“She didn’t come to supper yesterday!” The litany of comments hit me from all sides as I entered the dining room.
I had gone to San Antonio over the weekend to do a presentation for the Battle of Medina gathering. I go every year and this was no exception. But, I had left Mom alone overnight and the residents had been watching.
(Just in case you are wondering, and it’s okay if you don’t, the Battle was fought August 18, 1813 as the first attempt by Mexican Texans and a handful of filibustering Anglos to become a Republic. They even had a Constitution, a Declaration of Independence and a Green Flag. These Liberal rebels got stomped to a bloody pulp by the Conservative Royalist General Joaquin de Arredondo. The first independent Texas was crushed, and Texas remained a part of Mexico for the next 23 years).
Thank goodness I was only gone overnight.
“Your Mom left her door open 3 inches yesterday. I closed it for her.” Effusive thanks. (Why should the resident care?)
“Your Mom shouldn’t wear a skirt to exercise.” Ok, sorry. (It’s not like anyone is watching.)
“Your Mom snuck out of the dining room without eating after you brought her in for breakfast.” Oh, dear! I’m so sorry. (So what? She won’t starve by missing one meal.)
“Your Mom didn’t come to Bunko today.” So sorry. (Like Mom cares?)
“Your Mom missed painting class yesterday.” So, so sorry. (It’s not like she misses it)
“Your Mom headed down the hallway the wrong way after lunch. We headed her in the right direction.” Thank you so very much. (She probably would have found her way back eventually).
“Your Mom was sitting up by the front desk reading and nearly missed dinner.” Thank you for telling me. (At least she has company up there).
The one I really didn’t want to hear—“Your Mom messed in the storage closet for the kitchen dry goods. We had to bring in Rainbow International to clean it up.” That one was mortifying.
“Your Mom is lucky to have you come care for her so often. Lady M doesn’t have anyone to come and check on her.” (Do I detect a note of reprimand?)
“Your Mom is really doing well.” At last. Thanks. (I smile my grateful appreciation.)
It’s not that they don’t have anything better to do than watch over each other. Actually, they don’t. Three times a day, they sit perched on the elegant, uncomfortable couches outside the dining room waiting for the clock on the wall above them to tick down to meal time. For the ones who are cognizant, there isn’t anything better to do than to notice what is happening and gossip about the ones who aren’t there.
Some of the residents are really being kind and helpful. They do watch out for each other in the Independent Living Section. The “with-it” ones do, anyway. All of the residents live alone or with a spouse in a one- or two-room apartment. Since there are no nurses on duty, the residents depend on each other. The ones with some brain power left help with menus or heading in the right direction. Lady D, still young(er) and vibrant, is always officious and helpful. And the first to report events to me when I return.
Some of the others are just busybodies. They seem to enjoy telling tales on the rest, especially Mom since I am there to listen. Perhaps I’m wrong, but It seems to me that they report the problems with considerable glee.
Of course, for the major episodes, there is, thank goodness, the staff. That was the point of putting Mom here. If Mom falls or needs help, her alarm goes off automatically and the staff responds immediately. The residents can also push the alarm button they wear around their necks. The staff will come running.
Mom was feeling lonely the other day and wanted me to come, so, she pushed her button. They came hot-footing to find out there was nothing wrong. Fortunately, I was just arriving as well. She’d better be careful. That’s like crying “Wolf” too many times. I wonder if they ever just quit coming? No, probably not.
But when the staff doesn’t step in, there is always Lady D.