Two Lonely Hearts

He gently laid his hand over hers. Looking into her eyes the two smiled at each other. Both Charley and Iris needed each other. The two came from their children’s homes at about the same time.

Both came from different types of  families and yet here they were sitting in the lounge together. Lap blankets placed over their knees, sitting in too familiar wheel chairs they were waiting for their supper.

Charlie had four kids. Three of them lived out of the area and the one he had been staying with lived here in town. Charlie was an old sentimental man. He laughed hearty and he cried gently. He was a tomato farmer in his day.

He picked from the vines and filling his baskets, standing in the hot sun all day he was tough-skinned but a gentle giant on the inside. His wife had died several years back. Charlie continued to take care of his home until he began to fall.

Low blood pressure and the signs of the body wearing down from age led him to his daughter’s house where he was living before he came here to the nursing home. Now he needed more care than his family could give him. His heart was getting tired and moving from room to room became strained.

His daughter sat with him one afternoon and the two talked about extra care. She explained how she couldn’t give up her job and so the nursing home would have to be the next step.

Charlie understood but he cried. He had been so involved with his family and now he was going to be alone in a building full of people. The day to transfer homes came much sooner than he wanted.

Iris on the other hand came from a different situation. Her family consisted of one child and this son lived over a thousand miles a way. He was a big business man who made time only for himself.

Iris lived in a Senior Retirement building. She didn’t have many friends that were alive anymore. She  had worked in a local post office for years and had been lucky enough to get a good pension.

When she retired she sold her home and moved into her new quarters. She hired a housekeeper that came once a week. The helper cleaned her little place and cooked all day preparing meals for the next week. Once the freezer was full she disappeared until the visit.

Iris’s husband had been killed in an automobile accident  four years before she retired. She was sad but she was tough around the heart. When her son moved far a way she got used to being alone.

She played Bridge with the residents and on Mondays she played Bingo. On Wednesdays she rode the community bus which dropped her off at the local shopping center. This is when she would buy things she needed for the days ahead. Her housekeeper was given a list along with money and she took care of the groceries.

This was a planned life with activities daily. Life was not bad but her heart remained empty as her yearning for companionship grew. Iris didn’t realize that her being alone was affecting her to the point that meals became wasted. Naps were taken more often.

Until one day the housekeeper reported to the front desk that Iris wasn’t doing so well. Iris had a health check-up and a mental clinic was involved. The decision was made that she needed more care. It was decided that her mental well-being was at risk.

Iris was transferred into the same nursing home that Charley was living. Iris wanted to die. Although she had some money left it couldn’t buy what she really needed. She remained in her room many days staring at the television. She let the aids take care of her and she was just living.

Some changes had been made and one morning for breakfast Charlie and Iris ended up sitting at the same dining table. It took no time at all for Charlie and Iris to feel connected. Two lonely hearts meeting three times a day.

One day on a quiet afternoon Charlie wheeled himself to Iris’s room. He sat at her doorway watching her. She didn’t acknowledge him as she was napping. This broke Charlies heart and he knocked on the door.

She looked up at him and put her call light on after inviting him in. The nurse helped put a sweater on her and pushed the two out into the court-yard.

It wasn’t long at all that Charlie and Iris were sharing their lives with each other. Speaking about their spouses and children and how they ended up here in the nursing home. From that afternoon in the sunshine, life was brighter.

Each day Charlie went down and waited for Iris at her door. He escorted her to every meal and when she was sad and lonely he would reach out and  place his hand over hers. The two would look into each others eyes and smile.

Nurse Holding Elderly Patient's Hand

We Are Going To Be Elderly One Day

icon of elderly people

icon of elderly people

Is there something about elderly people that scares us younger ones? Is it the frail statue, or maybe the wrinkles. Could it be that they talk to much about the past and we don’t get it? Maybe they move too slow.

We are all going to get old. It is inevitable, it is going to happen. I live on what is known as Senior Lane. A short row of homes that on my side elderly live.

I know each person well enough to know their concerns in life. My one neighbor her children feel that she is not able to manage her money well enough. This may have some truth in it, but I think the adult kids have overstepped some. I know, Terry, mind your own business.

Don’t worry, I have not voiced my thoughts to these two sweethearts that live on either side of me. The one that I am speaking of gets outside with her electric lawn mower and mows her own yard. She plays in her flower garden. She is involved with her church activities. Her kids give her an allowance for spending money and pay her bills with her funds. Maybe it works out for everyone, but I think the elderly lady feels a bit abused.

If her church activities include some outing she has to go to her kids and explain why she wants some extra money. I only have heard the one side of this story, hers. Maybe hearing both sides would make more sense to me.

I know it reminds me of Al at the nursing home. He has most of his mind and hates it when the facility tells him what they think he should be able to have in his own room. They come to me and tell me to remove this or that. I thought Al was an adult and he pays a heap of money to have half that room.

Should we as the younger generation make their decisions for them? Is there  a line that should not be crossed as long as the elderly are behaving with an alert mind?

My other neighbor, now I feel real sorry for her. She has Parkinson’s like Al does, but the only thing I notice is some slight shaking. I don’t believe she is as advanced as Al is. She has many more medical issues than my other neighbor. She goes to the doctor quite frequently. She is able to walk but tires easily. She lives alone also and fixes her own meals.

There are many times she may nibble on a bite here or there for a meal. She claims she just isn’t that hungry. Now her family is involved in a different way. If there is a vacation they insist that Mom goes along.

I have heard the neighbor tell her family she really doesn’t want to go on these trips. They tire her and she would rather rest in her own bed at night. They take no for an answer. When it comes to things around the house they aren’t there for her.

She tells me constantly that her grandkids don’t have time for her. They never come to see her. No one in her family mows her tiny yard. My son mows it and I wonder if it would be knee-high if he didn’t do this for her.

She weeps when my son finishes because she says she is ashamed that her family won’t help. So this family insists that if there are reunions, birthdays or vacations, Mom has to go. No ifs ands or buts.

I know how I feel when I am stressed out about Al. It takes everything I have inside to sometimes go visit. Not that I don’t want to see him, but I hate how I allow his emotions to suck me in. Pity takes over and a sadness looms over me.

When I don’t feel well, I sure wouldn’t mind a phone call or a knock at the door knowing someone cares enough to check on me. I don’t want to go out and socialize when I am under the weather.

We are all going to get old some day. Have you thought about what you want to have happen or not to happen? Do you want your finances taken over by your children? Who is going to take care of yard maintenance if you can’t do it?

Will you want to lean on your grandkids because they are family? Or will you and I look at them as they have their own lives to live and don’t want to bother with the old people. It is something to think about.

I know I do. I wonder how it will work out if I have to go live with my daughter one day. Will it be a problem with it being long-term? Will I interrupt their marriage? Will I try to run their lives like I did my own? Will I be able to adjust? Will they, when it is longer than a vacation?

I know that I don’t have the funds to live in an assisted living facility. I didn’t  plan when I was younger. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mommy, and therefore I do not have this nice retirement today. I live month to month and hope for God to take care of what I can not.

I wish I would have thought things out when I was younger, but I don’t think many young people, newly married people, actually think about getting old. There are no retirements today like our parents had. 401’s are not secure, and stocks are like roller coaster. Maybe I should have done like our fore fathers did and hid my money under my old mattress. Keep a shot-gun beside my bed, and a guard dog outside my front door.

I don’t know what the answers are today. I  just see what my neighbors go through and they are only two of millions. I wonder what their stories are……………

Come Back Butterfly

English: Monarch butterflies

I am a blessed woman. Not the kind of blessing that would make you say wow look at her, doesn’t she look different? No my blessings are not visible when you look at me. They are in the miracles where  God does all the work.

Since yesterday it has been sort of a whirl wind. A mini tornado. First there seemed to be no one that understood what I was trying to say and now everyone gets it.  Many people are involved with Al and my life. Coming together as a basketball team, each one linking with another group. Holding hands and rooting for Al.

This is a miracle to me. To see at least five people involved that I can  think of immediately is awesome. This isn’t including the ones behind the scenes waiting for this form or that nod of approval.

Today I have another meeting with a brand new lady. I am selfish I admit. It is frigid temps here and I wish I could stay huddled in my four walls but I must do this for Al. Do you have any idea how excited my insides are?

As  I woke up this morning I found myself smiling at the thoughts of seeing Al smiling again. Watching him interact with others that are on his level of thinking. Hearing him tell all of his new friends about his coca cola collection.

Maybe I should not voice my thoughts here but I am going to take a risk. I am going to hope that you understand what I am about to say. Come close, closer. I am going to whisper my words. I don’t want anyone to think for one moment that I am not thankful for the good deeds that have been provided to make Al safer.

But there is a difference. It breaks my heart when most of the time I walk in to see Al I see what I would describe as a depressed state of mind. I see Al just about every other day. I see the aids coming into Al’s room but there is a reason. To help in a bathroom situation or take Al or his roommate down to a meal.

I am talking about the communication here. The interaction from one soul to another soul. The part of conversation that makes us feel special and loved. Don’t you and I all want to feel special and loved? Like a birthday every day?

Of course we can’t really have that feeling every day. I realize this, but wouldn’t it be great to wake up each morning knowing without doubt that somewhere in our day someone was going to touch our life in a good way?

Al doesn’t get this where he is. As many years as I have worked in nursing homes, hospitals and private homes I for the first time see the difference. In a nursing home it is our duty to make sure the patient is safe. To have the basic needs and to be given medications at the proper times.

In a group home setting the goal is the same but there is an added ingredient. To make the patient feel worthy. This comes in many forms throughout the 24 hour day and it works. This is the difference that I observe in the nursing homes and group homes.

This is why when I walk in to Al’s room I see the depressed face. He has the basic standard of care without the added ingredient. I don’t want his life to be this way. So having this team working behind the scenes and with me is a miracle from God.

Together we are going to put Al back into a more familiar situation of being in his own home. But instead he will be living in a different home with friends of his own and more help with needs he has.

I ask for prayer even though I know the team is all working together. I pray for a smooth and timely fashion for this to be all done. It is normal here that when you work with the State and government, things can take a very long time, months. So even though I am very thankful I am asking for these extras. I want to replace the sadness with smiles and the quietness with chatter. I know that Al’s Parkinson’s Disease is taking its toll on Al. This is the reason I ask for the prayers. Every month I see the changes taking place.

I don’t know  how long Al will live. I am more concerned with the quality of living Al has until he can no longer realize what day it is. I love him and I want him to have the happiness that all the rest of us have and desire.

Thanks everyone for reading this and taking the moment out of your life to say a special prayer for all of us involved in preparing a new home for Al.