search instagram arrow-down

Recent Posts

Archives

Top Posts & Pages

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,642 other followers

likeable-blog-1337-1x.png

Thanks for Freshly Pressing me again!!

Freshly Pressed

Blog Stats

Blogs I Follow

Blog Stats

And again! Thank you to all who follow and support me!!

As In Youth – So Too In Age

I was fifteen and a half, old enough to qualify for part-time work on weekends at a nursing home in Newburyport, MA. My friend, Charlene started working the same day;  our parents shared the carpooling to get us there at 7am.

I knew nothing of nursing homes or of really old people. The uniform was cool, short white dress, white stockings and soft-soled white shoes. I’m not sure why I found it so attractive, when in truth it was hideous even by 1974 standards. Perhaps it had to do with the feeling of being so “grown-up” and having a job. We arrived and were taken though orientation along with two other girls our age. After walking through the entire home, and it was a stately old historic home on High Street, we were paired with a nurse to shadow and learn our duties as aides. A plump, warm middle-aged nurse lead me away from the group.

“The men’s wing is a wonderfully happy place to work, but you have to be comfortable with certain facts of life. Do you think you would be comfortable sponge bathing an old man?”

I was so willing to please, I didn’t give it a minute’s thought, “Of course, why wouldn’t I be?”

She smiled at my bravado and lead me to back of the house. We entered the first room occupied by four gentlemen just finishing their breakfasts in bed. They all called out greetings and she efficiently but gently helped the first man stow his breakfast dishes. A pan of warm water appeared, some soap, a soft towel, washcloth, and a razor. I stood by self-consciously as she and the man went about the routine of changing his diaper, cleaning his body, shaving his whiskers and combing his hair. The nurse showed me how to clean his dentures and apply the glue. It was Saturday, he might have visitors.

At the next bed, she pressed me into further service. Each of the men were remarkably spry and joked liberally with us. I was captivated by the dichotomy of the wonderful atmosphere and my first glimpse of old age.

At the end of my shift, I wandered back to the nurses’ station and was told I could find Charlene on the second floor. As I came down the hall I could hear voices rising and an old woman screaming. Nurses ran into the hall and flew to a room at the end. I followed out of sheer terror and curiosity. One of the elderly patients, was wailing and gesturing wildly. Charlene stood in the middle of the room with a look of horror. In her hands was a large, stainless steel bowl. She had been told clean all the patient’s dentures in the ward. The bowl was overflowing with sparkly clean teeth. With no way to tell who’s were who’s, she was attempting to query and fit each patient with a set from her stash.

Years later, as I sat rubbing his feet, the memory brought a smile.

I arrived at around 11am, he was having clementines on his wooden breakfast dishes with a beautiful squat ceramic pitcher of water nearby. She was buzzing around the kitchen and had a million questions about my book. We caught up very briefly then he began the slow process of taking himself to the toilet. I walked behind, keeping an eye on where the feet of his walker landed. Instead of holding the back of his pants by a belt loop, as is a common practice, I keep one  hand on his shoulder, and one on his lower torso, massaging the muscles that are working so hard to keep him erect. Today he stopped for a while on the journey, I asked if he was OK and did he want to rest? In his thick rolling accent he responded, “No, I’m just enjoying your massage on my back.”

We managed to deal with the frailty and decline of his bodily functions in an intimately human way. While she attended to him, I held him upright. I looked into his eyes at that moment of extreme humiliation, and said “You have the most amazing green eyes!” He looked deep into mine, ignoring the indignity of life occurring and replied, “They used to be greener.”

“Shall we dance?” I purred as I lifted his hand to my shoulder. “Let’s.” he crooned with his green eyes smiling.

“Hang on a minute you two, I’m not done here!” she quipped, as the three of us ignored the reality of the moment.

Later, she went off to shop. He and I were settled in his room where he was tucked in his recliner. I had massaged his hands and was  sitting cross-legged on the floor with a bottle of oil, massaging his feet. I droned on about the hardest working parts of our bodies and having  respect for our hands and feet. He dozed and breathed the moist air of his oxygen tank.

The hum of his machine lulled me into silence as I watched the blood return and the color improve in his skin. I have no massage training but the simple act of giving comfort was enough. Everything we do in life is connected, part of the joy is seeing those threads the weave through the fabric.

DSC_5239

7 comments on “As In Youth – So Too In Age

  1. Simple kindness and human touch. The answers to many of the world’s problems? Nice post

    1. Thank you, it’s a start…

  2. I’m not sure that I could do what you do, so I’m glad that you and others can.

    1. And that, my friend, is what makes the world go ’round!
      Thank you.

  3. mariekeates says:

    What a beautiful gift to give someone at the end of their life! You have my admiration.

    1. Thank you, I am honored to have earned it.

Love to know what you are thinking! And thank you for commenting.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Putnam, in the studio and beyond

Reflections and ruminations in Education, Beauty, Art and Philosophy

Gringa of the Barrio

A Sassy Barrio Gringa Telling It Like It Is

Badfish & Chips Cafe

Travel photos, memoirs & letters home...from anywhere in the world

The city of adventure

From there to back again (usually on a bike)

Nolsie Notes

My stories, observations, and art.

Shellie Troy Anderson

~ WRITER, REBEL, RACONTEUR ~ AND MOST OF THE TIME A MIDDLE-AGED DESK JOCKEY

Oh, the Places We See . . .

Honey, grab the GPS.

The Task at Hand

A Writer's On-Going Search for Just the Right Words

The Next Phase Blog

Social commentary and opinions: No guns, politics, or religion.

Breaking New Ground in Zone 6

The adventures of Southern gardeners starting over in New England

Marsha's Bungalow

the WW2 era chicken coop

iwalkalone.co.uk

the world one step at a time

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Susan's Musings

Whimsical Stuff from a Writer's Mind

Travels with Choppy

A dog and cat in clothing. Puns. Travel. Bacon. Not necessarily in that order.

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

A Sawyer's Daughter

The Life & Times of a Sawmill Man's Eldest Child

Formaggio Kitchen

Artisan cheese, charcuterie and specialty food.

Not Another Tall Blog

Not just another tall blog. Because being tall is NOT all we talk about! Follow me for tall talents, tall fashion, rock interviews and more!

On The Heath

where would-be writer works with words

The adventures of timbertwig in the forest of Burnley and the Rossendale Valley

crafts, permaculture, forest management, self employment, cycling

cheryl62blog

Time to change, live, encourage and reflect.

GARDEN OF EADY

Bring new life to your garden!

The Grey Enigma

Help is not coming. Neither is permisson. - https://twitter.com/Grey_Enigma

Ethereal Nature

The interface of the metaphysical, the physical, and the cultural

UP!::urban po'E.Tree(s)

by po'E.T. and the colors of pi

Kindness Blog

Kindness Images, Videos, True Life Stories, Quotes, Personal Reflections and Meditations.

Crazy Green Thumbs

Chronicling a delusional gardening experience.

New Hampsha' Bees

Raising bees holistically in New Hampshire

Dream, Play, Write!

Today, make a commitment to your writing.

Nicholas Andriani

Adventure Travel and Gastronomy, Passionately Explored

AM Simpson

Loves Final Kiss

Indie Hero

Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller

Therapeutic Misadventures

Daily musings on life after 60 & recreating oneself

valeriu dg barbu

©valeriu barbu

Writing Out Loud

A Place of Observation

cancer killing recipe

Just another WordPress.com site

Archon's Den

The Rants & Rambles of A Grumpy Old Dude

hoosiersunshine13

Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why. -Kurt Vonnegut

Once upon a time... I began to write

My journey in writing a novel

Not a Day Over 45

A View from Mid-Life

theflexifoodie.wordpress.com/

Delicious plant-based, whole food recipes & my healthy living tips!

Sharon Rawlette

Memoirist. Essayist. Philosopher.

Diane Tibert

~ writer - editor - publisher ~

Amintiri din Bucătărie

Memories from the Kitchen

White Shadows

Story of a white pearl that turned to ashes while waiting for a pheonix to be born inside her !

At Home in New Hampshire

Living and Writing in the North East

JOSELYN'S BRAWL

Two rare, life-threatening diseases that led to a bone marrow transplant and a snappy Buttkick List