Day 11-18 at the Nursing Home   Leave a comment


These days have blurred together in my mind as well as Dad’s. My cousin, Kenny, and Aunt Jenny stopped to see him. Dad never mentioned it, but they did tell me a week later or I would not have known that he’d had extra company that day. Jenny said that he knew them and they had a good conversation. Dad just had trouble finding the words sometimes. This had been happening to him for several months, but we always told him that it happens to all of us at times.

Dad’s children and grandchildren are trying to visit on different days, so he has at least a visitor everyday or every other day. I saw him on Sunday, which was yesterday as I write this post. It seems that his search for the words and what he ends up saying make him seem less confused and more like we play a strange word association game. On this day, he called his room a cabin and said it is the first door on the right. The location was right, and a cabin sounds much nicer than a crowded and shared nursing home room. Ed and I got in trouble for helping dad out of his wheelchair and into his recliner. He might fall and the nursing staff is better able to do this. We apologized. They caught us because I forgot that Dad was sitting on an alarm pad in the wheelchair that goes off if he get up. I seem to set off one alarm or another when I am there, and one time ended up sitting on the alarm pad in a wheelchair, because I made the mistake of sitting on it and then when I stood, the alarm went off, and I couldn’t see or reach the place to shut it off.

Dad said that the donkey he had for one meal was not good, but his lunch that day tasted better than any food had since he arrived. He looked at me and said, “How’s mom.” I paused, and said, “Mom died two years ago.”

“Yes, I know,” he said not surprised at my answer.

“Have you seen her,” I asked.

“Just at a distance. But there is another lady here using her name.”

“Using the name Ruth Jackson?”

“Yes, I didn’t know that happens, that they would do that.”

“Using other people’s names?” I asked.

“Well, that they shear a person like a sheep when they put them in the casket.”

“Hmmm.”

That was stretching my word association idea a bit far, but maybe shearing and cremating don’t seem too separated as strange things to imagine when the end is closer than ever before, and one has time to sit and consider.

“I talked to Becky Bauman from Doctor Packard’s (Bjorling)office, and she said to tell you hello. She told me that they really liked seeing you and how much Dr. Packard likes you. Becky told me how friendly you always were and cheerful. She said that you had been coming there for your treatments as long as she had been there, and they miss seeing you.”

“Yes, I know they liked me. I wish I was there now. They had a trailer on wheels that just rolled up when you wanted to eat.”

“Our Becky talked to Babe(dad’s sister) did she tell you?”

“Yes, she did”

“Babe always took good care of you didn’t she?”

“Yes, she did.” And his chin shook a little and tears ran down his cheeks. I rubbed his arm. Tears ran down my cheeks and then Ed teared up.

Dad asked for a kleenex.

I held the photos that my niece, Mariah, had brought him of her two little girls and her brother Gunnar’s two little ones. I picked them up and we looked at them, and talked about how cute they are.

Ed said, “You are lucky to have such a nice big family. You are very lucky aren’t you, Joe.”

And Dad looked up and said in the most genuine response, “Oh, yes I am.”

There is protective facade that he always had that is gone now. He doesn’t laugh something away that is said, or say yes, but they should…

His mind is confused at times but he knows he is old and in the nursing home, sometimes he thinks it’s the hospital and that it has more than one floor, but he completely understands that he is in this place because he is old and not well.

Dad asked to look at the picture of him, mom and the five children.

He said, “You need education to get a good job.”

“It helps, but you worked hard and did okay.”

“Yes, I did.”When I worked in Buffalo hauling logs, my boss said that I could back up a truck better than anyone, and he was right about that. I wish I could live by a river.”

“That would be nice.” Buffalo and Sheridan are nice. Pretty there. I wasn’t born yet was I? I remember living in Gillette and Belle Fouche, SD.”

“No, you weren’t born. We had a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.”

We talked a little more about Gillette.

“What grade did you finish?” I asked because it seemed that I never got the same answer through the years.

“Third grade I think.”

“But we have a picture of you in a basketball uniform and you look about 12 or 13. Yes, I did play basketball, so maybe I was a little older.”

“How about Fred and Dutch?” I asked about his brothers.

“Fred was smart and skipped some grades in school, but quit in 8th grade and Dutch didn’t go that far.”

“How about Marg, Babe, the twins Leota and Leona and Maxine?”

“Marg went to school to fix hair and so did Onie (Leona).”

“Did they go to high school.”

“Yes, they did.”

“Maxine married  young like 16, didn’t she?”

“Yes, and she married that goofball. Couldn’t trust him, he’d be your best friend and then pull a knife on you.”

Dad was getting tired, and I said we’d better go but would be back sometime next week.

Ed shook Dad’s hand and  said, “We’ll be back. I know you like company. I know you want to see Mary, but I’ll come along, too sometimes.

“I like to see you both. Yeah, we’ll see you. Bye.

“Bye, dad.”

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Posted September 6, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

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