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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Employment (01/26/12)

TITLE: A Mutual Friendship
By C D Swanson


“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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This article has been read 524 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Hiram Claudio02/02/12
Such a great story and even more so that it is true. This really was a special relationship that I'm sure has stayed with you over the years. A wonderful example of the topic where "employment" was something deeper than a "job." Very well done!
Leola Ogle 02/02/12
This really touched me since my own mother is in a care facility. Thanks for sharing and caring. God bless!
Mary Toll02/03/12
Like the solid foundational structure and tightly written words, this tender experience doesn't skip a beat. I adored how a devoted Dana, like Jesus, answered urgent calls and supervised the smallest of details that concerned her friend Vivian.

The picture of their bonding by touuch was insightful. In a world where your limited by four walls, deserted by your own family, fading health and independence, the extension of ones hands are 'gripping'.

Compassionately composed, shed many applausing tears.
Linda Goergen02/03/12
What a beautiful, touching, heart-felt story. Thank God for the “earth angels” like you, who take the time to realize how hard losing independence is for nursing home residents and tries to understand why some residents seem difficult. As Hirum said, to those like you, it is more than a job—it is a gift of compassionate wisdom, it is shinning the light and love of Jesus to those so much of the world just want to lock away and forget! God Bless You. Thank you for a wonderful read!
annie keys02/05/12
A very touching life story. A great testament; a memorial of a life well lived. I'm so sorry for your loss--and delight in that you will see her again one day.
Joni LeRette-Flores02/05/12
A very touching story. Kindness remembered - transcending the boundaries of disease. One never really knows how acts of caring can touch another and carry through for a lifetime. Taking the time to care does make a difference. Thank you for the lesson and the inspiration!
marcella franseen02/06/12
A truly beautiful story, made so much more by the fact that it is true. Well written and well told. In showing kindness to those dependent on our care we give them value and God honor!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/08/12
This really touched my heart. I too have the rare ability of seeing both sides of the bed as a chronic patient and as a former RN. It doesn't take that much extra time or energy to be nice to patients. You have blessed many hearts as I'm sure Vivian did as well.
Beth LaBuff 02/09/12
Your story is so poignant and filled with beauty, reminding me of the verse, "whatever you do for one of the least of these." This is so very good!