“Dana Evans to room 104 please,” The PA system reverberated throughout the nursing home.
Inside room 104, crying while sitting on her gray wing backed chair, was Vivian Haskell. She was a former nurse, and mother of two, with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Vivian’s blue gray hair was unruly, and her coral top didn’t seem to go well with the lime green striped pants. She held a blue tissue in her hand while dabbing at her eyes underneath her red framed glasses. She smiled immediately when she saw Dana entering the room, sitting up while extending her hand.
“Oh Dana, I am so sorry to bother you,” she sobbed and continued, “But I had to see you.”
“Vivian, you are not bothering me.” Dana took Vivian’s hand into hers and rubbed it gently.
“They did, did, did…did it- again.” She stammered, finding it difficult to speak normally. Her Parkinson’s disease had progressed fairly rapidly since her admission eight months earlier.
“What did they do Vivian?” Dana held Vivian’s gaze never taking her eyes from her, listening intently. She brushed back a lock of her hair, and repeated softly, “what did they do Vivian?”
“Those girls girls girls...they pull – pull- pulled me out of bed and put these…” Vivian pointed to her pants and top frustration apparent in her eyes and demeanor.
“Vivian, do you want to change your outfit and pick out something else? I will help you if you would like. I know you didn’t pick this top to go with your pants.” Dana smiled and touched Vivian’s face ever so gently… Vivian smiled back while nodding yes.
Every day Dana would be called to room 104. She was the only one Vivian wanted to speak to, and perhaps the only one who was willing to listen. Although the nurses were kind and caring, they couldn’t stay in one room for too long because of their patient load. And, the nurse’s aides were busy with a schedule-so they were always in a rush.
Vivian’s speech pattern was slow and awkward, becoming more pronounced when nervous. Her two sons never visited; in fact they were estranged from Vivian. It was so sad. She had a brilliant career as a director of nursing for over forty-five years. She was compassionate and caring and dedicated to all of her patients. It was sheer irony for Vivian to wind up in a nursing home.
Dana spoke to the nurse’s aides about being a little more patient, and if possible to leave Vivian as the last one on their list. They agreed and this helped for a little while. Vivian’s independence was gone, and she had no control over her life. In fact, food and clothing were the only things left that would allow her independence…and now that was being taken away from her as well.
Dana tried all kinds of things. She worked endlessly with compassion, and cohesively with the whole team. Dana suggested picking the clothing out the night before, so it would be easier for the aides in the morning. It did work for a long time, but sometimes like today, someone would slip up on the “recommendations” for Vivian. As a result, she was wearing an outfit she felt uncomfortable in.
“Oh Dana you are the only one who cares…” She kissed Dana’s hand.
For years Dana worked as her social worker, and counselor. When Dana left for another job, she always thought about Vivian. She really cared about her so much.
One day after three years, Dana visited Vivian. The aide warned her to be prepared, “She doesn’t recognize anyone anymore, and doesn’t speak. So don’t be insulted if she doesn’t look at you.”
Dana walked into room 104, and saw Vivian sitting on her bed, “Hello Vivian.”
“Dana!” She smiled wide and sat up in her bed.
“You remember me?” Dana asked with tears in her eyes.
“You were my Angel Dana- how could I ever forget you?”
They spoke for a long time. Dana held her hand finding it hard to leave her.
Dana kissed her goodbye, and Vivian whispered, “Goodbye my Angel, thank you.”
Vivian died in her sleep that night.
Note: This was based on a true story…The names were changed. Vivian was an amazing woman and during her lifetime, she was an "angel" to many of her patients. I will always remember our time together, and how she touched my life during my employment as her social worker. She was a woman of class, grace and beauty, and I will remember her forever-until we meet again one day.
"Your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly." Matthew 6:4
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