if there's anything she hasn't experienced in life. She's had quite an amount of time to check things off her list of things to do. I hope I have a great deal of things checked off of my list when I'm old. The thing that was strange was that I didn't talk at all. And I didn't want to, I wanted to listen to this lady talk! Sydni asked some cool questions, thankfully, that generated some rad answers.

The second lady told us she had twelve brothers and sisters in order to manage thier farm in Alabama!! Wow. She's lost two of her three sons along with her husband. At the end when Sydni asked if there was anything else she wanted to tell her about, the lady said she won the jackpot once! and that she still has money to this day from it! Well, we aren't sure if this is true, since when Sydni told the guide about it she looked confused or surprised. It's always an adventure.

Afterwards all of us went to get pizza. So much fun! No one was there so I danced in my chair and started being loud. Surprise! I have a feeling we will be visiting that nursing home again soon, along with pizza or some variation of food afterwards. I sense a great bond coming from this, I could sense a memory generator from doing this. Can't say I'd forget what happened today.

My opinion about nursing homes has changed. Not everyone in there suffers from some epic sickness, although many of them do unfortunately. But I saw the importance of these people being visited, how it could turn around their day. During the conversation with the second lady we saw, Sydni said, "I'm doing this because I want people to come visit me one day when I'm in a nursing home." I agree with what she says. I'm not looking forward to being in a nursing home, but if that's what it comes to, then I'd enjoy meeting strangers who'd want to provide that company they usually don't recieve. Until then, I'll try to keep those people in mind.

I prayed this morning before leaving to go that God let me see nursing homes different, and not feel completely uncomfortable as I used to. It's true that while being there I felt some emotional difference, but it wasn't sadness, it was more so care for the people that were there. Makes me thankful I don't have to sign out in order to go see a movie or have someone help me walk to lunch.

John Irving, in The World According to Garp, wrote that people are born without being able to help themselves as babies, then grow into managing themselves, and (in some cases) die not being able to help themselves anymore. I could see that today. I wonder what goes on the minds of these people who have lived so much, and yet, physically, are able to do little. It shows the heart and mind really do live longer than our outer frames.


Beth said...

You are an amazing writer. Loved this.


YesNoMaybeSo said...


and i've only read half of it actually, a few years ago haha! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Cider House Rules though, that is one of my favs. Maybe I should pick up Garp again sometime soon! Thankyou for reading!