Thursday, August 26, 2010

Freaky Story Time at the Nursing Home

Thursday, August 26, 2010
A friend of mine visits her mother at a nursing home every day. While she’s on a brief vacation, I’m checking in on her mom for her, and yesterday was my first visit. Because of my volunteer work, I’ve been on countless nursing home visits, so I feel like I’ve pretty much seen it all, as nursing home visits go. This was just one of the more charming - and alarming - ones.

When I took my friend’s mom, Virginia, into the dining room for a chat, another very sweet woman joined us. (And before long, a gentleman pulled up a chair, too, but he didn’t say much.) Virginia turned out to be a woman of few words. She experiences some confusion and doesn’t always find the right words to express herself. The other woman, though, speaks very well and seemed to have much to say.

She told me that she’s a widow who had no children, and her only brother lives in California. She said she rarely gets visitors and talked about how much she misses her husband. Then she shared that she’d been married twice, the first time when she was very young. Up to this point, I thought this dear lady was in the nursing home for physical reasons only, because she seemed very sharp mentally.

Then she began telling me this long story about how she left her first husband in Virginia, because his mother and sister didn’t want him marrying a “damned Yankee”. And when he offered to drive her back to Michigan, she said she refused his offer and walked back home, singing the whole way. (She said she loves to sing.) That’s when I started to question her lucidity.

But then she told me she’d walked around the world, starting in China and on into Russia, where the Czar had her on the throne next to him and asked her to sing for him. And I knew that this elegant woman definitely had dementia. I did enjoy her beautiful and animated story that went on for about 20 minutes and which would make a lovely children’s book. (Hmmm, now there’s a thought.)

The alarming part of my visit was when the story-telling woman told me that she was 95 years told (as it turns out, she’s 85). I responded that she looked 20 years younger than that and that her skin was beautiful, which it is. She then told me that I looked young and that I have no wrinkles. I assured her that I do have some, and that’s when Virginia chimed in. She said, “Your wrinkles will be gone when you’re 63. And so will you.” Well, that was a first. I kept smiling and asked, “What do you mean, Virgnia?” She said, “You’re gonna die when you’re 63.”

Now I have to admit that I got a little chill when she said that. And I reminded myself that she’d uttered some gibberish earlier, so she probably didn’t realize what she was saying. Or did she? I can’t wait ‘til my friend comes home from her trip, so that I can ask her if her mom is a psychic! In the meantime, I’m going there again today, and you can bet that I’ll be listening to her every word. And who knows - maybe I’ll even make better use of the years I have left!


Claudia said...

I wouldn't pay any attention to that woman. When my husband was being rehabilitated in a nursing home this past spring, I met more strange people than I ever thought possible. During the six weeks he was there, (and I visited him every day,) most of the people we encountered were in their own worlds. It was a very sad experience. I have a feeling Virginia is also in her own world and doesn't have a clue as to your life-expectancy.

Editing4U said...

Thanks for commenting. I was with her again today and asked her if she remembered telling me anything about my wrinkles disappearing when I'm 63 yesterday. She said "I didn't say that." So you're right. (But she said or confirmed it a total of three times. Yikes!) Ah, I'm not worried!

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