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Friday, 14 December 2012

What's for Dinner?

By Marcy Belson

I visited my friend who lives in a care facility not far from my home.

We walked from her room to the lobby area, she using a walker and me, leaning on the wall now and then. Eloise is about 13 years older than I, and has some memory loss.

We have a long history together as quilters. We used to meet once a week to quilt with about 20 other like minded women. Your name was added to the list when you joined and after you had helped others to finish their quilts, your quilt would be "framed.” You were required to furnish the thread for all the women to do the hand quilting.

When your quilt came off the frame, you would bring a pie or cake to celebrate. What fun we had. We took our little brown bag lunches, made some coffee and settled down for the day.

Eloise was the one who would start singing, either a cowboy song or an old gospel song. Others would join in and we would be there sewing and singing. Who could ask for more than that on a winter day?

Once a year, we sponsored a quilt show which was done with another group of women who met on another weekday. We shared the room and frames for the quilts and were officially part of one organization.

The day that we put up the quilt display was also the day we had a combined group potluck of delicious dishes and desserts.

Back to the care facility. As my friend and I sat by the fireside, another woman joined us and was called by name by an aide. When I heard her name, the bell went off in my head. She was another quilter from our mutual group. She quilted on the other weekday and we only saw each other at the quilt shows.

It seems she also has some memory problems. We talked about "the old days" and our quilts and friends, then I said goodbye.

Three days later I returned and again, my friend and I went to the lobby. There was the other quilter and she remembered us and our conversation. Two more women in wheelchairs joined us, waiting to be called into the dining room.

We had a good talk about which is best to serve for the holidays, turkey or prime rib. One of the women asked me if we were going to have a choice and I said "No, probably not." We then solved the dilemma of whether apple pie or pumpkin pie was the choice of the day.

When I visit next week, all of these ladies, who I now consider new friends, may or may not remember me or our conversation. It doesn't matter. We will sit and talk again, laugh and smile.

I'm feeling better about the life my friend is living there. It is now her home, not just a place for forgotten people. She has friends and it doesn't matter if she knows their names or remembers yesterday. She has today.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


It is nice that she has friends from her earlier life at that place. Reminiscing is good.

Very nice story Marcy. I work in nursing homes occasionally. And I have found that with the right staff and management, they can be a very nice place to live.

The nursing home I go to 5 days a week for their exercise classes is without a home, not a retirement place. There are 144 retirees living in the place plus another 41 in their health care unit. I must say it is the staff that makes it feel like home, even to me an outsider who they greet as though I a friend. Most of the staff are minorities from many African and Asian countries and they always have a smile for everyone. It is indeed a home for those who live there.

We hear so many horror stories about nursing homes. It is nice to hear about the other side.
Years ago my mother moved into an apartment, the first step in a total care facility service provisions. About a year after she joined, her comment was: "Moving here was the best decision I ever made." The staff and people who lived there, with whatever level of care they needed, made it 'home' for themselves and others. Home is only as perfect as one makes it.

I am so glad people go to visit those who live in these care facilities. Funny how we younger folks forget how the people there have most likely had a past together. Great stories how quilting has brought you together.

Marcy - your post cheered me up - I am a volunteer visitor at a local aged care facility - it is attached to our local hospital so always has the feel of a hospital rather than a 'home' - the residents are well cared for but some days I come away feeling sad for their way of life - being a patient rather than a person - your post will help me to remember that they can enjoy one day at a time when they do have a visitor to chat to - thank you.

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