Our new owners decided we should be assigned seating for our meal times. The tables were meant to contain people a variety, from who can't or don't speak, to the clearly demented, to the fairly with it. The point was to have a more family-like atmosphere.
I was distressed to be forced to spend day after day with people who can't carry on a decent conversation.
Over the months, my attitude has changed. I feel like the "mother" of our little group.
Miss W. fools a lot of us into thinking she can't talk. Many meals she avoids eating until one of the aides forced the puree down her throat.
I felt like I had scored a touchdown the first time I asked, "Do you like polish sausage?"
She said, "No!" Her expression suggested extreme dislike.
We've had one or two days where we've carried on a conversation. A few days when she cleans her plate with glee, more when she eats her dessert, more when they have to spoon feed her. These days, when her eyes hover shut, I suspect she's keeping watch of everything that's going on around her.
Miss P. loves to talk. The problem is that she has trouble understanding. In Bingo, she has to hear each number at least twice. I will repeat a word two or three times, speaking as clearly as I can, and she can't understand. Once she finally gets the words (fried chicken breast), she shakes her head. "Well, I've never done anything like that." But she hates to be left out of any conversation.
Miss V.--well, I've never met anyone quite like her. She repeats the same stories over and over and over again, in the same singsong voice. She tries to help. She wants to be friendly. But no one wants to be around her for long (including me).
But over time . . .I help to steer her away from her stories. I acknowledge her pain, and tell her some thing I do to help myself. I have seen her do incredibly touching, tender things. Of the three ladies at my table, she is the one with the sharpest wit and biggest heart.
I am discovering the Miss V. very few of us ever meet. One that takes patience and understanding, but one worth the effort.
A nursing-home-assigned family--but a family none-the-less.