I work at Golden Oaks Manor. Our residents come in all shapes and sizes, each one with their own personality and problems, but all are in the final transition between life and death – the twilight stage, if you will. There are a few, like Mrs. Graham, that have reconciled themselves to this part of their life. Listen as I enter her room to take her to breakfast:
“Mrs. Graham, it’s Janet. May I come in”?
“Oh, yes, Janet. Please do. Isn’t this a wonderful day?”
“Yes ma’am, it is. Don’t you look pretty in your pink outfit. Make sure all your buttons are fastened, or Mrs. Cooksey will try to take it off of you. Are you ready for breakfast?”
Mrs. Graham chuckles, and checks her buttons.
“I’m ready. Thank you so much for taking me. I’m going to enjoy those pancakes and bacon. It’s wonderful being at an age where the doctor doesn’t fuss about what I eat!”
Mrs. Graham is one of the few residents we staffers jockey for position to take care of, because many of the others are not easy to be with. Some, like Mr. Rush, are just plain resentful of this stage of their life so they take their anger out on everyone. I’m knocking on his door now.
“Mr. Rush, it’s Janet. May I come in?”
“I don’t know why you’re asking me that when you’re going to barge in here anyway. What do you want?”
“It’s time for breakfast. I came to see if you need help to get to the dining room.”
“Why should I want to go there. All we’ll have is slop and I’ll have to watch people drool and drop food out of their mouths. I don’t know why I have to be in this loony bin. If the doctor hadn’t botched my hip operation, I’d be out of here in a heartbeat. This place isn’t fit for a dog!”
See what I mean? I just consider the source and ignore his comments.
Alzheimer’s patients can be belligerent too, but some of them are a joy to be with. They don’t know anyone, they can’t remember where their room is, but their child-like personalities make them fun to be around. Take Mrs. Cooksey for example. When I open her door, she’s standing in the middle of the room trying to put her pants on over her head.
“Morning, Mrs. Cooksey. Ready for breakfast? We’re having pancakes.”
“I love pancakes! Could I have syrup and jelly and peanut butter on mine?”
“I’m sure you can, Mrs. Cooksey, but let me help you dress first. You need to put your feet in those pants, not your arms.”
“Thank you, sweetie. Have you seen my baby this morning?“
I locate Mrs. Cooksey’s baby doll under her bed and she cuddles it and talks to it as if it were a real baby – which to her, it is. Mrs. Cooksey has another quirk. She loves pink. Anything pink that’s not on someone or firmly attached to some object, ends up in her room. After I get her seated in the dining room, I’ll return all the things she has pilfered in the last twenty-four hours.
After settling all my mobile patients in the dining hall, and returning the pink stuff, I’m off to check on Mrs. Davis. Mrs. Davis has reached the final stage of her life. Everyone who has ever come into contact with Mrs. Davis knows that Jesus has been her Savior for a long time and when she leaves this life behind, she will be stepping into the eternal light of heaven. Two mornings ago, she didn’t wake up, and has been in a semi-coma since. Someone from her family has been with her round the clock, and hospice workers make sure that she is comfortable. Hearing soft singing coming from the room, I open the door quietly and let myself in.
“Good morning. I just came to check on Mrs. Davis. Any change?”
“Actually, there has been,” her daughter replied. “Mom is on the verge of leaving us. We’re singing some of her favorite hymns as she makes her way to the other side. Would you like to join us?”
“I would love to.”
Minutes later Mrs. Davis sighs, smiles, and draws her last breath. The twilight years are over, and the eternal years of light just beginning.
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