Wednesday, June 03, 2009
So I was reading a friend's blog this morning and she posted about a patient of hers that has Alzheimer's Disease and it made me think back...
Did you know that my first "grown up" job after college graduation I worked as an Activities Director at an assisted living/Alzheimer's care facility? I didn't appreciate it at the time. My position was short lived because I let the pressures of scheduling and community contacts and being a people pleaser break me down, but I do have some really great memories of my relationships with the residents and some of their bittersweet mistakes they made as a result of dementia. (For the record, I was not fired. I resigned after I heard of an opening position with my current "company".)
One of my favorite residents was Rose. Rose had the beginning stages of dementia. She was Italian and lived most of her life in New York. She had to move to Alabama after her husband died - her daughter's husband was serving in the military, stationed here in Montgomery. Rose would come to me almost every single morning and ask,
"Have you seen Ri-chaaad!? He didn't come home last night and I bet he stayed out too late with his friends. If you see'em, tell'em I'm lookin' for 'em!"
I would have to tell her "Rose, Richard is dead. He passed away two years ago, remember?" She would raise her hand to her forehead and say, "REALLY!?! JE-sUUUUUs, how could I forget that!? Oh well... I'm gonna go read the pay-pah now ok? I'll be in they-ah" and she would point to the living room with her cane and hobble off. I know it sounds really sad that someone would have to get the news that their husband died everyday... but in all honesty, she took the news really well, every time.
But my favorite "Rose" story was one day while I was in my office she came in frantically saying...
"Uh, Miss? Miss? Miss, someone stole my unda-way-uh!"
I asked, "Someone stole your underwear?"
"Yeee-ah. I went ta look in my droo-ah this mornin' and I heee-ad only one clean pay-ah."
"Oh, ok. Some one stole your underwear, and you are right, one clean pair is not enough.
Come on, let's go to your room and I'll help you look, maybe you just put them in a box or drawer someplace and forgot to look there."
We walked down the hall towards her room and had to pass by the activities room. Something bright caught my eye as we strolled past. I turned to look and there across the back window overlooking the courtyard, like a birthday banner, were 8-10 pair of huge white "granny pannies" hanging to dry on the blinds, each secured with a wooden clothes-pin. I told her to go on to her room and that I would be right there...
I walked over to the window and sure enough, in the most scribbly black permanent marker handwriting was "Rose" written in the elastic waistband of each garment.
She must have hung them to dry after doing her laundry late the night before. Of course, I took them to her but didn't explain how I found them... it didn't matter how I found them. If she couldn't remember hanging them in such a public place as the Activity and Recreation room then why embarrass her by telling her the news?
Ah Rose, rest in peace.