TITLE: "New Job" 7/11/18
By Claire Cottrell
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Mrs. Wright grabbed my hand. Startled, I looked down into her tear-swelled eyes.
“Did you hear?” she asked. “My Ralph is dead. I’m all alone.” Her shoulders shook and she moaned.
“Shut up!” Mrs. Luce in the next bed shrieked. “I’m sick of your crying! Your husband died a year ago!”
Mrs. Wright, still clinging to my hand, said, “Why does she say that?”
“Mrs. Luce, you can’t be telling your roommate to shut up,” I told her. “We need to respect one another. She has to cry it out.”
Mrs. Luce screwed up her face at me and scowled. “She keeps me awake all night either crying or screaming. I’m sick of her.”
Mrs. Wright glared at Mrs. Luce. “You’re mean as a snake!” she hissed.
Mrs. Luce threw her pillow at Mrs. Wright.
“None of that!” I warned Mrs. Luce. “You can’t do that here.” I handed Mrs. Luce her cup of pills. After she swallowed them, I asked calmly, “Mrs. Wright, who told you about Mr. Ralph?”
“I don’t know,” she wailed, then started moaning and crying again.
“Now why did you have to go and ask her that?” Mrs. Luce asked me.
“She was finally starting to quiet down. You nurses!” She shook her head disgustedly.
“Who told her?” I asked Mrs. Luce.
“Her daughter came and brought pictures and when she showed her the photo of him in the coffin and then the obituary….”
“Ahhhhh,” Mrs. Wright wailed.
I put my arms around Mrs. Wright. Poor woman!
Finally, I went down the hallway, pushing the medication cart.
Mr. Paul and Mrs. Pullan passed in the hallway, each in their wheelchair. Mrs. Pullan kicked at Mr. Paul. Charging up the hall, I grabbed her wheelchair, turned her around and wheeled her back toward her room.
Mrs. Pullan put her feet firmly on the floor. I stopped the wheelchair.
“Pick up your feet, Mrs. Pullan. I need to take you back to your room so you can take your meds.”
“Turn me around! I ain’t through with that dirty so and so!”
Mrs. Wolfe, also in her wheelchair, watched from her doorway near Mrs. Pullan’s room. She looked at me with a very worried look.
“I don’t think this job is for me,” she said seriously. “I don’t know what to do.”
“You’re doing wonderful,” I assured her. “We’ll all help you. Just keep watching the nurses.”
Mrs. Wolfe shook her head. “No, I don’t think so.”
She wheeled down the hall to Mrs. Luce and Mrs. Wright’s room.
“Get out!” Mrs. Luce shrieked from inside.
Mrs. Wolfe backed up and wheeled away down the hallway.
Mrs. Pullan suddenly propelled her wheelchair back toward Mr. Paul. I lurched to grab her wheelchair.
“Leave me alone! Let me knock his brains out!”
“They’ll put you in jail.”
“Jail can’t be no worse than this sorry place. And you’re the worst nurse I ever knew!”
“Maybe so, but I can’t let you hurt Mr. Paul. What did he ever do to you anyway?”
“I don’t like him, and that’s enough.” She lurched forward, nearly falling out of the wheelchair.
Brandi, the nurse assistant, came out of another resident’s room in time to see Mrs. Pullan’s near fall.
“What’s wrong with her?” she asked.
“She passed Mr. Paul in the hallway.”
“Oh, brother! I’ll take Mr. Paul the other way.”
Mrs. Wolfe wheeled up beside me.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “but I have to leave. This job is not for me.”
“I’m sorry, too, Mrs. Wolfe. I thought you were doing very well.”
Mrs. Wright wailed out again. Mrs. Wolfe turned her head toward the wail, then shook her head slowly.
“No, I can’t do this. I’m sure of it. I have to leave now and I won’t be back.”
She wheeled away.
An hour later, last medications given, I went to Mrs. Wright’s room.
Mrs. Wolfe was sitting in the bed with her, their arms wrapped around one another, both of them smiling and giggling like two little girls.
Mrs. Luce said, “Mrs. Wolfe started singing ‘What a Day That Will Be.’ Then they started talking about who they would see in heaven. Next, they were hugging and giggling. They’re both nuts.”
Mrs. Wolfe looked over Mrs. Luce’s head at me and smiled the beautiful smile I was used to, the one that lit up her entire face.
“I think I’ll try this job one more day,” she said. “How much does it pay?”
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