Sunday, December 28, 2008

Erika's World and Erika's "friends"

click on photo to enlarge and see Erika and Erika's friends (and family)
Okay, I have decided I just do not want to get VERY VERY OLD. Unless, of course I can retain my full faculties, and then that's fine, I do. But without them it is just too too sad.
Today was day 3 in Erika's World and I did my best to stay upbeat and present, in the NOW, for as long as I could maintain that I was able to focus on Erika in her NOW and add I think to her happiness. She played the piano today for about 40 minutes!!! It's amazing how her brain has remembered MUSIC and how to read it and play with two hands! Others living there enjoyed hearing it too. She repeatedly told me the years of Hayden's birth and death and the year the piece she was playing was composed. If it's ever on a test...
I wish oh I wish I could draw people the way Andrea captures them in her "metro heads" with pen, ink, and water colors. But since I cannot I want to share in words what I saw today.
I will make up names and lives as I saw them, as I do not know their true names anyway.
But there is Lissy who is about 5' tall, just a tad humped over, not much, doesn't speak, but mumbles quietly, and has inquisitive, expressive eyes. She walks the halls in her stocking feet, for the entire time we were there (hours!!!!)...sometimes she followed us and once followed us into Erika's room when we were returning from one of our walks. I had to gently turn her around and guide her back into the hall, like a little ball caught up in the wrong corner of its maze. And start her on her rounds again.
There was Walter in his wheel chair hooked up to an oxygen tank...sleeping...then dreaming out loud...a nurse/attendant comes by and spoons ice cream into his open mouth, he wakes and swallows this, takes another bite...attendant leaves and Walter now awake looks around curiously, then dozes off again having enjoyed perhaps that bit of sweetness. A tall woman, Pat, with white hair up in a high pony tail in black ribbon, clutching a shawl in the crook of one arm and a book too, walks next to her friend, Frieda, a bit shorter, grey curly hair only slightly unkempt, both walking the hallway together...I can almost makeout their brown and white saddle shoes...I see them in high school talking about boyfriends...going from class to class...wondering how they suddenly got so old... A cluster of three women and one man sitting at a square table. The woman angrily pounds three fat colored marking pens down on the table that an attendant has given her, makes some marks on the paper...pounds the pen down again still looking angry. The man is surveying the room, he one of very few males present amongst all those women. He gets up and walks to his room across the hall passing the piano we are sitting around. Later he comes out having put a white with black stripes, short sleeved shirt on over his long sleeved black shirt and is now I assume ready for dinner. He has dressed up for his lady friends. An attendant comes around passing out bibs for the dinner parties at the many tables. One woman is seen putting her bib on top of her head. She doesn't want to be seen. One woman is digging in her purse, holding it up for her table mate to see that it is quite empty! Janice is walking down the hall in her stocking feet asking if we have seen her shoes. She has lost them. Terry is walking down the hall wearing shoes that are obviously too big for her. We wonder if they belong to Janice. Erika continues to play piano, telling me she learned when she was four years old. She knows the history of all the composers. She knows in what part of Europe they lived and tells me about borders of Switzerland, Italy and Germany. I am getting an education. It's now time for Erika to eat dinner herself. We wheel her to her table. She sits with three others. She asks where we are going. She wants to come with us. She is not comfortable hearing we will be back tomorrow. She becomes very distressed, says she won't know how to find her room. We reassure her that Debbie, the attendant will help her. Debbie assures Erika she will. Erika relaxes some and we depart. Getting old is not for sissies. I finally know what that means.


  1. Oh, thank you so much for sharing this account of your visit with Erika. It reminds me of the visits I made to my grandfather and to my friend Miss Olive when they went in nursing homes. Those visits were much like the one you describe here.

  2. Your word portraits are quite vivid. So lovely of you to spend so much time with Erika and how wonderful about the playing and enjoyment of music.

  3. This brought back many memories of my mother in this situation. I don't want to get old either.

    I am back in AZ and the weather is not that much warmer than AZ.

  4. It reminds me of when my mother got old too...she did spend some time in a nursing home to recoup from a fall and a broken leg...but when she healed she came to live with us and did for a year and several months before she finally died. That was not an easy time for any of us...but if possible better than being institutionalized. Sometimes it is not possible when the person needs more 1 on 1 care... Oy...

    DH and DNephew took Erika "to go see Christmas lights" as the way to get her out of the house and on the way to take her back to her "home" again tonight. Earlier she came here to my SIL's home and she enjoyed watching The Sound of Music on TV...eating dinner with us, cake and coffee for dessert, admiring my knitting, being with her son, etc. a nice several hours together.

  5. Yep, I am checking out early!
    i used to volunteer in an old age home - one gets very wise very quickly.

  6. Yes growing old isnt for sissys.
    I am happy my Aunt and Uncle can live on their own but it also scares them thinking about if and when they will need more help. Their son they adopted doesnt care one bit about them and lives back east. I am the only one who keeps in constant contact. So even that isnt a sure thing being able to live on their own. They have been together over sixty years. That scares my Aunt because she wonders if she can make it if my Uncle goes first. Its a no win situation no matter how you look at old age. But it was so good you could take your mom in even tho it was hard on you.
    Busy with company and having fun but had to come check out your blog and see how your visit was going. My company goes back to her sister, before flying home, who lives in an assisted living place too.

  7. Judy, I hope not anytime soon...Oy.
    I guess I'll wait and let what ever happens happen and just hope for the just never know when one might have another good momemt to enjoy!

    Cris, my aunt and uncle are in same place as yours with the exception of a huge loving family who watches over them closely. That can make a huge difference.
    Being alone is the scariest part I think. I cultivate friends just in case... ;-)

  8. oh lynn, what a sad piece, but true, i don't think i will ever get old as there just isn't longevity in my family, maybe that's for the best. hugs and see an award for you on my blog.


Thanks for leaving your comments as I love hearing from you. Your words of encouragement are why I continue to draw!