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

I Am Bitching


I Am Bitching

The only reason I am posting right now when I have a ton of things to do is so I can go see the Hospice nurse with a smile instead of a bitchy mouth.

Yesterday was just too awesome. Alwas calm, no tears, not too many tremors. Why would I want to break the…

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I Am Bitching


The only reason I am posting right now when I have a ton of things to do is so I can go see the Hospice nurse with a smile instead of a bitchy mouth.

Yesterday was just too awesome. Al was calm, no tears, not too many tremors. Why would I want to break the record?

Friday I needed medications from Hospice. I used to call the Triage nurse when I needed something, then Al’s Hospice nurse told me that I was getting her into trouble. I was to let her know personally when I needed meds. She even gave me her cell number which is a no-no with their staff. I guess it could cause an over-load of maybe non-emergency phone calls, and I get that.

So I called her last Friday morning. By late afternoon she hadn’t returned my call so I called the main office. I didn’t state why I needed to talk to the nurse because I didn’t want her to get in trouble. I also knew that at 5pm, the nurses do not answer their work phones. When that time of hour comes they are off the clock and on call nurses take over.

The office told me they would get a hold of her and have her call. I never got a call, not any part of the weekend. Now I am out of two very important medications. This is going to cause me grief and unneeded stress.

The office will call in an emergency supply at our local drug store here and then I will have to get out to get it, and it will be tomorrow when Al is not at Day Program so I am going to have to load him up in the car.

So this morning comes around. The shower girl calls and says she will be here at 9:30. At 10:05 when she is not here I call the office. The office says she will call the girl. I also mention that I have not heard from Al’s nurse. I also stated that I had left her a message along with the office leaving a message. I told her I usually hear from her by this time of morning. I was wondering if she knew Al was home. The office said she would call her.

Low and behold within five minutes the shower girl showed up at the door. Al was in tears. He was afraid he wasn’t going to get his shower. The girl had a trainee with her and they were laughing, but I was not.

I hate to see Al crying needlessly. It stresses me out. He has to get on the bus for day program at a specific time. The girl made a comment that she had car trouble and I said you could have called.

For me I have to make quick decisions. Although I am thrilled Al is home it doesn’t take much at all for my stress to return. Taking care of Al isn’t an easy job, especially alone. I  have to decide, is anyone actually coming? Do I need to  hurry and give him a shower myself? Should I call the bus company and cancel? Should I take him in myself after they arrive?

So I guess I was edgy. While  they are laughing I am almost in tears like Al. Then the nurse calls with a bright Good Morning. She ask me how I am and I say alright. I tell her I am stressed right now but I will calm down.

She ask why am I so stressed this time of day and I explain the shower deal. She proceeds to explain that they give a time frame but they can’t always be on the dot. Maybe they run into crisis with a patient before Al.

I said I totally understood and explained how it puts me in a situation of feeling like I don’t know which way to go and I explained the process of the bus situation and all that I said above.

She became silent and then I decided to talk to her in person about the phone call I didn’t receive last Friday. I am patient, I understand that Al is not their only patient. But we are talking about pain medications that can not be stopped abruptly. We are talking about how I am now going to have to load Al up in the car to go to the drug store to get just one to tide us over.

All Al’s medications paid by Hospice come via UPS or Fed Ex. So now I have said it all. I feel better. I can go in and smile, but I wish I could get these people to understand the caregiver and patients side also. Life doesn’t always flow around the staff.

Born Free


Al has been in Hospice House                                                            baby after bath #11

For three days

I am anxious for him to come home

I miss him in so many ways

But while he has been gone

My body and mind are no longer three

For I feel I have been born free

My thoughts are brighter

My smile is back

I want to jump and down

I feel back on track

This must be what respite means

Regenerating our souls

Ready to tackle another day

When I once again take on a caregiver role.

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

09/19/13

I Wish I Was A Robot


As you know from my post this morning today has not been one of Al’s good days. Moving to the noon hour I met the Hospice nurse at Al’s Day Program and we both went to see Al. He was no better. I would say he was worse because he was crying.

The nurse tried to talk to him but he could not be understood. His blood pressure was on the high side but this was attributed to his being so emotional.

He was on a high pain level and had already been given his pain medication. The nurse gave it to him again and an anxiety pill. I hope it worked because when she and I left he was still not good.

I tried to get him to stay home but he didn’t want to. The nurse told me it was time to start speaking for him. The Hospice doctor had previously stated that Al would go down faster if he remained going to the Day Program and Al was explained this.

He wants to socialize so bad he is willing to risk his life; but there is a part of me that wonders if he really understands what he is doing to himself being mentally challenged.

The nurse saw me holding back with my answer. I am sorry it is so hard to take a way from him what he wants so bad. This is all that he has left; his Day Program;  at least in his eyes.

I know that Al has bad and good days, and I see the bad days slipping in more and more. The nurse told me Al was about bed-bound ready. This threw me back. Am I that naive? Do I not want to recognize he is so ill? Maybe I carry more hope than I should.

To take a way from him made me start to cry. The nurse took over which I guess was a good thing. Starting next  Monday, Wednesday and Fridays Al will not be picked up until 10:40 am instead of 8:45 because of a new shower gal. So what the nurse did was decided for him to start staying home Tuesdays and Thursdays all together.

I think from what she said she is going to have the gentleman who is the Social Service worker with Hospice tell Al that he needs to cut his days down. She thinks him hearing the news from a guy will go over better.

I wish I was a robot, no heart, no feelings, no nothing. There are live people walking around like that but I am not one of them. To me, this is one more step towards Al’s end of life. I admit his body can’t take it. The bus ride, pretty much being awake all day, but the flip side is Al’s livelihood, what’s left, bed and TV and the rotten M.S.A.robotand a little bit of Day Program.