19 February 2010

Always a Smile

I spent most of my weekdays walking through the halls at work singing some sort of song. Yes, my job is trying, but it isn't all about showers and clean bottoms. It is full of love, laughter, imagination, and life.

One of my residents always has me give her a kiss on the forehead in the morning and say, "Good Morning Momma" or "Hi Momma." Most people would get upset by this but I walk in and say good morning and her first words are generally "Come give momma a kiss." Who am I to take this moment from her? It always makes me smile. Another resident who can be quite aggressive will randomly walk up smile at you and then give you a hug. This makes all of those trying times worth it.

There is humor in working with Dementia and Alzheimer residents. We have one lady that is a Great Grandma that constantly says "Hello, Grandma" to certain residents (she does not see herself as a Grandma). We have one that loves to play a version of sitting volleyball, and she gets a kick out of surprising you with a spike that can put many high school and college girls to shame. She will laugh hysterically when she smashes the 2 ft in diameter ball into you, and although you are in pain her laugh is contagious.

Imagination. Boy, one resident in particular you have to have a lot of this with. She picks imaginary things off the ground and hands them to you. Her favorite thing to hand me is her heroine. She will literally have tears coming down her face as she hands me this heroic woman. "Save her please the bear/lion/battle has hurt her. She is dying." No matter what I am doing I will take the hero in my hands and walk away. I will bring her back a few minutes later and hand her back to the woman with the tear stained cheeks. I explain she is completely heal and has been asking for her. The woman will smile at me and give me a huge heartfelt thank you.

There is so much life at work. I don't see elderly residents when I go to work, but rather lively and strong women and men. We have a resident that is close to a century old and still has the spirit of a 20 year old. We take weekly walks and ride the exercise bikes together. We talk about any thing and everything. As we talked one time recently she pointed out the huge firs that surround work (her home) and some other trees. She told me of the patience and love God must have to nurture single trees for so long to make them so strong and healthy. She then joked he must have done the same for her. I believe whole hearted this country born and raised woman has been nurtured by God.

Yes, I am a bit obsessed with work, but it is what I love. These are the people that set forth the paths for our lives to take. I also know that most of the residents I care for do not remember their pasts, who I am, or much of anything, but they are still human. This is my career regardless of what changes may come in my life. I feel a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment at the end of each day. I know some may read this and think why don't I just tell them "how old they are?", "their mom/dad/child is dead", "snap out of it", or just the truth, but Why make them suffer over and over. Instead I take a step into their reality, whatever that maybe. No I am not lying to the residents. I am simply living their paths of life with them.

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