Welcome to my world - The world of Tish

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Building a clubhouse and another chapter for Rocks of Ages

Here's a little advice to those well meaning parents choosing to discuss 'possibilities' in front of their children: DON'T! Two minutes of talking about a possible clubhouse with my daughter, and wham, she treed her father the moment he pulled into the driveway Friday night.
"Daddy, I have a project for us to do together." She purred into his ear. What a sucker he is, he fell right into the trap.
"We could build a club house and I'll paint it and you'll hammer it and..." She used the oldest trick in the book: too much information. Before he could wrap his head around the concept of manual labor, the picture painted of his daughter having tea parties and teaching her imaginary class, our son used a different tactical manuever: jumping up and down in delight. He had no chance, poor man. Off to Foreman, AR, for grandparental advice and lumber. What started out as a small clubhouse now has become a small home complete with a porch, possible tin roof, and windows. We'll see what happens with the six planks of wood and concrete post forms.
As for ROCKS OF AGES, it's hard to choose which patients to chronicle from my years in long term care. I was fortunate to have extraordinary people come through my life. Some where patients, others were co-workers. But all of them changed the way I looked at nursing homes and the elderly of this country. There isn't enough blog space for my opinions on these incredible people, some tucked away in a room, others left by their families out of guilt or shame at their condition. Of course, there is a need for nursing homes, I cannot deny that. But what I take issue with is the seldom visited residents that have families within driving distance or the resident that mourns the loss of freedom when a loved one could easily comfort their anxiety and fear of growing old.
Okay, my feet are aching standing on this soap box. Tomorrow I will tackle the problem of weeding out these hidden gems our society fails to notice. And, as a bonus, I'll listen to my daughter's ramblings about adding a second story to the clubhouse.

2 Comments:

  • Tish...your writing is wonderful. I am especially looking forward to "Rocks of Ages" , but you know that is where my heart lies. Just remember to include your "favorite nurse" in your book. Love ya girl...Cheryl

    By Blogger Cheryl, at 7:55 PM  

  • This reminded me of a story I wrote long ago called Paid in Full:


    I never thought about going to the old folks home. Mom said that the Lord had called her and she didn't want to go by herself. Grateful that she wanted to share the experience with me, I agreed to go.


    I didn't much care for the funky smell of medicine, cafeteria food, and fowled up undergarments. It was difficult to let the elderly get close to me, close enough that I could see the bits of food that didn't quite make it out in the denture soak, and smell the breath of a mouth no longer kissed by anyone.


    Sadness in abundance, taking second to loneliness, I walked through the halls listening to the clapping of my shoes against the soiled floor, watching the heads turn one by one. Those who were coherent enough to recognize this stranger, didn't seem to care for the intrusion.


    Mom and I would go to the convalescent center and over time, I sifted through the bitter faces til at last I found the ones I knew I could laugh with. First, there was Les. He was in is seventies and had suffered a stroke. Les could no longer use his left side and his speech was all but gone. Two words remained in his tattered memory and they were "Oh, Boy!" He said them often, he said them loudly, smiling all the while. Mom said it wasn't really a smile, but a consequence of the stroke. I was only ten but I sure knew a smile when I saw one.


    Mom found John, who was eighty-three and incredibly alone. Like Les, John was confined to a wheelchair. Unlike Les, John never smiled. It was when John died that Mom told the Lord that she had answered his call and paid the debt in full. She couldn't handle the death part. I experienced the loss of several friends I'd acquired while volunteering at the convalescent center. Death came in the form of strokes, heart attacks and comas. Death came in peaceful ways and in painful ways. Death came. It bothered me some, but not so much. Its what we do. We all take a turn and as far as I could see it, these people were lucky that they got to wait so long, really having time to explore the "What If's" that happen in the pages between the covers of birth and death.


    Elizabeth was from Latvia. That place doesn't exist anymore and she couldn't figure out why they wouldn't let her go home. I think Elizabeth must have been a wonderful mother. On the days she remembered me, she always touched me as much as she could - on my eyes, my nose. I even let her kiss me on the mouth because her energy was so warm and I knew that if I was her daughter, she would have been beautiful every time she knelt down to kiss me. This time, it was I who knelt for her.


    People who have aged are often cast aside into a collective category of no longer useful. Wisdom is tucked not so comfortably away in the nooks and crannies of what we've learned to call "Old Folk's Homes". Great stories live there. Great benefits come from the experience of taking the time to sit down and listen to things that took place before you were even born. Something happens when we take the time to compassionately read the words from a book that aged eyes can no longer read for themselves. Great benefit is created from giving a smile to a heart who hasn't received one since the mind can remember.


    My debt to humanity will never be paid in full. My respect of the elderly will forever be young. My appreciation of people will never grow old.

    By Blogger Wendi Friend, at 11:44 AM  

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