Nursing Home Days   Leave a comment


Driving home from my 58-year-old cousin’s funeral with my whole being full of emotions and with a plan to stop and see dad at the nursing home, I found myself deep sighing and with a tear here and there along this mile or that. This is my second funeral in two months, and I see my dad’s coming and my aunt’s who is the mother of the cousin who had just died. My cousin’s mother fell a few weeks ago and the hip surgery took its toll. Her dementia increased and she does not know her daughter died, a blessing for her. Her funeral will not be far off either, and then I started worrying about a couple other relatives, but told myself to “stop.” Everyone dies and if the person who dies is loved by someone then the death will hurt that survivor.  It can be no other way, and it’s hard. The minister’s promise of my cousin walking on the gold paved walkways of heaven or some such talk fell short in comforting me. What a pleasant childish view of an afterlife, but comfort is comfort.

I arrived at the nursing home and walked towards dad’s room, or his cabin as he called it last time, and found him sitting in the hall outside the room. His shirt was unbuttoned. He was awake and I greeted him. He seemed happy to see me for a minute, but then asked me to take him to his pick up.

“It’s not here, dad.”

“Where is it? It’s at Becky’s house.”

“Yes, I think that’s where it is.”

“I need to get my pickup, so I can get to work.”

“You’re retired. You don’t have to work so hard, now.”

“I would be better off at home.”

“You are getting stronger with the therapy and that’s good. If you were home, there would not be anyone there to help you to the bathroom.”

“I walked to the bathroom last night by myself. I was shaky but I made it. So maybe another month or two here.” He could not make it to the bathroom by himself, but has tried several times. His bed is lowered close to the floor and a mat is on the floor, and he gets himself to the mat before the staff can reach him when the alarm sounds.

“Well, that’s good. you are getting stronger.”

“You guys must think I’m stupid.”

“I don’t think you are stupid at all.”

“I need to work.”

“Now’s the time for you to take it easy. That’s what you can do when you’re retired.”

“Yes, but that was the past, and this is now and I need to work. I have to take that puppy to Becky, too. It ran off.”

“Becky has the puppy. Remember, she brought it in the other day to see you.”

He smiled and said, “Yes, it licked me.”

“You always brought a dog home to us if we didn’t have one. That must be why I love dogs so much. Do you remember that?””

“Yes. I remember.”

“Do you remember when you brought the baby rabbit home in your lunchbox. And said, ‘Guess what’s in it”

‘Yes , but that rabbit. Something happened to it.”

“You and Becky and I took the rabbit across the creek near our house in Belle Fouche and let it go.”

“Shall I push you around for a while?”

“Yes, go straight ahead.” I don’t think Becky should marry that guy. She hasn’t known him very long.”

It seemed too long a story to go through the years she’s been married etc. so I said”You don’t?”

“I suppose it’s none of my business.”

“Yes, it is your business.”

We traveled the same small trip we’ve taken before down a few hallways to locked doors. One faces the cemetery.  I checked out the lunch menu because Dad told me that they were feeding him pig and he didn’t want it and they kept coaxing him to eat and he wasn’t happy about that. The menu said fried chicken, but it would be pork roast for dinner that evening. He seems to always name the animal not the dish. And according to him, it’s been donkey, mule, rabbits, pig and cow.

We returned to his room and he was very sleepy, so I asked the staff to help him onto the bed. A large male staff person and a woman came to the room, and talked very nicely to him and encouraged him to stand with help and take the three side steps towards the bed, and then with lots of help, he laid down and looked very tired, vulnerable and old. I told him I would see him soon. And then cried my way to the car. Like the title of Leonard Cohen’s book “Beautiful Losers.” We are all beautiful losers in one way or another.  I mean that in a most sincere, sad, glorious, amazing way in regard to life and the people who live and the people who die.

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Posted September 17, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Have a Chair

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