Touring the nursing home


We went to see a

Nursing home for my mother.


Heather flower,

In Norwegian.

It had all the

Sad trappings

I would expect of a

Nursing home:

Metal hand rails attached to seemingly everything;

Laminate fake-wood signs warning against

Accidentally letting a resident out of the building;

And of course,

The residents themselves.

Men and women,



With quaky, high voices,

And half a tennis ball stuck onto the bottom of each leg of their walkers.

But you know,

I can make a decision to

Shift my gaze.

I can look


At the aquarium,

With its bubbling, clean,

Cool-looking water,

Emerald seaweed swaying,

And impervious cyan- and canary-striped flounder

Turning calmly at the corners,

And eternally swimming

Back the

Other way.

There’s the aviary in the corner of the lounge

With warm, golden lights

Bathing the small,

Champagne sparrows with black speckles,

Their wings tiny, beating triangles, as they

Hop from perch to perch

And back


Or the bright eyes of

Some of

The residents as they

Turn their heads

And look at you


Sliding their walkers slowly down the sallow white tiled hallway.

Some of them will


In that way of


Who have learned that

Nothing’s truly more important than

A small smile

In a day.


3 thoughts on “Touring the nursing home

    • The smile communicates long after words lose their sensibility. The monochromatic walls and floors with plain tile, rather than wall paper and busy prints on carpet, are a sensory refuge from a world that already provides overwhelming stimulation. The handrails can provide a sense of direction and place to grab a spinning world.

      I hope the staff takes time to listen reflectively, that they have a calm disposition, and that they have willingness to see the whole person. I hope they have empathy for you and the choices you are having to face.

      Did it smell like good food cooking? Is there a friendly hound?

      P.S. I love reading your blog. It’s a privilege.

  1. Jen,
    making a decision or choosing a nursing home for your Mom is indeed a difficult task. Your ability to notice & describe beauty in an otherwise sterile environment is a gift to Marti.

    As for the residents that bother to smile at strangers, consider it a gift given freely. A smile returned is your thank you.

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