Monday, after a week-long stay at Columbus Hospice, Isabelle returned to Covenant Woods. She has congenital heart problems along with some respiratory issues. She also has brittle bones, which I didn't know until the other day.
"They're afraid I might fall," she said when I called her. "When Ralph and I were moving in, I fell and broke my wrist and hit my head. They took X-rays or did a scan or something of my head to see if I hurt anything. That's when they found out I have an aneurysm in my brain. About two weeks after I got the cast off my wrist, I fell and broke my other wrist."
For the time being, Isabelle is back in the two-bedroom apartment she and Ralph, who died last November, moved into a few months before I got here. She is on the waiting list for a room in Personal Care, the area formerly known as Assisted Living. Until a room becomes available, Isabelle will have a caregiver with her twenty-four hours a day.
Friday morning, I went to see her. As I walked in, she held her hands high above her head and said, "See!" I responded with a quizzical look "See!" she said. "I see you are beautiful," I said. "No. Look, I have my clothes on." Once I got done laughing, Isabelle told me she had spent the week in nightgowns and her robe. Friday was the first day she was dressed to go out, although she wasn't planning to go anywhere. Isabelle did come down to dinner later. For the first time in two weeks, Al, Ron, Isabelle and I were in our places for dinner, and things seemed to be back to normal,
Wednesday, as I was Skyping with our little writers' group back in Kingsville, Nona, who is half of the Covenant Woods' marketing force, came knocking at my door."The property inspection people will be here Friday," she said. "They come once a year. They're going to look at two apartments in each building. Do you mind if we show them yours?"
While not appalled, I was shocked. Two weeks ago when I went off on William in the dining room, Nona, unbeknowst to me, was having lunch with two perspective residents. It seemed to impress Candice, one of the servers, who said, "Tom, I didn't know you had it you." But I couldn't imagine that my little outburst, justified though it was, scored any points with Nona. Weirder yet, she handed me a note that said in part, "This is a routine event but we would like to show your beautiful apartment on that day."
My apartment, beautiful? I think not. Spartan, perhaps, Spartan dishabille, might the home decorator's term.To make matters worse, Nona was seeing the apartment at its very best. Tee, one of the housekeepers, had been in a half hour earlier to give the place its weekly cleaning. Nona went on to say she likes studio apartments because they are so open. I didn't have the nerve to tell her that mine wasn't so open looking before Tee got rid of the clutter. "And I love the view on this side of the building," Nona said. The view is of the parking lot, for Pete's sake. There are plenty of trees around the parking lot, but mostly the view is of the parking lot.
As I mumbled to Nona, "I guess it would be OK," the onus of having to keep the apartment in its just-cleaned condition for two whole days settled uncomfortably on my shoulders. Friday morning, I washed the dishes, hid the clutter as best I could, properly disposed of my accumulated garbage, and went about my business. At noon, that business took me to the dining room to work on the menus. An hour-and-a-half later I returned to the room. On my way to dinner, Johnny, the maintenance supervisor, stopped to tell me the inspectors had inspected my apartment while I was out. There was nothing in his demeanor to indicate that Covenant Woods was, or that I should be. embarrassed by the state of my humble abode. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief that was.
The scuttlebutt is, Covenant Woods has revised its employees' handbook and the strictures against employees becoming too familiar with the residents are stronger than ever. The powers that be have their reasons, and some of them might even be valid. It is probably a good thing, however, the same standards do not apply to the residents.
Dinner is at noon on Sundays. Neither Isabelle or Al came down, so Burt joined me today. A few minutes later, our server, Amy, came along to greet us and take our orders:
"Mr. Young, how'ya doing?"
"Everybody I can," Burt said. "Has anyone done you lately?"
When our dinners arrived, Burt spent several minutes looking at the carrots on his plate. They were the type you see in plastic bags in the produce department. The ones that look like they have been machined into one-inch cylinders. Burt smiled and asked Amy to come over.
"You know what that looks like?" he asked, pointing at one of the carrots.
"I don't know. It looks like a carrot."
"No," Burt said. "It's a small man's erection."
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