Monday, January 28, 2013

THE FLU MONSTER

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

The flu monster has me in his clutches. So far I've managed to distract myself a little by writing posts and reading yours, but I feel as if I need to give up for a few days.

So please forgive me for not visiting you and commenting.

I got a flu shot in October or November, but I know thousands of strains of viruses lurk in the world and the shot doesn't mean we won't get some sort of flu.

My house has never been so dirty. The Christmas tree relaxes on the living room floor, still waiting to be put in its box so it can live in the attic till next December.

Everything is on hold.

I watch some TV, but reading is too much effort.

I watched this week's episode of Downton Abbey and the events were so unexpected that it had me sobbing. I don't usually cry over TV shows or movies.

I'm getting weepy again, so I'll say goodbye for now and toddle off to bed to feel sorry for myself.

I tried to add a photo of a "miserable sick woman" and the photo that came up featured a woman who was so pretty it was disgusting.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. Please don't be upset or worried if your comments don't show up for a while. I have comment moderation so the comments aren't published until I approve them. And I don't think I'll be approving or disapproving of much of anything for a bit.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

BRA FITTINGS AND VIBRATORS

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

If the title of this post doesn't cause me to turn up in some interesting searches, then I don't know what will.

Actually, I read two blog posts on which I feel the need to expand.

First, Bobbi at Gracie Owns Me wrote about getting a bra fitting. She found it rather discomfiting and said she doesn't even say "panties." She prefers "underwear."

This post caused me to remember the one bra fitting I've had in my life. It was probably about 25 years ago (obviously I enjoyed it so much that I haven't longed to try it again).

I saw a sign in a department store, don't remember which one it was, and it said they were going to have someone from Playtex in the store to do bra fittings for free. I'd never had a comfortable bra, so although the thought of a bra fitting made me absolutely cringe, I showed up at the store at the appointed time.

The Playtex representative was a very pretty young woman. She was chatting with a sales clerk. They looked at me with disdain when I whispered I was there for the free bra fitting. 

The Playtex girl, who was probably no older than I was, asked questions about what size I was wearing and how did it fit and that sort of thing. I don't remember her taking my measurements. She grabbed a couple of bras and took me to a fitting room with orders to put one on and tell her when I was ready.

I put on the first bra and called out, Excuse me? I'm ready!

She whipped open the door and glared at me. This doesn't fit, she said as if it were my fault. Look. You're pooching out the sides.

Pooching? That must have been a bra technical term. She ordered me to put on the other bra and said she'd be back.

So I put it on and stood there in the dressing room, waiting and waiting and waiting. She never returned.

So I got dressed and walked out. The Queen of Playtex said, Oh, didn't it fit?

Nope, I said, and walked away.

Soon after that I discovered that sports bras had been invented and it was much easier to find a sports bra that fit. Then eventually I tried a bra from Victoria's Secret and figured out the correct size on my own, and I order them online. When I do go into a Victoria's Secret store, the sales clerks always offer me a bra fitting, and I say, No thanks. I know my size.

I don't want random people staring at my boobs in a bra, and then dumping me while I stand around scantily clad. It would be like a date with Coffey when Judy tells him to get his butt home.

As for "panties" v. "underwear," I grew up with some confusion regarding that word. My mom called underwear "pants." When I was in about fifth grade, I realized that what my mom called slacks were called pants by other people and that what my mom called pants were known as underwear or weren't mentioned at all.

I changed my vocabulary to avoid confusion with the rest of the world. I now feel comfortable saying panties, and so I do. For example, after Christmas I told Elvis Aaron Schwarz that I had used a VS gift card to get three sets of matching panties and bras. Then I showed him one of the new sets. While I was in them. He seemed pleased.

Hi! Remember me?
My name is Elvis Aaron Schwarz.
I like my baby doll in her panties or out of them.
Whatever.
I always remember to tell her she's beautiful and desirable.

Oh, that Elvis Aaron Schwarz. His compliments are the best cuz he really means them.

And now onto vibrators. Or maybe I should say on to vibrators. Little Lotta Joy reorganized her linen closet. Click HERE to see the results.

Of course, the first thing I noticed is what I think is a vibrator, so being me, which means politely and pleasantly curious about other people's private stuff, I asked if that was a vibrator in the closet. She said no, that it was a curling iron. When a couple of other people commented on my comment, she said that I think anything long and black is a vibrator!

Well, I felt compelled to point out that I don't own a vibrator, but my mom had one. It said on the box that it was a chin vibrator. I think I was in the third grade when she got it. I took it out of the box and put in on my chin and turned it on. I didn't think it felt all that great or relaxing like the box promised.

My mom said, Leave that alone. That's for me.

I never saw the chin vibrator again. I realize now that the curved shape just seemed so right for . . . you know. But I do not want to think about my mom with a vibrator and I don't care that my parents had six kids. Those people who claimed to be my parents did not have sex.

Some people have suggested to me that I need an arsenal of sex toys and have even given me links so I could purchase them online and not go into a store and whisper that I want a vibrator and which kind is best?

I guess when it comes to vibrators I'm like Bobbi about saying underwear. She prefers to say underwear, and I prefer not to have a vibrator.

But if I see a photo of your closet and it obviously has a vibrator in it, then of course I shall very sweetly and innocently ask you about it. 

So, to the rest of you who take on organizing projects and post photos of them: Hide the vibrator.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, January 25, 2013

MOVIE WEEKEND: HYSTERIA

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

The Hurricane recommended this movie to me, and now I recommend it to you. It's Hysteria, released in 2011 and available on DVD.

It seems half the ladies in Victorian London suffer from hysteria, a problem associated with the uterus.

Mrs. Bellamy: I truly don't even know why I'm here, doctor. 
[pen scraping
Mrs. Bellamy: Well, of course it's difficult running a large household by oneself. And raising four children is exacting, but they're wonderful, wonderful children. And my husband, he's a good man. A very hard worker. Um... Ahem. Well, there is just one thing. Sometimes at night, when he comes to me, I imagine myself splitting his fat bald head with a great large ax.


Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) has built quite a practice by relieving the women of their hysteria through vulvar manipulation that brings on "paroxysms." Dr. Dalrymple is so successful at pleasing the women and thus releasing their nervousness and negative feelings, that he hires a doctor to work with him. This handsome young fellow, Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy), is so successful at pleasuring his patients that he can't keep up with them. Overloaded with work, he can no longer perform the task at hand and is fired by Dr. Dalrymple.

However, Dr. Granville has a friend, Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett), a wealthy playboy who enjoys experimenting with electricity. Soon, St. John-Smythe and Granville develop a plan to put electricity to work to reduce the women's distress.

Edmund St. John-Smythe: [brainstorming] The Rubby-Nubby. 
Mortimer Granville: The Vibratorium. 
Edmund St. John-Smythe: The Jiggly-Wiggly? 
Mortimer Granville: Paroxysmator. 
Edmund St. John-Smythe: Oh, the Sorcerer's Apprentice. 
Mortimer Granville: The Excitetator? 
Edmund St. John-Smythe: Mr. Wobbly. 
Mortimer Granville: Oh, please. 
Edmund St. John-Smythe: What about, The Squealer? 


The rest, as they say, is history. Supposedly this movie is based on a true story. I don't think I want to know if it's true or not. I just want to enjoy it. 

I must also mention the performance of Maggie Gyllenhaal as Dr. Dalrymple's daughter, Charlotte, who volunteers at an East End settlement house, helping the poor and delivering babies, much to the dismay of her father, who wants her to spend her days as her sister Emily (Felicity Jones) does -- playing Chopin and acting in a pleasing manner as "the angel of the house," a very important function of the Victorian woman. Emily also engages in the practice of phrenology, which leads me to the question: Does anyone know what phrenology is? No fair Googling it. I learned about it in a class on the history of the English novel.

At any head, I love Maggie Gyllenhaal, and I love the character of Charlotte.

Hysteria has The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval. It's very funny and not vulgar. However, it's not for children unless you want to be asked some very-difficult-to answer questions.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. As some of you know, our friend Melynda no longer blogs at Crazy World. She is instead devoting herself to our good health through promoting the use of herbalife products and offering her excellent advice. You can find Mel at https://www.GoHerbalife.com/melyndafleury/en-US. Get yourself some vitamins and feel better. Try the protein shakes. They're good for you and absolutely delicious. Melynda will work with you to help you solve specific health problems and to work on weight control. About six months after I started using herbalife products I was able to give up antidepressants, and I had been on them for a number of years. I just plain feel better since Melynda taught me how to eat properly and got me taking vitamins and using organic treatments for some of my physical complaints. Melynda is not trying to take the place of a doctor. It's better to think of her as a coach. Melynda also has The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

DOWNTON ABBEY SEASON THREE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Oh, how I adore Downton Abbey. I love the way that times have changed now that the first war to end all wars is over. Skirts are rising, ankles are showing, and Matthew's mom is trying to help hookers learn to sew.

If you watch Downton Abbey, then you'll know what I'm talking about. If you don't watch it and think you might want to give it a try, then SPOILER ALERT!

My buddy Rita (over at Soul Comfort Corner) and I have been burning up the ether with our email discussions of Downton Abbey, and in particular, that spinsters get up for breakfast. This all started when poor beaky-nosed Lady Edith got jilted at the altar.

How do you do?
I am poor beaky-nosed Lady Edith Crawley.
The man next to me is the dolt who left me at the altar.


Lady Edith can be kind of -- shall we say? -- pissy. Always jealous and causing trouble for her older sister, Lady Mary, who got married recently and then it was supposed to be Edith's turn, and we all know how that ended with Lady Edith dashing home from the church and casting off her veil ever so dramatically so that it gracefully floated over the staircase and to the floor in slow motion and then Lady Edith fell on the bed to sob. Exactly what I did AFTER my wedding. But, I have to admit it wouldn't be easy to have a beauty like Lady Mary as your older sister.


Hello. I was Lady Mary Crawley.
Then I married my distant cousin Mathew Crawley.
Now I am still Lady Mary Crawley.
I am a great beauty and I know it.

Mary and Edith help me realize how fortunate I am to be the youngest of five sisters and the only good looking one. It's so lovely to be hated for one's beauty. Perhaps I shall marry a distant cousin who will one day be Lord Grantham. 

Ah, but I digress.

Back to Edith being a spinster. After Edith lay on her bed and sobbed for a while and refused to eat, then she got up the next day for breakfast because, she said, spinsters get up for breakfast. The matter came up again in the most recent episode. Matthew asked Edith why she didn't stay in bed for breakfast like the other ladies. Well, Matthew, you fool, she's a spinster and she SAID spinsters get up for breakfast.

Now this whole situation has Rita and me wondering why married ladies get to stay in bed for breakfast. Rita opined that it's because of all that sex they're having, which got me to thinking that breakfast in bed might be a married lady's consolation for performing her wifely duty by lying still in bed and thinking of England.

I wonder if Queen Victoria really recommended that sexual advice to her daughters. Another digression, I know. I have a huge biography of Queen Victoria that I hope to read before I die.

So, I guess what this all really comes down to is if you know why married ladies got to have breakfast in bed, then please tell Rita and me because we are burning with desire to know what's up with ladies in bed. And shut that mouth in your dirty mind.

Infinities of Downton Abbey love,

Lady Janie Junebug



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

HEEEEERE'S FRANKLIN!

HI EVERYBUDDY! It's me me me me mememememememe -- Franklin the Bordernese.

Mom said I could write today's blog post cuz her throat is sore and she has a headache (whine whine whine, right?).

Besides, I have something so cool to tell you. I got to visit elvisenronshorts's house last weekend, and I THINK I'M IN LOVE.

Her name is Dixie. She is my new bitch (Mom said I should mention that I learned the word bitch from Samson who lives with Inger at Desert Canyon Living. I just thought of something else, and don't tell Mom I said this, but Mom is elvisenronshorts's bitch heheheheheheheh. Sometimes I am so funny I just crack myself up).

Here's a picture of Dixie:

Isn't she just beautiful? She likes to spin in circles when she gets a t-r-e-a-t. Mom thinks I don't know what that spells, but it means biscuit.

Dixie likes to play. We played together a lot. We ran and we sniffed each other you know where. You do know where, don't you? Out in the yard. We sniffed each other's faces. We even kissed each other on the face. Oh, Wow!

And here's the very coolest thing about Dixie: She has her very own doggie door. If she wants to go outside when it's dark and elvisenronshorts is sleeping, she doesn't even have to tell him he needs to get up to open the door. She can just go out.

elvisenronshorts said that one time his sister started screaming Oooooo! Get it out of my bed! because Dixie killed a mole and brought it in the house and put it in elvisenronshorts's sister's bed. I guess she didn't understand it was a present.

Anyway, I don't get it, but Mom says that's the reason we don't have a doggie door. Also because of the time one of her sister's dogs put a dead squirrel in bed with her. Some people just don't appreciate gifts.

I wanna ask you all something. You know I'm a Bordernese. Well, Dixie is a Rottenwiler. Do you think a Bordernese and a Rottenwiler can be in love? Wait -- I just figured it out. We're both dogs. It's okay. It doesn't matter that we're different kinds of dogs.

I hope Harper doesn't get jealous about Dixie. He's still my bromance buddy.

Thanks, elvisenronshorts, for letting me visit you and Dixie. I love you and Dixie a whole, whole bunch.

I love you, everybuddy!

Franklin the Bordernese

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

OFFICE DEPOT, YOU SUCK

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Last week Elvis Aaron Schwarz got a new credit card. He activated it and then decided to break it in by buying a notebook computer at Office Depot in Gainesville, Florida (if Gainesville has more than one Office Depot, I'm sorry you're getting picked on because the manager at the other Office Depot is a dip stick). Elvis was going to use the computer at work to put in figures when he's on a water testing site. Obviously, his employer should provide him with the tools he needs, and they should pay him decently, too, but they don't.

EAS went to the cash register with the computer and his new card. The cashier swiped the card and the screen said to request an ID. Elvis showed her his ID. Then, through some error, the screen said FRAUD.

The manager said, Yeah, he looks like a deadbeat.

Elvis told the cashier that he didn't blame her for the problem and it wasn't her fault, and then he told the manager that if he said one more word he would f&*(^%! throw him through the window. Then he said, That's my truck right there. You can see the tags. Call the police if you want.

Office Depot manager, even if you think fraud is being committed, then you can still be polite in handling it unless you know for a fact that the customer is trying to get away without paying for your crappy merchandise. After all, sometimes machines and cashiers make mistakes. And you better not ever call my honey bunny a deadbeat again.

My sweetheart gets up early every morning and works hard all day long to make sure that people like YOU, dumb manager, have safe water coming out of your faucet everyday. I don't think many people appreciate how important Elvis's job is and that besides testing the water, he gets parasites from the poopy water. He also has to deal with all sorts of things that people flush that are not intended to be flushed. He shrugs it off and says it comes with the job.

But being called a deadbeat shouldn't be part of Elvis Aaron Schwarz's life.

Hi! I think you remember me.
I'm Elvis Aaron Schwarz.
I'll never shop at Office Depot again.

I'll never shop at Office Depot again, either, Elvis. 

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Monday, January 21, 2013

ABUSERS AND THE ABUSED

You've probably read horrific accounts of patients abused in nursing homes. And it definitely happens.

But I'm willing to bet you've never heard about the other people abused in nursing homes: staff members.

Vera, a night wanderer on the second floor, wheeled herself into her neighbors' room at about 2 a.m. "Vera," I whispered loudly, "you can't be in here. It's not your room."

Looking as fierce as a pit bull preparing to clamp down on an unsuspecting caretaker, she opened her mouth to hiss, "I can go wherever I want."

"Vera, c'mon. You'll wake these two ladies and maybe frighten them," I said, as I grabbed the handles of her chair and pulled her out of the room.

When we reached Vera's room, she turned on me and started slapping me with both her hands.

I swear to God there is no one stronger than an 80-year-old woman in a wheelchair who wants her own way and she doesn't care what she has to do to get it.

I had something on my side, though. My legs worked and I could run faster than Vera could wheel her chair.

Owen, fondly known as "Pop," got pretty pissed when a charge nurse told him he stunk and that it was my job to unstink him. He punched in our direction like a shadow boxer.

"Stay back," the nurse warned me. "He will punch you in the face if he gets the chance."

Yeah, right. So how was I supposed to get close enough to wash him? Jo came in and saved the day. Pop liked Jo because she took him to the day room to watch old episodes of The Cosby Show, which were new to him. He listened to Jo's soft voice when she promised she'd take him to watch TV after I helped him clean up.

On the third floor, my great nemesis, Dot, once grabbed my face with her long polished nails because she didn't want her diaper changed. Fortunately, one of my favorite co-workers, Carol, was there, too. I put up my hands to try to protect myself from Dot and might have hit her in self defense if Carol hadn't been there to pry Dot's claws from my face. Perhaps I wouldn't have been fired for slapping her hands in that situation, but I would have been raked over the coals and suspended for anywhere from a week to six months.

And then there was Carl, who was psychotic? schizophrenic? a sociopath?

I don't know what his diagnosis was, but Carl once told me that the lights on the building across the street were electric eyes watching him. ''I can close the blinds," I said. "We'll shut them out."

"No, it wouldn't do any good," Carl said dejectedly.

I was lucky that Carl liked me. Why some patients with mental problems took a liking to certain staff members and couldn't stand others was incomprehensible. The secret was in the patient's befuddled mind, just as it was when Carl grabbed a young man who worked in the laundry and put his hands around the kid's neck.

 It took a number of nurses and GNAs to keep Carl, still going strong at 70-some years old, from strangling the boy he happened to be in the mood to abuse.

We could't hit back. It was against the law. The only retribution I ever saw a patient face was when Letitia became angry with a pretty young LPN who tried to give Letitia her meds. Letitia chased the pretty young LPN out into the hall and tried to whack the poor girl with her cane.

Letitia was promptly hauled off for a visit to the psych ward at the local hospital.

But she soon returned to our facility.

Oh, yes. The lunatics often took over the asylum.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

LAUGHING WITH VIVIE

Now that I have you interested in Vivie (read Part One of The Birth of a Bedsore HERE and read Part Two HERE), I'm going to make you crazy and not tell you the rest of the story.

If I tell you everything, then why should you buy the book when it's finished?

I feel as if I have a good start on the story of Vivie and I'll be able to tell the rest of her story in the book.

However, I'll give you a little side story about Vivie, and maybe you won't be quite as irritated with me for making you wait for the book.

The nursing home didn't have a regular band of volunteers. Occasionally a church group would come in for a hymn sing, or a local musical group might sing or play instruments. The local "Fuzzy Buddies" volunteers visited with therapy dogs and placid cats willing to be hugged. A different pastor from the area conducted a church service once a month. The residents adored these visits. Although they loved many of the workers they saw everyday, new faces were special and fun.

I think the entertainment the residents enjoyed the most, however, was the time some of our nursing home chain's employees from another city came to our little corner of the retirement world to put on a show they performed regularly at nursing homes. They dressed as country music singers and lip-synched to popular records. Our patients clapped in time to the music, if they could, and we saw many smiles that day.

The woman who portrayed Dolly Parton had on plenty of make-up, a big blonde wig, and a large chest. Her ta-tas were more bodacious than mine!

After the entertainment, the performers walked around, talking to the residents and joking with them.

Vivie pointed to "Dolly Parton's" boobs. "Th-those are r-really something," she giggled.

Dolly reached in her blouse and took out two balloons, which she presented to Vivie, who put them in the front of her housecoat. As Bernadette, one of the staff members from activities, and I wheeled Vivie back to her room, Vivie laughed and stuck out her chest and made the most of what she suddenly had.

When we arrived at Vivie's room, Bobby had just put Vivie's pitcher of fresh water on her bedside table. Bobby was a senior in high school who worked part time as a hospitality aide. He was a nice kid who was always pleasant and even tempered. He also happened to be pretty darn cute.

As he left the room and we walked in, his eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw the chest of Vivie's housecoat.

After he was gone, Vivie unsnapped the top of her housecoat and called out, "Oh, Baaaaaahhhhhby! Bobby, why don't you come back for another look?"

Vivie wiggled and simpered as Bernadette and I giggled.

Fortunately, Bobby did not return. I don't think he would have known what to do if he had!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

THE BIRTH OF A BEDSORE: PART TWO

To read the first part of The Birth of a Bedsore, click HERE.

As Vivie and I grew closer, I learned that the woman, Barbara, who put her to bed each night was not her daughter, as I had assumed. Vivie had been this family's landlady at one time. Their little girl, Megan, thought of  Vivie as her grandma. Barbara's husband also came to visit regularly.

These people were among the most faithful visitors in the building, and they weren't even related to Vivie by blood. They just loved her.

I did see Vivie with a visitor one other time. The first Christmas I worked at the nursing home, an unattractive burly biker-type guy came in with his equally unattractive wife. They were Vivie's son and daughter-in-law, and they were drunk. They brought beer along. Maybe they felt they needed it to get through the family reunion. When I stopped by Vivie's room that day to give her fresh water, it smelled like a brewery. She looked at the pair with absolute disgust; they didn't seem to notice. They had poured a cup of beer for Vivie, which she didn't touch. As soon as the pair left, I hurried to her room and asked if I should pour it out.

"Yes, y-yes, g-get rid of it,"  she stammered.

I did, and reported the incident to the charge nurse. She raised her eyebrows, but said nothing.

I never saw those visitors again.

After I earned my GNA license, I became responsible for the direct care of the patients; that is, my duties included keeping them clean and dry, and since I worked the night shift, turning them in bed regularly to avoid bedsores, more accurately known as decubitus ulcers. Elderly or bedridden people are prone to bedsores because they tend to spend many hours sitting or lying in the same position. The skin on which most of their weight rests gradually breaks down and opens up into a runny sore that grows deeper and deeper, sometimes going all the way to the bone in spite of treatment.

Vivie was on South Hall, so her care was usually in my jurisdiction. Now that I was no longer responsible for bringing her snacks or fresh water, I didn't see a lot of her because she didn't need much during the night. She could roll over in bed and pick up her water pitcher to get a drink if she needed one.

Occasionally Barbara would call Bernadette, a member of the activities staff, to tell her she couldn't come in that night to put Vivie to bed. Bernadette would make sure the word got out that I was needed. Vivie couldn't remember my name. She referred to me as "that girl."

"I-I want that girl to put me to bed," she'd splutter. Almost everyone knew she meant me. If I happened to be working on the second floor, someone would call for me or come down to tell me that Vivie had requested my services. I was glad to go -- glad to do what I could to make her happy.

I had already figured out that Vivie had some form of dementia, maybe Alzheimer's, since she couldn't remember names and had difficulty coming up with words. But when I started helping her change for bed, I learned she had only one breast. So I knew she had had cancer, or perhaps still had cancer. She also slept with supplemental oxygen running into her nose through a nasal cannula, so she may have had emphysema, too.

Strangely, we GNAs were given very little information about the care the patients needed. I never understood if the charge nurses felt they didn't have time to tell us about the patients, or if they thought we were too stupid to understand. I probed for information constantly. Sometimes I got answers to my questions -- sometimes not. Sometimes the nurses said they didn't know what a patient's condition was. They just followed orders for medications and passed them out.

So most of what I knew about the patients was conjecture based on long-term observance. That's why I didn't know much about Vivie's multiple illnesses.

But then she developed a problem that I saw from the moment of its inception.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

THE BIRTH OF A BEDSORE: PART ONE

How I adored Vivie! Our love affair began when I was still a hospitality aide, emptying the laundry bins for the GNAs, one of whom I would soon be.

One of my most important evening tasks, and one that was required by law, was offering an evening snack to the patients. I didn't get a lot of takers since most of the old folks had their supper and wanted to head straight for bed.

But I asked anyway: "Would you like some juice? Would you like some ice cream? How about a sandwich?"

Faith, who was an old hand at the hospitality aide business and who trained me, told me not to ask Vivie if she wanted a snack. "She never wants anything," Faith told me.

But disobedient soul that I am, I asked Vivie anyway. Faith was right. Vivie always shook her head and waved me away.

But with persistence I had a Vivie breakthrough. Each evening a woman and her young daughter, perhaps the daughter was four or five, would come in to put Vivie to bed.

Just before Halloween, the little girl was wearing her Halloween costume. She was dressed as a princess.

"Your Highness," I cried, as I entered Vivie's room, "I didn't realize you are a princess."

Then I curtsied.

The little girl giggled and Vivie giggled. After that, Vivie smiled when she saw me, though she continued to wave me away.

One night I got to Vivie's room with my snack cart just after the woman had gotten Vivie into bed, wearing a fresh snap-up-the-front smock and with a hairnet on her dark hair to keep her permed, dyed curls in place.

"Would you like a snack?" I inquired as usual.

"Why do you ask me?" Vivie spluttered. "You know I never want anything."

"I ask because I care," I said.

"Oh, oh," Vivie responded, making her usual spluttering noises as she searched for the right word. "Oh, I just love you."

I hugged her and kissed her cheek.

I knew I had a new friend.

Monday, January 14, 2013

THOSE WHO COULD NOT SPEAK: RAYMOND

"Janie," Lynn said to me, "will you please put Raymond's shoe and sock on for him? I know his feet are cold."

"Of course, " I told our director of nursing, although I knew Raymond would remove the shoe and sock from his blue foot within minutes after I put them on.

Like Vada, Raymond was developmentally disabled. He didn't walk at all. He was incontinent and didn't speak. He had no visitors, no family as far as we knew.

Our nursing home took many indigent people from the community. I was told we had a policy of not turning away anyone in need.

Raymond spent his days using his feet to move his wheelchair up and down East Hall, the hall with the most patients. Also the hall with the most difficult cases.

When a charge nurse gave us our assignments as we began our shifts, I always asked for South Hall, but said of course I would work wherever I was needed. However, I always requested that I not be alone if I had East Hall. "Those people poop sooooo much," I often said.

Plus, they were very messy poopers -- difficult to clean up. Raymond could be especially problematic. When he was in bed and had a full diaper, if we didn't find it right away, Raymond almost always "finger painted," the phrase we used to describe a patient who used his hand to remove the feces from his diaper and smear it on his bed rails and sheets and anything else within reach.

Raymond didn't finger paint because he wanted to be nasty or cause trouble. I think he played with poop because it was there.

He never fought us or tried to be difficult when we cleaned him up. Although he took off his shoes and socks, as far as I could tell it, he did it because he liked having bare feet even though his feet were very cold. He didn't even struggle during the frequent finger sticks used to monitor his diabetes.

Raymond could feed himself, but after a few bites, he would wheel himself out of the dining room. I couldn't blame him. The food seldom looked appetizing, but he needed to eat. We had orders to encourage Raymond to eat at meals, but he didn't seem to understand what we said. He never appeared to understand what we said. He didn't seem to even listen, although he wasn't deaf.

Life for Raymond seemed much like life for a hamster running on a wheel and never getting anywhere. He was in a world of his own.

My daughter, Katharine, was a high school student when I worked at the nursing home. She had an adorable dog she had adopted at the county humane society. Emma was a large Labradoodle, adorable and full of life and love. Emma was crazy about everyone. When we took her shopping with us to buy her pet food, children always wanted to pet Emma.

"Sit," we commanded, and Emma immediately sat and held very still while the children giggled and stroked her.

Emma had the kind of furry face that made people fall in love with her immediately.

Because she was so sweet and friendly, I asked Katharine to bring Emma to the nursing home to visit the residents. So many of them were lonely and had little to distract them from the daily routine.

I had no idea that Emma's interaction with Raymond would provide one of the sweetest and most touching moments in my life.

Katharine was happy to bring Emma, so I obtained permission for the visit from our administrator, a very kind person who treated her employees and patients with respect, concern, and dignity.

Katharine and I took Emma up and down the halls. Her big tail swished with joy. She wiggled with delight at meeting so many new people and receiving so much attention.

Then she passed Raymond as he paddled along on East Hall. I was surprised that he noticed her, and even more surprised when he put out his hand to pet her.

Emma stood very still and was on her best behavior, acting the same way she did when a child wanted to pet her.

Then I heard a voice, a small hoarse whisper. It was Raymond.

"Good doggie. Good doggie," he said as he touched Emma gently.

I had tears in my eyes because of the beauty of the moment, and I thanked Katharine for providing a special evening for Raymond.

I never heard Raymond's voice again. He died soon after he met Emma.

I'm still so grateful that Emma and Katharine gave Raymond a moment of happiness before he passed away.

"Good doggie." What could be better last words?

Emma

Friday, January 11, 2013

MOVIE MOVIE WEEKEND: SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD & CRAIGSLIST JOE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I am happy to present two movies to you for possible viewing this weekend. Both are available on DVD, and they share my beloved theme of the interconnectedness of humankind.

The first is Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World. I can't remember if Favorite Young Man recommended this movie to me, or if I saw it mentioned on someone's blog. Anyway, if you suggested that I see this movie, I thank you.

An asteroid is going to collide with Earth, destroying everything and killing everyone. As Dodge (Steve Carell) enters the true final days (not the Mayan apocalypse), his wife jumps out of their car and runs. She simply disappears, leaving Dodge to try to cope with the end by continuing his work at an insurance company and by hanging out with friends who have gone wild.

Then Dodge meets his long-time neighbor, Penny (Keira Knightley). They've never spoken before, but they set out on a journey together as the city in which they live erupts in violence.

Although this plot certainly isn't happy go lucky carefree comedy, I like it. Dodge and Penny connect, and in turn, they connect with some other people who want to spend their last days of life in peace and harmony.

I also love Steve Carell's performance in this movie. He's not crazed and ridiculous. This Steve Carrel is calm and thoughtful -- more like his role in Little Miss Sunshine, the film that first brought Carrel to my attention. After I saw Sunshine, I started watching The Office. I loved the way the character of Michael Scott developed and changed and improved as a human being.

Keira Knightley is fine, and beautiful, of course, but it was Carell who really caught my eye.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World has The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval. However, if you're depressed, this movie might not be right for you. How you feel about it may depend on the mood you're in. I felt good at the beginning of the movie. The plot made me a little sad, but the lovely moments transcended the sadness.

The second film I present for your consideration is a documentary called craigslist joe.



Filmmaker Joe Garner sets off on a 31-day journey with a cameraman, a cell phone, a laptop, no food nor money, and little clothing. His goal is to see if he can use craigslist to find a community that will allow him to survive his journey.

I don't want to reveal too much about what happens to Joe, but I will tell you that this is a quiet movie with tender moments. Joe Garner seems truly touched when he encounters kindness.

craigslist joe also earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Thursday, January 10, 2013

LITTLE SHACK BY THE RAILROAD TRACK *title sorta stolen from Melynda, who got it from fishducky

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Recently, Melynda entertained us with stories about her lack of water because of frozen pipes in Little Trailer On The Prairie. I nearly cried for poor dear Melynda as she shoveled snow into pans so she could melt it on the stove and use it to flush her toilet.

Well, guess whose toilet couldn't be flushed next?

The fun began -- let's see -- was it Monday night? Hot Young Anthony knocked on my door. Sadly, he was wearing a shirt. He pointed out to me that the pipe taking water into my house was spraying said water out into the yard. I don't want you to end up with a huge water bill, he said.

Favorite Young Man was due to stop by, which he did, and he dutifully crawled under the house to see what was wrong. He said that the metal pipe in front of the house had rusted through. Only a small portion of it needed to be replaced up to the point where it joined the PVC pipe under the house.

FYM insisted it was a simple repair, said he could do it himself, but he didn't have time.

Waaaaaa! He told me to hurry up and take my shower because he was going to turn off the water to the house. I also filled pots, pitchers, and cups with water.

The next morning I called a guy who had worked on my house before who had said he could take care of minor plumbing problems. Number out of service.

More waaaaa! I called my friend, Bethie, the nice realtor who sold the house to me. She said, Call my dad.

Bethie's dad is a real sweetheart. He's done some work on my house, too.

But he didn't call me back. Finally, I called him again. He answered and said he had a doctor's appointment and he was getting ready to go out of town and he said, Would you please call somebody else?

I called Bethie again. She gave me the number of another guy to call. I called and left a message on his voice mail.

As I waited to hear from him, I started to worry a bit. The toilets needed to be flushed and I was running low on water. I had used some to fill the doggies' water dish, to brush my teeth, to wash my face, etc.

I decided I had better turn into a pioneer girl like Melynda and melt some snow to flush the toilet.

So I went out with a shovel and a pan to get some snow.

No snow in sight.

Would snow fall soon?

Not according to the weather report on my phone. It was 80 degrees.

So much for that idea.

But speaking of pioneer girls, if you ever read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books (which I loved and still do), did you ever notice that Laura described, in meticulous detail, Pa building their little houses, but she never wrote "And then Pa dug a nice deep hole and built the privy over it so we no longer had to take a crap in the grass"? Nope. Laura never wrote a word about takin' a shit.

But then Dan the plumbing man called me back and said he would come out and take a look at the pipe. Dan showed up, and he didn't look like any plumber I'd ever seen. Elvis Aaron Schwarz, are you reading this?

No response.

I'm whistling and singing.

Elvis?

Nope. He's not reading.

Dan the plumbing man was hot. I've never seen such a hot plumber. But he also wasn't dressed to work. He was wearing nice pants and a white shirt and a necklace. And hot. He was wearing hot.

Dan the plumbing man looked at the pipe and said, Well, I can't do it today, but I'll call a friend of mine who lives near here. If he can do it, he'll come over.

Dan the plumbing man, I begged, would you please turn on the water long enough for me to flush and refill my pots? He kindly did, and then the water was gone again.

Then I waited.

Nobody called. Nobody showed up.

Elvis Aaron Schwarz called this morning and asked how I was. I don't have water, I growled.

WHAT? You can't get anybody to fix that? What's the matter with people who don't want to work? Elvis Aaron Schwarz hollered.

Then while he had me on his cell phone, he picked up the land line where he works and called the city of Jacksonville's water department. I could hear him talking to them as he said, My name is Elvis Aaron Schwarz and my fiancee hasn't had water for two days . . . and then the phone conversation faded away, and I said, Re-roll the tape, and I heard Elvis Aaron Schwarz definitely referring to me not as his girlfriend or his main squeeze, but his fiancee.

I thought, I have been upgraded from coach to first class.

Hi! Remember me?
My name is Elvis Aaron Schwarz.
Yup, it's true. I told the guy at the water
department that my baby doll
is my fiancee.

Of course, I can't marry Elvis Aaron Schwarz because I would lose my maintenance from Dr.
X, which I need. But, gosh, it's nice to be called "my fiancee."

Anyway, the city couldn't recommend anyone to help me. It's against the law for them to suggest a particular plumber, the guy said.

I told Elvis Aaron Schwarz that I would call Dan the plumbing man again, and when I did, he said he had a job that had taken longer than expected and as soon as they finished he would come to my house.

Dan and crew arrived early this afternoon. The pipe has been replaced, the water is back on, and I flushed the toilets and took a shower.

I did not invite Dan the plumbing man to join me in the shower because I am the fiancee of Elvis Aaron Schwarz.

Infinities of love and water,

Janie Junebug

P.S. Did any of you notice that the Academy Award nominations were announced this morning? You may recall my review of Beasts Of The Southern Wild. This film was nominated for Best Movie, Best Director, and as predicted by yours truly, Quvenzhan√© Wallis, who plays Hushpuppy, was nominated for Best Actress. She is the youngest Best Actress nominee in history, at the ripe old age of nine. I believe she was five when she made the movie.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

THOSE WHO COULD NOT SPEAK: VADA

Before the nursing home occupied the fairly attractive and modern facility in which I worked, it was in an old house. Donna, the night supervisor, said she missed the house -- that she felt they were more of a family there. A couple of GNAs who had worked for the nursing home for years agreed with her. The house was more homey, they said, which, of  course, made sense.

A few of the patients had been in the nursing home long enough that they had also lived in the house. One of them was Vada. Donna told me that when they were in the house, Vada walked and used the toilet. She lived in the home because she was indigent, had no family of which we were aware, and was incapable of living on her own. I surmised she was developmentally disabled and had long been institutionalized by state authorities. Donna told me that Vada's abilities had always been limited to simple sentences, coloring with crayons, and joining in on games such as bingo. When I knew Vada, though, she was in a wheelchair and she didn't talk at all. The only sound she made was a strange chortling noise that we thought was laughter.

Gradually, however, a couple of the other GNAs and I figured out she made the noise when she was afraid. We learned this when Faith tipped Zelda's wheelchair backwards a bit and discovered she made the sound. We laughed, thinking we laughed with her because she enjoyed the surprise.

But then we realized from her expression that Vada wasn't happy and enjoying the experience. She was just plain scared. After that, I heard Vada make the noise at the flash of a camera or when we transferred her from her wheelchair to her bed and sometimes didn't make it. Occasionally, patients struggled while we moved them. If we couldn't get them on the bed or the toilet because they clung to us wildly or wiggled like toddlers, we lowered them to the floor as gently as possible and sought reinforcements to pick up the patient from the floor and get her where she needed to go.

Vada frequently ended up being lowered to the floor because of her struggling and because she was 200 pounds of dead weight. She couldn't support herself at all.

Vada, like Ronnie, shocked me one Saturday night. I got off the elevator on the third floor to start my shift. Vada sat directly in front of the elevator.

"Girl, will you put me to bed?" she shouted.

All the staff members within hearing distance were amazed to hear Vada speak, and in a complete sentence. We figured Vada REALLY wanted to go to bed.

I hugged her and said, "Of course I'll put you to bed. Just let me take off my jacket."

And I kept my promise.

Vada's condition gradually deteriorated during the months I knew her. She went from using the toilet (with our help, of course) to total incontinence. She lost the ability to swallow food and was put on a diet of pureed mush with "drinks" that had corn starch added to thicken them so she wouldn't suck liquids into her lungs and get pneumonia.

And her sometimes frustrating, but amusing, antics came to an end. One night she had taken the toothbrushes from every bathroom on South Hall and put them in a vase to create a multi-colored bouquet. On another occasion, she took a woman's glasses and dentures -- just before the patient's family appeared for a visit. They were quite irate when they found Mom without glasses and teeth. We scoured the third floor for the specs and the choppers and were very relieved to find them in the drawer of Vada's bedside table.

Angry family members were no fun. Although they often had good reasons to be angry, sometimes the incident that upset them was beyond our control. For example, almost all the patients wanted to go to bed right after supper. We could not put 65 or 70 patients to bed at the same time. When families came in and saw that Dad had fallen on the floor trying to put himself to bed because we ignored him (they thought), they became very angry.

As Vada's health deteriorated, she became one of the patients who really needed to go to bed as soon as possible after dinner. Many evenings, Vada's head drooped and she dozed in her wheelchair while she waited for bed.

One night, she cried, apparently from exhaustion. Zelda, who usually insisted on being put to bed right after dinner -- and got her way -- demanded that I "put that poor soul to bed right now." It was the first glimmer I had of Zelda's capacity to empathize with others.

Then one night when I came to work early -- before dinner -- I found Vada in bed, sound asleep. The day staff had put her there for a nap because she had fallen asleep in her wheelchair. I couldn't wake her by saying her name. I pinched her hand gently and she made absolutely no movement or sound. The Director of Nursing, Lynn, was assisting with patient care. Frightened, I asked her to check Vada.

She did and said she was sure Vada would be all right. "Vada had some medicine today that made her sleepy," Lynn explained. "She should sleep it off and be all right in the morning."

I didn't know what the medicine was for, but it didn't seem to help. Vada slept more and more and was quite obviously moving toward the end of her life.

Then early one morning I went to change Vada's diaper before I left for the day. I found Vada awake and waiting for me with eager eyes.

"I NEED TO SHIT!" she shouted.

"I'll get you a bedpan," I told her.

I rolled Vada onto her side, put her on the pink plastic bedpan, raised the head of the  bed some, and Vada let out a mighty groan as she released a large solid ball of poop. It must have been a while since the poor woman had pooped, and I bet it was painful.

It turned out to be Vada's final poop and last words.

I went home after cleaning her bottom. I had the next two days off.

When I returned to work, Vada was gone. She had died in her sleep. Every trace of her had disappeared, as if she never existed.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

THOSE WHO COULD NOT SPEAK: RONNIE

The nursing home had its share of patients whose ability to speak was quite limited or even non-existent. Patients in a vegetative state usually made no sound at all. When one of these ladies moaned very early in the morning, we discovered she had a swollen ankle. An x-ray the next day revealed the bone was broken.

Ronnie had Huntington's Chorea. About every thirty minutes during the evening -- our busiest time because we needed to put the residents to bed -- he would hoist himself up and out of his bed, wobble to the doorway of his room, and in a voice as a shaky as his legs cry out, "I need to pee!"

Invariably we replied, "If you can walk to the door, then you can walk in the bathroom. Go in there and pee."

"Okay," Ronnie would mumble, and walk like a drunken sailor into the bathroom.

I never heard him say anything other than "I need to pee," with the exception of two occasions.

I almost always worked on the third floor, as did most of the nurses and the assistants. The third floor had 85 - 90 patients, and they were the more serious cases. The second floor had 15 - 20 patients, and some of them could perform quite a bit of their own care.

Thus, the second floor never had more than one nurse and rarely had more than one assistant.

At one point, I was assigned to the second floor for about three months.

When I returned to duty on the third floor, back on my South Hall, I headed to Ronnie's room to help him into his pajamas.

He looked shocked to see me. "Where the heck ya been?" he hollered.

I hugged him and explained I'd been working on the second floor. He didn't say anything else, other than his regularly scheduled need- to-pee speech.

About three months after I quit working at the nursing home because my husband and I moved to another state, I returned for a visit.

I got off the elevator on the third floor. The only person in sight was Ronnie. He sat in his special padded chair directly outside the door to his room.

I headed down South Hall, thinking I would pass him and he wouldn't know who I was, but he surprised me.

"Janie! Where ya been?" he shouted.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I told him I had moved to another state and didn't work at the nursing home anymore.

I kissed his forehead, said farewell, and sought out one of the nurses I knew. When I told her about Ronnie, she said, "I didn't think he even knew any of our names."

Sometimes patients absorbed more information than we thought they were capable of doing.

Friday, January 4, 2013

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

We present for your consideration 2012's Beasts Of The Southern Wild, recently released on DVD.

This movie won awards at Cannes and Sundance for first-time feature film director Benh Zeitlin.

I find myself at a loss for words -- yes, yes, I know, very unusual. How does one take abject poverty and misery and violence and turn it into a thing of beauty?

Somehow it is accomplished in this movie about six-year-old Hushpuppy, who lives in the Mississippi Delta with her daddy, Wink. You may find Wink abusive, but perhaps he is preparing Hushpuppy to go on living when he dies.

I cannot tell you to watch this movie. You must decide for yourself if you can bear the destitution, the desecration. You must see for yourself if you can find the love and beauty in the empowerment of a child.

I have decided I will use the following words to describe Beasts Of The Southern Wild: 

Magical.

Mysterious.

Mythological.

Archetypal.

I predict an Academy Award nomination of some sort for Quvenzhan√© Wallis, who plays Hushpuppy. It should be a Best Actress nomination, but she might end up shuffled over to Best Supporting Actress.

Hushpuppy: I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe, and that makes it right.

In this film I see the interconnectedness of humankind, the theme -- the belief -- I love above all others.

Watch if you will. Watch at your own risk. Watch if you dare.

Are you brave enough? It's okay if you aren't. I almost turned off the TV after the first ten minutes, but I made myself stick it out to see if I could find anything redeeming in this film.

And I did.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. I sponsor two children through charities that organize that kind of support. The first child is a little girl in Syria; the second child is a boy who lives in the Mississippi Delta. If his life is anything like Hushpuppy's, then my help is a mere drop in his bucket of misery. Don't comfort me. Don't tell me it's enough that I help, because nothing is enough. 







Thursday, January 3, 2013

ZELDA PART THREE

To read part one of Zelda's story, click HERE. To read part two, click HERE.


I knew that the best way to change my behavior toward Zelda was to follow the teachings of Christ. Most important in this case, to love my neighbor as myself.

If Zelda wasn't my neighbor, then who was? I put her on the bedpan. I wiped the woman's butt when she pooped. She farted in my face. That kind of relationship is about as close as one can come to neighborly. Maybe closer.

I needed to love my neighbor. I needed to love my Zelda.

And I didn't.

So I decided to pretend. I've always heard that if you don't feel like smiling, then smile anyway and before you know it, the smile will be natural.

The next time I put Zelda to bed, I kissed her forehead and said, "I love you."

"I love you, too," she answered.

I don't think Zelda was pretending. I think she had the love of Christ in her all along, and it was up to me to release it.

I moved on from "I love you," to smiling every time I went in Zelda's room. I moved her body as gently as possible. I didn't rush her care. I asked her questions about herself and learned she didn't hear well, which must have increased her feelings of isolation.

She never went to the dining room. She had meals in her room. She didn't attend sing-alongs or movies or bingo or any other gathering provided by the activity staff. I think she was afraid that if she left her room that no one would take her back and return her to the safe haven of her bed.

Her fear was realistic. I had come across other residents who waited for hours to be put in bed and receive a clean diaper.

When Christmas arrived, the nursing home held a party for the residents, complete with a Santa Claus.

But the party was on the first floor. Many of the third-floor residents were virtually immobile and couldn't attend. I found the director of the home and begged her to bring Santa to the third floor for a visit. She complied with my request.

When Santa arrived on the third floor, electricity crackled in the air. Santa had come upstairs just to see the residents. When he walked past Zelda's room, she saw him and called out to me, "Tell Santa to come in here."

I corralled Santa and led him to Zelda. She sang to him -- a song she had written years before. She remembered every word and every note. Santa and the nursing home director and I applauded, and Santa asked Zelda how she had written such a beautiful song.

"The Lord gave it to me," she answered, humbly.

Soon after, I was well into my 12-hour night shift when I had a Zelda breakthrough. I went to answer her call light. After she had used the bedpan, she gestured toward the recliner she no longer used and said, "Sit down, honey. You must be tired."

She was the only person who had ever made such an offer to me while I was on the job. Everyone wanted something; it was my job to provide it.

But Zelda didn't want a snack or fresh water in her pitcher.

She desired only my comfort.

I knew that our relationship had changed, that we had a relationship.

My love for Zelda burst forth from my heart at last. This love was no longer a pretense.

My joy in caring for Zelda increased seventy times seven.

One night another GNA and I were the only two nursing assistants on the floor for the entire night. It was a nightmare. We couldn't answer call lights. We could only go from one room to the next, changing diapers non-stop. When the day staff arrived at 7 a.m., the complaints began immediately:

The floor was a mess.
Everyone needed to be changed.
No one had been washed.

As soon as I saw the day supervisor, I said, "It's just been the two of us all night, and I don't want to hear one word about what a mess everything is."

I then went into Zelda's room for my last duty of my shift. As I changed her diaper, my tears began to fall. "Honey, you're worn out," she said. "You have to go home and get some rest."

"I will, Zelda. I promise."

I understood then that Zelda was fussy because along with her loneliness, she needed to be needed. In me, I think she saw someone who was imperfect, but trying. When she invited me to sit down and relax, when she told me to go home and rest, she was doing all she could to provide me with the comfort she had once given her children and the members of her husband's congregation. Through my efforts and my imperfections, I inadvertently gave Zelda a renewed purpose in life.

When she developed a bad cough from a cold, I sat with her and held her hand. She said she didn't feel well, which I reported to Evelyn, who rolled her eyes.

I returned to Zelda. Suddenly she had a coughing fit and her face turned blue.

I ran for Evelyn and told her what I'd seen, demanding that she check Zelda. This time, Evelyn listened to me. She hurried to Zelda's room to check her oxygen levels and listen to her breathing.

Soon the paramedics arrived to take Zelda to the hospital, where she stayed for several days because she had pneumonia.

I missed her while she was gone. I also knew I had saved her life by refusing to ignore her.

Zelda also gave me a purpose in my badly damaged life.

Soon after Zelda returned from the hospital, I arrived on the third floor one evening to find the Director of Nursing, Sherrie, looking as if she were ready to pull her hair out.

"Do you know how to put Zelda to bed?" she asked me.

"Sure," I said.

"Oh, thank God," Sherrie said. "She wants to go to bed, but she wouldn't let any of us do it because she said we wouldn't do it right."

Sherrie and I hurried to Zelda's room so I could teach my boss the correct procedure for putting Zelda to bed. As soon as I walked in the room, Zelda's face broke into a smile. I threw my arms around her and said, "I'm so happy to see you."

After Zelda was safely in bed, we left the room and Sherrie said, "You almost had me fooled there. I actually started to think you liked her."

I didn't know how to respond.

Later that night, Michael and I went together to care for Zelda. Before we left the room, as I always did now, I kissed her and told her I loved her.

In the hallway Michael said, "How can you say that? You can't love her."

This time, I knew how to answer.

"What kind of a Christian would I be if I didn't love Zelda?" I asked.

Rest in peace on the wings of angels, my Zelda, my friend, my neighbor.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

ZELDA PART TWO

To read the first part of ZELDA, please click HERE.


Now that I understood Zelda was lonely, I needed to find out more about her life.

I sought details from the charge nurses.

"Her next of kin is her son," Donna, the night supervisor, told me. "He's a pastor at a church not too far from here."

Zelda had a son who was a pastor? I had never seen him.

I asked other staff members about him. No one knew what he looked like because no one had ever seen him.

Evelyn, the charge nurse who was usually on South Hall on Saturday nights, said that two of Zelda's four daughters lived nearby. "The two agreed to take turns spending the day with her so that one of them would be with her part of every day," Evelyn said, "but only one kept her part of the bargain. The other one never comes in anymore."

I'd had contact with the daughter who kept the deal. When I was still a hospitality aide, I'd helped a GNA move Zelda from her recliner to her bed. Zelda was in isolation at the time because she had a staph infection. Because of the infection, she had diarrhea, which we accidentally got on her chair during the move. We wiped the smear of feces off the chair as best we could, but it left a stain.

"I'll watch for her daughter tomorrow," I told the GNA. "I"ll explain what happened to the chair."

I did indeed see the daughter the next day. She was very pleasant and friendly and told me how nice I looked. I thanked her and told her what had happened to the chair.

"I"ll have it cleaned," she said. "No problem."

So, this daughter was nice. She spent every other afternoon with her mom, but when her mom got angry and screamed, her daughter's words to her were "shut up." Not "You need to be quieter, Mom." Not "That's enough of that, Mama. I'll solve the problem."

No. Zelda's daughter told the family matriarch to shut up. I felt confused by the daughter's devotion to her mother, that seemed mixed with hostility. Could it be that the daughter's self-imposed devotion led to her anger? She probably didn't want to spend most of every other day with her mom. And I wouldn't be surprised if she were pretty pissed off at her sister and brother, who somehow couldn't find the time to visit their mother in the nursing home.

As I gathered information about Zelda, I continued to care for her most of the nights that I was on duty. And I continued to see her as my "problem child." I still couldn't satisfy her, and she still pushed the button on her call light every five minutes, except for the rare occasions when she she slept for an hour or two.

Then one night I was working with my good friends, Carol and Michael. As we strolled down South Hall to check on a patient, Zelda's call light lit up and buzzed.

"Stay here," Michael told Carol and me.

Michael then put a sheet over his head and slipped quietly into Zelda's room.

"Who are you?" she demanded.

"I am a ghost," Michael hissed. "Stop turning on your call light all the time. The people who work here don't have time for you."

"Get out of here," Zelda said wearily.

I'm surprised she didn't scream.

As Michael left the room, Carol and I began to giggle. When Michael joined us, we moved away from Zelda's room and practically rolled on the floor, laughing.

Yes, God help me, I laughed. I knew this woman was lonely and in pain and miserable, yet I dared to laugh. Yet another person had told Zelda that no one had time for her.

I vowed that night that if I couldn't change Zelda's behavior, I had to change my own.



More of Zelda's story coming soon, I hope.