Sunday, March 15, 2009

Memories - The nursing home, 1981

When I was in 5th grade, around 10 years old, I lived with my family in an apartment that was attached to a nursing home. My father was the head nurse so he had to be available at all times, day and night, since death was a daily thing. The apartment had a door that opened to the nursing home. To me it was a door to a wonderland, full of good and bad adventures. I knew, even at my young age, none of my friends would ever have these experiences.

The good:  Old people love kids, so I received a lot of attention from the residents and was always welcome. I helped play bingo, do exercises, I loved to help in the kitchen setting up the trays with silverware, salt, pepper, etc. I remember feeding the elderly residents that could not feed themselves. I wheeled them around the home to places like the in-house beauty parlor. 

I remember having a friend come over for a sleepover and taking her on "my" elevator and going down to the kitchen for ice cream which was like Baskin Robbins, minus 25 flavors. But hey, 6 flavors was more than most have in their home. My very favorite thing to do was deliver the mail, everyone loves to get mail especially, the lonely. I remember reading the mail to one lovely lady that was blind.

The bad: Speaking of delivering the mail, one day as I knocked on a door I thought I heard a, "come in", but as I walked into the room there was a nurse helping a lady get dressed, but I saw her topless and was stopped in my tracks. In a split second I saw her droopy breast sag down to her waist surrounded by ripples of wrinkles throughout her body. It is a vision that will never leave my brain. 

There were the scary old residents, one lady slowly rolled through the halls saying, "Penny, Penny, Penny" that was all she said over and over like a skipping record. I was told that her daughter's name was Penny. Back then she just scared me, now I think about how sad it is.

My father never wanted me to get too close to any one resident, he wanted to protect my brother and I from the reality of death that surrounded us. I guess he did a good job, because I remember more good than bad.

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