Al, Isabelle and Amy

     Early Monday afternoon, as I was stuffing the evening's menus into the folders, Sherrie, one of the nurses' assistants, came by and said the EMTs were upstairs with Al. His heart was racing, she said, 122 beats a minute.  Al had asked her to let me know he was going to the hospital. Hoping to see him before he left, I headed to the B building, but I got to the door just as the ambulance left.
     "He was cussing out everyone," Sherrie said. Others who had seen Al earlier that morning said he seemed fine and wasn't cussing out anyone, at least not to an unusual degree.
      Penelope saw Al this morning (Tuesday). He was still in the emergency room. The doctors want him to remain in the hospital and were waiting for an available room. Al is less than delighted with the situation; he wants to come home.
     Penelope said she had spoken to the doctors about prescribing something to help Al deal with his anxiety. I have known Al for almost three years, and several times a week every week during that time Al has said he was ready to die. On three or four occasions during the last month, Al seemed convinced his end was near, and it scared him to death. Anything the doctors can do to help Al deal with his fears would be a good thing.
     One of the things that has been upsetting Al is the prospect of going on hospice. One of his doctors told him he should. By happy coincidence, Daniel recently landed a job with a local hospice group. Al has been a friend of Daniel's family since before Daniel was born, and Daniel comes by to see Al once a week or so. Penelope said Al agreed  today to go on hospice with Daniel's group. Perhaps, if Al trusts these people, he'll be more relaxed and less eager to self-medicate. He has spent a fortune on laxatives, enemas and assorted other stuff for his bowels in the last month.
     Isabelle is in hospice again. She has been weak and tiring easily. From what I hear, they're hoping the hospice stay will help Isabelle regain her strength. I hope that's all it is.
     Isabelle, Al and I have been eating dinner together for over two years. Ralph, Isabelle's husband, who was the fourth person at the table, died in November 2013. Since then, she has told several people how much having dinner with Al and me every night helped her through that difficult time.
     Until a week or two ago, I didn't understand how those Covenant Woods' dinners with Al and me could be so important to Isabelle. Now I know why. For three or for days before he went to the hospital this time, Al, concerned about his alternate bouts of diarrhea and constipation, had opted to eat in his room. Isabelle, because she was so tired and weak, ate in the Personal Care dining room several times in the two weeks before her most recent trip to hospice.
     Then there is Amy. Until a month ago, she had been the regular server in the A section of the dining room, where Isabelle, Al and I sit. Amy has one of those personalities that fills a room. When she is there, you know she is there. And when she isn't there, you know she isn't there, you feel like something is missing. When Amy comes toward you with a big grin on her face, you know she is up to something. These days, Amy spends most of her time in the D section, and if all goes well for her, she will soon be working somewhere other than Covenant Woods - somewhere where she will earn more, work more hours and get a few benefits.
     I am amazed how quickly the trio of Al, Isabelle and Amy became such a large part of my life. It is frightening when I think of them not being at dinner every night and how empty things will seem if they are not there. They are good people, they are valued friends, and they brighten my days at Covenant Woods.
        
    

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