“The traffic was usual this morning but I still made it to work on time. The Packers won, so I don’t know why everyone’s driving recklessly.
But I’m here. There’s the new nurse. She looks nervous. I share with her all the information that she’ll need this day but how do you communicate 27 years of nursing. She probably thinks this is “her day,” being the new kid on the block. Boy, will she be surprised! Whose day is it then?
It’s their day. Who are they? They are these people who occupy room upon room on both sides of the hallways. I know all of their names. I even know some of their families. You may catch me on their ages but I’m positive that they are all over 80 years old. But that doesn’t matter to me. Age is just an artificial barrier, a number, that gets in our way. After all, what’s 30 or 40 years between friends?
Breakfast is first and I see that someone is already there. She’s the first one here every morning. She doesn’t need an alarm clock. The others CNA’s will slowly follow as they perform a tremendous and important job. I can hear the conversation now, “Helen, it’s time to get up, is everything all right?” Helen, half awake, smiles and says, “I know what time it is, just give me a minute.” And a minute she will have, or two or three.
Most of my day is filled with writing numbers. Numbers about all kinds of things, some very personal and some very professional. I understand the importance of these numbers but will never know its significance about who this or that person is. By “person” I mean the heritage, the history, the happiness/sadness’s, the successes and failures that occupy these 80+ bodies. The numbers that I write don’t reflect that. My conversations and smiles invite those stories. All those stories that I’ve heard for many years now. I’ve grown tired of them and yet can’t wait to hear them again.
Oh, here comes that son I met last year. I can’t remember his name but once he starts talking I may be able to place him. Ohhhh, that’s right. It’s him. I remember him now. California, twice a year visits and phones often for updates about his mom. I’ll get her chart once he gets settled.
Almost time to go home. Where did the time fly? Or did the time fly? I’ve had my full of ups and downs for another day. I’ve had my fill of the joy of this day and all that it contains. They all made a point of talking to me and wishing me will, wishing me the best that life offers. Wow. An 80+ group of people wishing me the best that life has to offer. Who else can offer a guarantee like that?
I forgot to tell you that today is my last day as an Alexian Village nurse after 27 years. I need to leave, but it’s not easy. I’ve been a part of something that is hard to describe. It is as if to say that all the numbers I’ve logged just don’t “add up” to the persons that I have encountered and nursed each day. But the numbers is not the amount. It is the amount of people – residents and families that I’ve had the privilege to walk with, to argue with, to laugh and smile with, and sometimes just to stand in the doorway as they hold their mom’s hand before death’s doorway. The number and its amount is the group of persons – their names and families that will endure in my heart and soul. I know that I’m a nurse but I often wondered, “who is nursing whom?”
I hope the traffic light this afternoon. It is time to drive home now.”
books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS, available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon:
“Living Faith’s Mysteries”
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings”
A Great Gift Idea
A new book by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
Available at Amazon.com
Paperback or Kindle is $14.95. Enjoyable reading.