Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HOME (02/07/19)
- TITLE: A Temporary Place for Michael
By Sandra Fischer
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â€œI know.â€ She patted his head. â€œItâ€™s hard to let him go.â€ She swallowed hard.
She helped Michael into the car and fastened his belt. As she backed out of the driveway with him this one last time, she prayed. â€œOh, Lord, may this be the right decision for him. For me.â€
After they arrived at the group home, Miss Violet greeted them and ushered them to his room.
â€œDo you like your room?â€ Esther smoothed out the new comforter on his bed.
Michael nodded. He shuffled to the window, pushed back the curtain. He squinted and stared.
â€œNo oneâ€™s there, Michael. Look, I brought you a miniature Shaggy to keep you company.â€
He took the stuffed animal and laid it on the bed.
â€œDo you like the wall hanging? It has all your tee-shirts from your races. Remember this one, the Raleigh marathon?â€
Michael touched the hanging and pointed to the shirt with the photo of his mother on it, the one heâ€™d worn in the 5K race for cancer research.
â€œIs that your favorite?â€
Michael struggled to form the answer and managed a â€œYesâ€, one of the few words he could still speak.
â€œGetting settled, okay?â€ Miss Violet breezed into the room.
â€œI think so.â€ Esther looked at Michael, who simply stared.
Michael held his hand out to Miss Violet and she took it. He smiled and gave her a hug.
â€œYouâ€™ll like it here, Michael. Weâ€™re going to make you feel right at home. Weâ€™re a family and youâ€™re part of it.â€
Esther turned away and busied herself with rearranging the family pictures on the dresser. â€œDear God, help him to understand why heâ€™s here. Help us to accept this.â€
Miss Violet took Michaelâ€™s hand. â€œLetâ€™s go visit with the other residents.â€ Esther wiped her eyes and followed.
â€œDo you remember meeting Charles? He loves to play checkers.â€
Charles eyed Michael. â€œWhy doesnâ€™t he talk?â€
Esther intervened. â€œHe can say a few words, but he mostly likes to shake hands and hug.â€
Maggie pushed her walker up toward Michael. â€œDonâ€™t mind Charles. Heâ€™s never happy. Nobody is who comes here at first, but we get along as best we can. Miss Violet and the others take good care of us. If you donâ€™t want to talk, you donâ€™t have to.â€
Michael moved around her walker and put his arm around her.
Miss Violet moved him toward a woman in a wheel chair. â€œThis is Shelby and Miss Mabel.â€
Shelbyâ€™s eyes were fixed at something on the wall. She made a moaning sound and twisted her head. Miss Mabel, her daily companion, held out her hand.
â€œMiss Shelby says â€˜hello, Michael, and welcomeâ€™â€™. She lifted Miss Shelbyâ€™s hand to wave.
â€œAnd this is Jerome. He likes watching the birds.â€ Miss Violet pointed to the feeder outside the deck window.
â€œHowdy,â€ Jerome offered a trembling hand. â€œSorry for the shake, palsyâ€™s got me.â€ Michael took Jeromeâ€™s hand, then pointed at the feeder. His lips formed a â€œBâ€, but only a puff of air came out.
â€œHe likes the birds. He had feeders at ho. . .â€ Esther stopped mid-word.
â€œBirds are like people. They come, eat and fly away.â€ Jerome waved his shaky hand in the air.
â€œThatâ€™s what weâ€™ll be doing, tooâ€”flying away. This is just a temporary place, you know. Our families brought us here from a place we called home, but our real home is heaven. It donâ€™t matter what place you call home on earth.â€
Michael pointed toward the ceiling and opened his mouth, but the word â€œheavenâ€ came from Estherâ€™s. â€œYesâ€, she thought. â€œ You told me weâ€™d be there together someday.â€
He put his arm around her. She buried her face into his chest, blotting the tears on his shirt.
Later, after she had settled Michael in his room, Miss Violet walked her to the door.
â€œHeâ€™ll be fine here. Dementia and aphasia caregiving is what we do. Just go home and rest. First nights are harder on family than on the resident. Weâ€™ll talk in the morning.â€
Esther turned the words over and over as she drove back to the house. â€œJust go home. . .home would never be the same for her, for Michael. And, rest? God promised rest. Someday.â€
She gripped the steering wheel hard.
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