It was hotter than blazes in the parking lot at Milford Genesis nursing home. I had come in several hours earlier with Cecilia as they moved her from her bed in 232b at Bayhealth Milford to her new home in Room 215 in Rehab at Genesis. Her mother had met us at the nursing home, carrying two new pairs of pajamas. She stopped by the side of the ambulance as they unloaded her daughter and then waited for me while I was unloading things from the minivan.
Cecilia was distraught. She had several episodes of shaking that resemble shivering. She will do this when she is upset or worried or in a situation that is unfamiliar. She had reached her hand towards me when I got into the hospital room earlier this morning, and grasped mine in hers like she was never going to let go. When I disengaged her hand and was getting ready to comb her hair, she began shaking like she was cold.
“Cecilia-girl, I’m here,” I said. “It’s going to be alright. We are going to get you to a place where we can get your legs stronger so you can walk again and come home.” As long as I stroked her arms and spoke soothingly to her, she wouldn’t shake. But if anyone came in or if I wasn’t fully engaged with her, she would start again. I wondered again about this girlie and what was going through her head. Did she think she was going to be abandoned again? Did she fear being stuck and prodded and misunderstood? How much did she understand about this move?
The transport came, and she was taken from the familiar bed and put onto a stretcher and taken the few miles to the nursing home. I drove over, and then Cecilia’s mother and I answered questions, talked to a lot of different staff, and waited. I fed Cecilia her lunch that came shortly after we got there, and when Cecilia Mom decided that she was going to go back to Newark around 3:00, I offered to bring her car around for her. She had parked in a side parking lot when she arrived because of being unfamiliar with the institution, and the walk was a long walk for someone her age. At first she demurred, but when I insisted, she handed me her keys and I went out to put some stuff in my car and to bring hers around.
Just before I pulled into the parking circle where there was a handicapped space for her, another quick red SUV whipped in ahead of me and took the spot. But I wasn’t too perturbed because there were two women getting into their car that was in the same row, and was even under a shade tree, and so I decided I would make the circle and wait for them. And so I did. I waited and waited. The sun got hotter and hotter. I couldn’t figure out the AC for Mrs. S’s car, but I thought it would not be much longer, and I waited and waited. The two ladies just sat there in that hot car. I waited some more. Someone came buzzing around me and took a spot farther down the row. That made me cross, too. Why didn’t I just go down there?
Finally, after it seemed like I was going to melt in that blistering hot car, I decided to see if those gals were going to leave or if they had other plans. I got out of the car and walked up to their open window. They were both busy on their phones, scrolling through stuff as casually as if it were their living rooms.
“Excuse me,” I said (with cheerful voice) “Are you ladies leaving?”
“Oh, yes, we are!” They chorused. “We’re so sorry. We really are!”
“If you’re not, that’s okay. It’s just that I brought this car up for an 88 year old lady and if I could have your parking spot, I would really appreciate it.”
“No problem,” they said. “Of course!”
I went back and got into my (or rather, Mrs. S’s) car, wondering why I hadn’t done that sooner. They put their car into reverse and backed out and I slid into the spot before anyone could steal it from me, and was most grateful. I locked Mrs. S’s car carefully and headed towards the nursing home. After the sweltering car, the breeze felt good and we were almost finished with the admission and (maybe) I could go home soon.
I walked down the sidewalk, feeling the weight of the day on my shoulders. It had been a tough day on several fronts. My crazy feet were not co-operating with me like I wanted them to. I came around the corner to head into the nursing home and caught my toe on the small discrepancy between the sidewalk and the one that was perpendicular to it.
“Oh, no!” I felt myself hurtling forward towards the ground at an alarming rate. Thankfully I remembered what happened when I let my face hit first, and I threw my left arm out to try to break my fall. Ker-thunk! Now I felt the weight of my day (Plus a lot more!) on my left elbow. I scrambled to my feet, looking frantically about to see if anyone saw me. Whew! No one in sight. I had kinda’ rolled over onto the mulch beside the sidewalk, and there were long black strands of sticks hanging onto my sweater and skirt. I hastily brushed them off and kept on walking, into the sanctuary of the front door of the nursing home and its cool, welcoming foyer. No one noticed as I made my way down the hall and into Cecilia’s room where Mrs. S waited. I’d been gone a long time for just moving her car up.
“Wow!” I said. “It’s really hot out there!”
“Isn’t it amazing,” she said in her cheery voice. “It was cold when I left Newark, but by the time I got here, it was really hot!” I was grateful that she didn’t ask why it took me so long. We made small talk and then as she was getting ready to go, I discovered that there were a whole lot more strands of mulch hanging from my person in diverse places.
“Oh, dear,” I said, as I tried to pull them off. “I must have missed these.”
The story came out, then, and one of the pleasant staff observed that there were even more that I had missed on my shoulder and the back part of my upper arm. She pulled them off for me, and finally I was cleared of all the evidence. I laughed about it and brushed it off as inconsequential because, in fact, it pretty much was. Finally, Mrs. S left, the last questions got answered and I could flee to my car and drive to the safety of my house and the quiet of my chair.
No one watched me as I searched for any abrasions or blood. (There was none.) No one saw me pull up my sweater sleeve in front of the bathroom mirror to see if I had somehow broken a bone in my forearm or elbow when I came crashing down. Nope. It just aches. As does my right foot.
Most importantly, no one knew when I checked this aching heart and found that I finally had time to sit and think and cry a bit. Some days are just hard, and even though I keep telling myself that this day could have been a whole lot harder, and even though I KNOW that I’m a woman blessed beyond measure. — This day was one more really hard day in a string of hard days, and I’m good and ready for some normalcy.
I came home to fresh chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen counter. The dishwasher had been loaded and was clean, and after a while, Nettie came home and was pleasant. Certain Man is on his way home and he averted the accident on Route One by taking another way home. There are happy secrets to be told very soon, and there are highly anticipated visitors coming and family reunions and picnics and all sorts of wonderful things to look forward to. The driveway monitor just notified me that Certain Man is home and it’s time to catch up on his day and enjoy the evening.
Blessed??? You bet’cha!
My heart gives grateful praise.