Any of you that have read a few of my blog posts know that I volunteer each week at a nursing home.  I didn’t plan it that way.  In fact, it just kind of happened.  I work though the Southern Maine Agency on Aging.  My original assignments were to visit elderly people in their homes to provide them some company and perhaps pick up their mail or prescriptions, or groceries.  One of them was a lovely 96 year old lady named Bea.  Unlike most of my other clients however, Bea refused to acknowledge her age and wanted me to take her shopping and to go on walks.  This continued until she suffered a fall and could no longer live independently, and was moved into the nursing home.  By then we were fast friends so I continued to visit her every week until, at the ripe young age of 102, she left us.

It was then that I realized how much I had enjoyed my visits and that I would miss them almost as much as I missed her.  So I made the decision to continue my trips to the home and spend some time with anyone that wanted some company.  That is when I met Ada.  Ada and Hazel share a room, so initially I would spend time talking to both.  However, today, Hazel is not doing well and sleeps a lot, so I have continued to visit Ada.  Both are in their nineties and while Hazel is beginning to struggle, Ada is as sharp as a tack with a razor wit.  If you want to know anything about what is happening in the home, Ada can probably tell you.  Everything from whats good on the dinner menu to who passed away last week.  I suspect she has always been a strong woman who doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind.  Some might even be a little put off by her demeanor.

I usually show up around one in the afternoon.  That way I won’t interfere with their lunch.  The last few times I have found Ada in her wheelchair, outside her room with a lady named Nelly.  I asked Ada about her and this is what she told me.

Nelly suffered a stroke a couple of years ago that robbed her of the use of her left arm and her ability to speak.  A few months ago, a young man visited her and sat holding her hand and saying “I love you Grandma.”  He has never been back.  However, since then, Nellie has started to make some noises.  The only distinguishable word she says is “I”.  So each day after lunch, Ada goes out in her wheelchair and sits next to Nellie, holding her right hand and talking to her.  Ada said I don’t know how much she comprehends, but she has a very strong grip and sometimes squeezes my hand.  

Maybe it’s just me, but this gave me a whole new perspective on ‘caring’.  I realized I have been guilty of tunnel vision.  That being, if you need care, you are not also capable of giving it.  Here is a lady, who in her latter years herself, quietly exhibits every day that there is no age limit on compassion.  A lesson that is right there in front of me, in front of everyone, every day.  I wonder how many people notice, or ‘care’.

About oldmainer

I am retired and live in southern Maine with my wife and two dogs. I started Oldmainer as an outlet for my occasional opinions and random observations, with some poetry thrown in. I welcome anyone that wants to kick back and join me here on the porch, exploring all the gifts we have been given and the memories collected. Thanks for stopping by.
This entry was posted in Aging, Communication, Compassion, Life, Random Thoughts, Tribute and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Caring

  1. brucethomasw says:

    I beautiful thing, oldmainer. Our elders can teach is so much. Thanks for sharing this, about how we often get more, when we .


  2. gpcox says:

    My mother had had a serious stroke and believe me – their brains are there, intact and they know what you’re saying. They often lose approximately 20% of their memory, but it takes a lot of tough love before they relearn speech and hard work therapy to move again. You are giving a wonderful gift by helping out. (The grandson probably thought she didn’t know him.)


  3. A great post Bob, I admire you for putting your time to good use with volunteering.


  4. splitspeak says:

    Beautiful post, lovely lessons to be learnt here.

    Love, Mehak


  5. Patty Q says:

    I love “Taking Stock”. I remember slide rules. My boyfriends sister put her brothers slide rule on the back seat dash board of his car. Amazing how the accuracy of the thing changes when the summer sun hits it in a locked up un air conditioned car.
    His sister sold one of her cows to replace it. Did they cost that much? Or did cows cost so little? Maybe it was just a baby cow?
    Robert,Cuz, Because of you, I am going to create a new word.
    You are sooooo Quiglian! My wonderful grandpa Quigley would be so proud to hang out with you!
    Paradise Patty Q.


  6. Patty Q says:

    I should have said.”top of the dashboard”. My parents always referred to it as the dashboard, “put it on the dashboard”.
    Interesting origin of the word dashboard, below. I have been obsessed since teenagehood with the history of word and phrase origins. So Quiglian.

    This article is about a control panel placed in the front of the car. For other uses, see Dashboard (disambiguation).

    The dashboard of a Bentley Continental GTC car
    A Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle dash
    Dashboard instruments displaying various car and engine conditions
    Carriage dashboardA dashboard (also called dash, instrument panel, or fascia) is a control panel placed in front of the driver of an automobile, housing instrumentation and controls for operation of the vehicle.
    The word originally applied to a barrier of wood or leather fixed at the front of a horse-drawn carriage or sleigh to protect the driver from mud or other debris “dashed” (thrown) up by the horses’ hooves.[1]


    • oldmainer says:

      And today, the word dashboard has been adopted by business and industry to designate a means of organizing and presenting information that is easy to read and understand. I like the old def better.


  7. Theresa says:

    You are a blessing, oldmainer…


  8. Starralee says:

    Oh wowza, what a beautiful message.


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