Lena was one of the long term care residents. Her diagnosis when first admitted was "mental retardation, hypertension, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. However, her primary diagnosis was mental retardation.
She was a pleasant individual that loved following me around, and my best friend Barbara. She'd come into our office during breaks and sit with us.
She had the most incredible laugh. It was a genuine raw sound emanating deep within her lovely soul, it was great to hear and see.
One of her favorite things to do was massage our shoulders, and took great pride in how wonderful a "masseuse" she was. Honestly, she was better than a professional therapist.
As the Director of the facility I interacted with the interdisciplinary team all day long. However, the greatest part of the job was being with the residents. It was a little piece of heaven mingling with what I considered precious jewels all day.
A day that stands out in my mind was when the CEO walked into my office unannounced. She was new, and wanted to make an impression—more like footprints on my back—with the owners, and truly was obnoxious in her demands. She was tall, thin, and blonde. She favored dark shades of lipstick, and her fingernails were long and painted black. It sort of reflected her personality.
Well, this particular day we were taking lunch in my office. Lena, of course joined us, and was rubbing my shoulders when "Carol" barged into my office.
"I need to have the census figures and the budget report immediately." She took a second to catch her breath before continuing, "I need to know why Mr. Johnson hasn't paid his bill in over a month, and why you've extended his stay without consulting me. I also—"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Can this wait? What you're requesting all falls within the rights of confidentiality. I don't discuss that with residents." I smiled at Lena and winked. "Nor with employees who aren't part of the administration team."
"Well, whatever. I'll wait."
"Boy your dress is tight!" Lena said, as she touched the dress.
Carol appeared nonplussed, shifted in her seat, and pushed Lena's hand away.
"Why so tight?" Lena continued, really curious and wanting to know.
"It's the style that's all! Don't you have something else to do right now?" She snapped.
"She's taking a break with us,” I offered in the most Christian like response I could muster. But, truth be told, I wanted to give an entirely different answer.
"Why is she always in here when I visit?" Her cell phone rang, "Yes, I'm here now. No, haven't gotten anything yet. She's eating lunch, and there are a load of people in the office. One of them is a resident who stands around rubbing shoulders. Can you imagine that?"
She continued with her phone call while Barb and I finished our lunch, which was hard to digest due to the impromptu "visit." She closed her cell and looked directly at me, "You need to get a little more control, free up your time, and disengage from this resident." She’d spoke as if Lena wasn't in the room.
"I don’t take orders from you Carol. I take them directly from the owners, as I have for the past ten years."
"You need to stop having residents rub your shoulders. It just isn't professional!”
"It’s just Lena who volunteers to do it. Besides, we enjoy having her sit with us. She’s always welcome in my office and Barbara’s."
"Still, it's not right to have someone rubbing your shoulders..."
"But you do it," Lena said loudly. "I see you all the time. I see you and Mr. Bryan all the time. You always rubbing his shoulders. I wonder if Mrs. Bryan rubbing his shoulders too. She’s nice Mrs. Bryan I like her." She smiled innocently not realizing the impact of her words.
Barbara and I stood silent as we watched this little sweet tiny "mentally challenged" beautiful kind soul take down a corporate giant in one second flat. Words are a two edged sword, they cut both ways. She definitely had help with this for sure.
"I'll speak with you later,” she offered, before she charged out the door.
Needless to say, I never heard a peep out of her again pertaining to Lena, and her impromptu visits ceased to exist.
***Based on a true story. Some names have been changed. The CEO was fired about five months later. Lena and Barbara died within months from each other about four years later, leaving a huge gap in the nursing home that will never be filled again. This story and so many memories, I hold in my heart and will cherish forever...
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