Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: HEALTH (10/13/16)
- TITLE: A Very Special Place
By Lois Farrow
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“I don’t want to work in that place,” I protested. “It’s a place where old people go to die. I don’t want to spend my weekends with dying old people.”
Mum just smiled. “It’s a place where old people go to live,” she said. “You will be surprised how lovely it is. And besides, you need the money and the experience.”
I couldn’t argue with the money bit, but I didn’t see any need for experience. In my last year at college I thought I already knew everything I needed to know.
“It’s tradition at Aroha,” Mum continued. Aroha means love. “They always use the College students to take the weekend breakfast trays to all the residents and help clean up afterwards. Mrs. Somers prepares the trays and shows you what to do. Quite a few past students have gone on to nursing, and they say that working at Aroha gave them inspiration.”
Well, I didn’t want inspiration, and I certainly didn’t want to do nursing, but I did want the money. Where else would I find a part time job in our small town? I worked Saturday and Sunday mornings for the rest of that year and to my surprise I loved it.
The biggest surprise was the residents. They were beautiful. While I was there, there were two old men and twelve ladies, and they were lovely. They were so grateful to have their breakfast trays delivered to their rooms, and so nice to me. Mrs. Smith was always asking me how my studies were going, what I enjoyed most, how my basketball team was doing. I had to do my best at school during the week so I could sound impressive when I reported at the weekend.
I freaked when one old man asked me to bring him his teeth! In the glass beside his bed those teeth were smiling their gummy smile at me. I didn’t want to look. But I handed him the glass and he did the rest – just as well I didn’t have to touch them. I learnt what each person needed, and they were so kind.
Mrs Somers was wonderful too, and so encouraging. I could see why everyone loved her. She used to be a midwife in this very building. Often my mum had told me how she was born there, also my aunties and uncle, and heaps of other people we know.
Mrs. Somers hadn’t intended to run a retirement home, she told me. It just happened. She had been taking a few old folks into her own home so they didn’t have to move away from family to rest homes in the nearest city when they could no longer cope at home. When she got this building, suddenly she was able to take twenty residents which took her by surprise. With inspiration from God and help from the community she created a beautiful place which still operates today.
That was a long time ago, and my life changed after that.
Mrs. Somers gave me some good advice. “You’ve got great capacity to care for people, Julie,” she said. “You should be a nurse, or a doctor if you want. The people love your manner and your cheerful way of just seeing what is needed. Think about it.”
Well, I did think about it. I trained as a nurse and loved it. I work at a city hospital now, but still go back and visit. I was even able to work there for a few months when my Gran became a resident. That was a wonderful time. Gran thinks it is so funny being back where she had her babies.
I was just one of many staff who passed through Aroha, and I know we were all impacted for good in different ways. Many residents have come and gone too. But I no longer see it as a place where people go to die. It is a vibrant place of life, not death; of health, not illness. God has guided Mrs. Somers and given her a spirit of grace and compassion as she has cared for those being born, and now loves and cares for those who die. I know that God is there, in that very special place.
All names changed.
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