We went to see a
Nursing home for my mother.
It had all the
I would expect of a
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,
Emerald seaweed swaying,
And impervious cyan- and canary-striped flounder
Turning calmly at the corners,
And eternally swimming
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
Or the bright eyes 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.
So sorry you are having to go through this, Jen. Great way of seeing the beauty in such a depressing place.
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.
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.