The entertainment the residents enjoyed the most, however, was the time some of our nursing home chain's employees from another city came to put on a show they performed regularly. 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 plenty of make-up, a big blonde wig, and a large chest.
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 I wheeled Vivie back to her room, she laughed and stuck out her chest and made the most of what she suddenly had.
We found Bobby in Vivie's room, where he had left a pitcher of fresh water. 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 I laughed.
Fortunately, Bobby did not return. I don't think he would have known what to do if he had!
That day, I saw how happy Vivie could be.
But a few months later on Christmas Day, I saw how unhappy Vivie could be.
I smelled liquor as I approached Vivie's room. A scruffy man and woman––clearly inebriated––sat with her. They'd poured large cups of beer for Vivie and for themselves.
I walked in; they departed. Vivie's face wore a frozen mask of disgust.
"Do you want me to pour these out?"
"Yes. That was my son and his wife."
I never saw them again, and Vivie never mentioned them.
I had learned that the woman and little girl who put Vivie to bed every evening had lived in an apartment Vivie owned. They were devoted to their former landlady, and arrived at 7 p.m. sharp.
Every evening. Every 7 p.m., that little girl ran in to hug Vivie, who always smiled.
Families can be made of our parents, our children, our siblings.
They can also be made of a landlady and her renters.