Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: REMEMBER (10/19/17)
- TITLE: The Wrong Sarah
By Yvonne Blake
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Grams passed on, and I grew up to study nursing. I could have gone into various areas of nursing, but I wanted to work with the forgotten grandparents of our society. My friends had warned me about working at the nursing home. They told me I’d be asked the same silly questions over and over again. Doors were locked with a code because the residents would try to go home – usually their childhood home. They said it was much like taking care of full-sized toddlers – complete with diapers and favorite teddy bears. I had done well in my geriatrics studies in nursing school, but I knew that book knowledge was never anything like experience.
My heart fluttered with excitement as I dressed for my first day of work at the Harmony Nursing Facility. I had picked out a cute scrubs outfit – pale blue pants and a top sprinkled with hearts and pink flowers. I pinned on my nametag, SARAH JUDSON R.N., and pulled my hair back into a convenient ponytail. I hoped to cheer up some special granny today.
There were twelve residents in my wing. Even in the first few hours, I could read their various temperaments and characteristics. Paul was a flirt – I’d have to watch out for him. Margaret was picky about her food. Stella chattered about her family. Norman wore thick glasses and read everything out loud. Dorothy wanted to bake me some cookies.
Adeline Woodrow, our oldest resident, had a private room across from the nurses’ station. When the head nurse introduced me, Adeline’s eyes widened as she grabbed both of my arms and pulled me close. “Are you Sarah?”
“I am Sarah. How did you know my name?”
The head nurse shook her head. “She asks everyone that. She’s ninety-eight years old. She can’t remember what she had for breakfast.”
“Who is Sarah?”
“It says on her charts that Sarah was her twin sister.”
“Yeah, there are a lot of sad stories around here, but you can’t let them get you down.”
Over the next few weeks, Adeline drew me into her life. Every day, she’d greet me, “Sarah!” She would often lean close and say something like, “Remember when Tabby had kittens on our bed?” or “Remember when our tree got struck by lightning?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t remember.”
Then she would look at me with a puzzled expression which would fade away with a sigh. Her eyes and her shoulders would droop. “You’re the wrong Sarah.”
I found a photo of her when she was young, and I could see how my features reminded her of her sister. I also discovered that she had outlived her whole family – her parents, her siblings (her twin sister and a younger brother), two husbands, and three children. Occasionally, her grandchildren and great grandchildren came to pay their respects to her on her birthday or Christmas, but it wasn’t enough.
One day especially broke my heart. “Sarah, remember when Billy was born . . . and Mama died?”
I pretended to remember to ease her pain. “Yes, that was a sad day.”
But as soon as she heard my voice, she turned her face away from me.
I patted her shoulder. “I know. I‘m the wrong Sarah.”
After a short vacation, I returned to work, anxious to see my patients. Checking my charts, before starting my rounds, I could hear Adeline talking cheerfully in her room. I turned to my co-worker. “Does Adeline have a visitor?”
“You’ll see,” she said with a smile.
I peeked around the door to find Adeline chatting to an empty armchair. “Remember when we hid in the attic when Mama wanted us to clean the chicken house?” She paused and laughed. “Oh yes, I forgot that. You were such a scaredy-cat.”
Adeline had finally found the right Sarah.
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