Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Notes from the Home - September 6, 2016

The quiet monotony of Tuesday afternoon was disturbed when Leila, my next-door neighbor, yelled, "Lady". Then she yelled it again and again. "She probably means Gidget," I thought. Gidget is Leila's dog, a little, white cutie that must be at least part poodle. Leila is having great difficulty keeping things straight anymore, and I figured "Lady" was a long forgotten dog that had popped into her memory.

I went into the hallway expecting so see Gidget in full-frisky mode, an excited little pooch sniffing under a door, then hurrying across the hall to another. But, except for Leila standing in her doorway, the hall was empty.

"Lady," Leila shouted again."

"What's the matter, Leila?"

"I need help."

"Is there something I can do to help?" I asked as I approached her. Then I stopped. She didn't have pants on and her underwear was down around her ankles. "I'm going to call and ask them to send someone to help you."

"She said she'd be right back,"

"Who said she'd be right back?"

"The lady. She said she'd be right back, but she didn't come back. . . . Oh, there she is."

One of the nurse's assistants from home health was hurrying down the hall. "I forgot to grab some gloves when I came down," she said as she went by me. "Come on, Leila, let's get you in the bathroom."

That was last week. Yesterday, shortly after lunch, Leila, her son, and granddaughter headed to the Magnolia Manor nursing home in  Buena Vista, Georgia, where Leila will receive more care than is available at Covenant Woods. Both David - her son - and Jody - her granddaughter - live near Buena Vista, which will make it easier for them to make daily visits. Although Gidget won't be allowed to live with Leila, she will be allowed to visit during the day. That is important: Leila has said many, many times, "I don't know what I'd do without my Gidget."

David stayed a week with Leila a month or so ago, when she first became disoriented. That week, they discovered that part of Leila's problem was the result of some medication she was taking. The doctor changed her prescription, and Leila became a little more aware. However, David's opinion of Covenant Woods took a turn for the worse.

"You know what they wanted to do?" he asked me. "They wanted to charge me for the six nights I stayed with Mother. Well, I told them what I thought about that. I should be more careful. My mouth landed me in jail once and in more than a few fights."

*          *          *

Leila's departure is another one of those things that make life at Covenant Woods seem like I'm living at a transient center. Sure, people are always coming into and then out of our lives - friends move, co-workers get new jobs, folks die - but all the coming and going happens so fast here.

Every now and again I look over at that table for four in a corner of the dining room. The table at which Isabelle, Ralph, Al and I ate dinner every night. It was a comfortable, convivial gathering; we complained some, talked seriously some, and laughed a lot. Then Ralph died. A year later, Isabelle died, and Al died last February.

It is the same with casual acquaintances, the people you see nearly every day and have a short conversation with once in a while. Then one day, somebody says, "Did you hear Tony passed?"

Over a lifetime, many people enter and leave our lives as if through a revolving door. But here it sometimes seems to be the revolving door on one of those long since gone downtown department stores at the height of the Christmas rush.

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