I was speaking with a colleague of mine the other day, and she said, "You seem delighted to be there." [at the Community Care Center]. And I realized that I truly am. I watch the visitors, and I see how their eyes dart warily from one resident to another, and they scuttle on by. And I wish they could see through my eyes for just a few minutes. There are so many delightful people here; illness and medication issues just serve to enhance their natural quirks. Let me introduce you:
This week, the resident I call "KitKat" (he has a real name but generally prefers to be called KitKat) saw me before Bible Study and hurried excitedly over.
"Debbe, my friend! I have some exciting news to tell you!"
I waited for the grand unveiling as he marshaled his thoughts and took a deep breath.
"I'm going to get married, and I want you to come to my wedding. Yes, uh huh, and your husband too and all the kids. And I want you to come to the party and bake something delicious to bring. It's going to be a big party! I have it all planned out. On the 18th of August, 2014, I'm going to pop the question. Uh huh, yeah. And on October 31, 2014, we're going to get married and I'm going to sing forty-seven songs including "You've lost that lovin' feeling" and "Unchained Melody" and the theme song from "Titanic" and my own version of Little Drummer Boy and..."
"Hold on, hold on! KitKat! Wait a moment there! There's something I want to know!"
"Uh huh, yeah. What's that?"
"What's her NAME????!!!"
He looks at me blankly. "Who?"
"The lucky WOMAN! The one you're marrying!" It could have been anyone; he's had crushes on most of the staff and a number of the residents at one point or another.
And he leans in close so has not to be overheard and whispers, "I don't know yet. I have to meet her first."
Yes, well, at least he's thinking about that.
Later, when I was speaking with our Bible study leader, I was still chuckling about KitKat. one of the aides wheeled Sally in and brought her up next to the table where we were talking. Sally's from downstairs and was miffed that she'd been in therapy and missed Bible Study. She glared at us and snapped. "Bible Study's over now: You two get out of here. Go on - shoo! You're in my parking spot."
And how could I not love Bill, who greets me with big grins and says "Hi, Beautiful!" and Tad who prays for me (Imagine - someone who prays for the chaplain) and Abe who calls me "Kid" and kisses my hand because I once gave him a back scratcher he really liked. And Mr. Lewis who knows I 'belong there' somehow and figures I must be the housekeeper and keeps asking me for more toilet paper and shaving cream. And Deloris who says "Don't feed the birds no more - it draws squirrels. I hate squirrels." And Abbie the Joke Lady and Sherrie who talks absolutely constantly and never makes a lick of sense. And of course, Pastor Brown and his never-ending schemes to get more chicken in his diet and Josef from Africa who honors me and the kids with his rare words.
There are of course, many griefs and sorrows and just plain unfairnesses there. Watching someone you've come to love struggle and slip away is hard. Even harder is showing up for your regular visit only to find that the name is gone from the room and the resident has gone - home or into eternity - and everyone forgot to tell you. But those things pale in comparison to the vast richness of the lives I'm privileged to peek into every time. I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse too.