Monday, November 1, 2010

Golden Living

For the past few months, I've been going to the Golden Living Center and working in the Beauty Shop there. At first I was apprehensive as to how well I would do there and whether or not I would enjoy it, but I quickly fell head over heels in love with the charming residents there. They are all such characters and have such a wealth of wisdom and life experiences to share.

A. MILLIE: Millie is such an imp. She had a little run-in with a case of head lice, and decided she had earned the right to shave her head. I was worried she had been coerced into doing it against her wishes, but she said "I've been doing my hair for 90 years. This is the easiest style I've ever had!" I've shaved it for her twice since and she plans to keep it that way. Every time she sees me she says "I love you. You know that?" Yes Millie, I do.

B. FAYE: Faye is such an example to me of finding the good in life. She is almost blind, and a few months back she had cancer removed from the tip of her nose. They replaced the skin on her nose with a piece from her scalp, so every morning she gets to shave the tip of her nose since it grows hair. :) She listens to audio books since she can't see, and her daughter comes to see her almost every day (another great example to me.) Faye parks her wheelchair across the hallway from her room to force herself to use her walker to get from her bed to her wheelchair--she is bound and determined to stay somewhat mobile.

C. DOROTHY: Dorothy moved in about the same time I started, and she is a little spit fire. She has been telling me a huge saga about how she is engaged to a man who's wife has a fatal illness, and they are waiting for the wife to die. Come to find out, the man is an employee at the Center, his wife is not dying, and my cute Dorothy is suffering from a little dementia. It breaks my heart every time I hear her talk about it.

D: LAPREAL: LaPreal is my little giggle and gossip buddy. She has very advanced Alzheimer's, and we have the same conversations every week. But I can tell you this: She loves her son, She loves California where she is from, and she was honest when she worked at a diner and because of that, when the owner passed away, she left it to LaPreal instead of the owner's nephew or sister. LaPreal always wants to hear about my dates and the boys in my life. :)

E: MELVIN & ILENE: aka Shrek and Ilene. Look again--it fits him. These two are a bit rough around the edges, but they are fiercely loyal. Ilene suffers from Bi-Polar Disorder, and some days are better than others. On the good days, she loves me. We won't talk about the bad days. Shrek gets in fights with half the other residents because he is so dang confrontational, but once you're in his good graces, you're in. They met at GLC and got married there.

F: LORETTA & JIM: Loretta and Jim also met and fell in love at Golden Living. Sweet Loretta had never been married, and at the age of 88 she met Jim. Yesterday I was walking past the love seat where they are always sitting (She usually doing word searches, him sleeping), and heard him say to her "Do you have any idea how much I love you?" and she just whispered "I know, I love you too."

G: MILES: Cute cute Miles. I had an affinity with him from the beginning because of his name. He reminded me of my energizer bunny nephew, Miles. He was always going and had a witty remark every time I saw him. He is 100% there mentally, but his health is now declining quickly, and he won't be with us much longer. But even as he is fading, he is always out and about, pushing himself along the halls with his feet, happy and cheerful as ever. Last week he even got a flu shot. :)

H: REGGIE: Reggie was one of the first that I met. He asked me if I had read the Book of Mormon. He comes and visits me every day that I work, and just stands in the door and watches. I'd love to know his whole story. I think he is a great, great man, trapped in an old body and mind.

I: PETER: Peter is like the Hare in the Tortoise and Hare story. You can hear him walking down the hall from a LONG way away. He has the most distinct footsteps. I've only cut his hair once, but every day he takes a few difficult steps out of his way to poke his head in the door and say hi. On good days he smiles and calls out "HELLOOOO!" and on bad days he pokes his head in and grunts, but he never walks past without saying something.

J: ZIGGY: Ziggy is my guardian angel. Also very advanced Alzheimer's, he asks me every day if he needs a haircut. He sits in the chair outside my beauty shop and tells me I'm working too hard and that I need to come sit by him. When I walk past his "post" in the hall, he'll always stop me for a hand squeeze or a hug. If I am running past and don't stop he'll say "There she goes, always runnin..." just to no one in particular. At the end of the day he sees me off and then goes to his room.

Like I said, I have fallen in love with these people. They truly have lived long hard lives, and have earned every grey hair and every wrinkle. Some have families, some are alone, but each of them have so much to offer. These are only a few of the people I get to associate with there, and I could write similar things about all of them. There's Shirley with her little dog Brandy, or June who collects soda cans for Sub for Santa, or Morris who I play Rummy with. There's Faun who lets me set her hair but not cut it, and Dave who brings me drinks just because. Rex is a Jazz fan, Felix likes to go to Dee's, and Mary Jane hates all her daughter-in-laws. Keith quits smoking every day, and Bob, who passed away a couple weeks ago, called me Billy Joel. Rudy is a bully, but Lucy has a crush on him. And don't forget Bob, who after proposing, told me all his wives but the last died from rat poison. That one died from a hit to the head. "She should have taken her rat poison," he joked. Recently someone told me to quit there, that there isn't money there. All I could say was "I don't work there for the money, I do it for my sanity." They have taught me that we are truly happier when we are serving others and making people happy. I've never been called Honey, Sweetie, or Darlin so often, I've never been proposed to or complimented by so many men, or been so bold in my attempts to make people smile. I am so excited to start my new job, but this is the sacrifice. I'm sad to leave the other salon where I've been working, but to leave here is heartbreaking. In only 4 months my life has been touched and changed for good.


Chelsea said...

Wow, you weren't kidding about a LONG post... :) But, seriously, this made me cry. Really??? Yes. I guess just because it is really sweet. And I am a little scared of older people, and you could always tell that you just loved them.

Amber said...

you're the best! i'm sure you mean as much to them as they do to you!

Dimond Blogger said...

What a neat experience! Thanks for sharing, it makes me want to get out and serve!

Jennilyn and Chad said...

T you are quite the little blogger. I'm trying to catch up (since it has been FOREVER since I've blogged) and you are way on top of it! I'm loving all of the updates. I love all of the cute pics!

mcbingham said...

Girl- You are one amazing story teller and writer! I loved reading this post because I could picture every second of it from your descriptions. You are seriously such a great example to me in so many ways! They were so lucky to have you for a bit! :)