Notes from the Home - January 16, 2013



   It might be a little early in 2013 to declare that my year has been made. But it has. A week ago, Debbie, who was babysitting, called.

   “I’ve got a little boy here. Would you like to see him?” she asked.

   Well, duh. And a few minutes later, thanks to the miracle of Skype, I was watching Hayden sitting in his highchair playing with some durable Christmas decorations that had yet to be put away and occasionally picking at his breakfast.

   “Say, ‘Hi, Grandpa,’” Debbie said.

   “Hi, Grandpa,” Hayden said.

   Grandpa turned to mush and has been floating among the clouds ever since.

  

   In the lobby a day or two ago, Mary, a nurse’s aide, looked at me and laughed.

   “What?” I said.

   “You better watch out,” she said.

   “Huh?”

   “Miss Evelyn is after you,” Mary said. “I heard her say, ‘Oh, I love that man. He’s got the nicest smile.’”

   “I should have moved down here years ago and become a politician,” I said. “People are always telling me I have a wonderful smile.”

   “You do have a beautiful smile,” Mary said.

   “No one up north ever told me that.”

   “This is the South,” she said. “We talk like that to everybody. We’re like kids at a parade. Someone goes by, and we stand there waving and yelling at them.”

  

   Once or twice a week, when she sees me in the hall, Louise will stop and tell me how much she likes my smile and what an inspiration I am to her. Why I should be an inspiration to anyone is beyond me.

   “You just keep going, and you don’t let it get you down,” she says.

   I don’t know about that. But Louise gets out and about as much or more than I do, and she has to work harder to do it. She uses a walker, and, my guess is, she’s at least twenty years older than I. It’s much easier to smile when you’re cruising around in a power chair than it is when you’re pushing a walker up and down the long hallways. She’s my inspiration.

   I received another dose of inspiration Monday evening while I was delivering Table Talk. I was on the third floor and saw Ruth, who also uses a walker, coming my way. We said hello as we passed. She lives on the first floor, and I figured she was visiting someone. But a few minutes later, she passed me from behind, went to the end of the hall, turned around and headed back my way. She was getting her exercise. Ruth said the third-floor hallway isn’t a busy place, and once she gets rolling, she can keep rolling. You could see the determination in her eyes, and it was inspiring.

  

   But those of us in powered vehicles do get around. Sunday afternoon, I went over to McDonald’s for a chicken sandwich and a milkshake. On my way back, I saw Eleanor and Richard making their way through the parking lot in their golf cart. After we talked for a few minutes, they went on to McDonald’s, and I set course for Covenant Woods. Before I got there, however, I met up with Eddie, who was on her way back from Publix in her power chair.

   It wasn’t long before I embarrassed myself. The asphalt lip that allows the wheelchair to go over the curb from the service road and on to the path to the Covenant Woods’ parking lot is steep one. But Eddie, who is several years older and more than several pounds heavier than I, easily negotiated it. The pressure to equal her performance was on, but my foot braces weren’t. The braces are to prevent toe drop. Well, the toes on my left foot dropped between the wheelchair footplate and the asphalt lip. Ouch! But the only lasting damage was to my ego. Eddie’s ascent had been so absolutely flawless; mine was exceedingly faulty.

  

   Nursing students from Columbus State will be interviewing some of the residents of Covenant Woods. I am to be one of the interviewees. The purpose of the interviews is to give the prospective nurses an opportunity to hone their interviewing and data collecting skills. Corrine said she participated in the interviewing a few months ago, and the process was short and sweet.

   No matter how long the interview is, it will seem shorter than the Town Hall meeting I sat through yesterday. The Town Hall meeting is a monthly affair which I had so far niftily avoided. Every time I thought I should attend, I was dissuaded by a dream. Well, more of a nightmare. I saw Roger, the general manager, droning on about a slew of soon-to-be-implemented improvements. And the residents asking endless questions about previously promised soon-to-be-implemented improvements that never were. The dream was eerily accurate.

   Alas, Penelope had been trying to scrounge up potential interviewees and asked if I would participate. “Sure,” I said. Only then did she mention that a CSU nursing instructor would be at the Town Hall meeting to meet the interviewees and have them to sign consent forms. So, against my better judgment, I went to the meeting. It’s not that I had to give up something exciting in order to attend, but I could have found ways to be more pleasantly bored.

  

   From time to time during my days as an ink-stained wretch, Star Beacon sports editor Don McCormack would signify his approval of a piece I or one of my colleagues had written by saying, “Hey, this doesn’t suck.” Editors must like that phrase. In the Reader’s Digest Humor Collection, available at a newsstand near you, Andy Simmons, the magazine’s humor editor, writes, “. . . I poured over every joke and funny anecdote we’ve published, and thought to myself, Hey, some of these don’t suck! So I grabbed the ones that didn’t suck . . .”

   Among the things Mr. Simmons grabbed was one of Russ’ cartoons. The curious reader in search of amusement will find it on page 74. As his father, it comes as a great relief to know that Russ’ work doesn’t suck. In editor-speak, that’s high praise, indeed.

   I do, however, do have one itty-bitty nit to pick. Mr. Simmons says, “. . . and thought to myself . . .” Whom, besides himself, does he normally think to?

  

   For a week or more, it’s been June in January here in Columbus. It’s been a dreary, rainy day, but according to the Weather Channel, it was 68 at two this afternoon. That will not be the case tomorrow, when we are told to expect, “Morning rain, then windy with a mix of rain and snow showers.” But Friday, the prediction is for sunny skies and a high of 57.

  

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