Monday, December 16, 2013

New Kind of Slice of Life

         The Tuesday Slice of Life is hosted by the Two Writing Teachers blog.  Go there to visit the other"slicers"!  Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, and Elisabeth for all the marvelous posts they share!



               "Friendship Doubles Our Joy And Divides Our Sorrows"

        I’ve started a new slice in my life, sort of, by volunteering at the nursing home where my husband lived for 18 months.  I’ll be able to help with those patients I grew to like so much, and to meet new ones.  I’ve been back more than once since Arvie's passing, and have discovered I miss the connections I made there. 
        When I first began this journey with my husband, I wanted to get to know those who would be caring for him.  I spent time sharing with the staff about him, about myself, and about my family.  My own family and a few friends visited.  Slowly we all began to know each other, about our family and about theirs too.  I knew who had children, who was not married, who had grandchildren. I discovered who visited their mother, sister, friend, brother, father.  We were unique, but all connected because of the diagnosis of dementia in its diverse forms.  It became nearly as good a visit with others who lived there as it was with my husband. 


         And so, I have returned.  I miss the loving people who live there, I miss the loving and caring staff, and I am glad to help when I can, do what I can.  For a while, I’m going to be helping serve the drinks and plates at lunch.  Being an extra “hand” helping the staff gives them time to do other things that I cannot do, like feed a patient, or bring back a patient who has returned to their room.  There are lots of ups and downs at lunch, but smiles when I offer coffee, juice and milk, happy faces when they receive their plates of food are worth it all.  I know nearly all the people, and I met a few new ones when I started volunteering.  They are all different, some want me to help, some do not.  Today I realized I knew a bit more about the unique personalities of the new patients. 

        Does this sound familiar?  Isn’t this just what teachers do with a new class?  Through all the experiences we have with our students, we begin to know them, the likes and dislikes, the strengths and weaknesses.  We begin to peel away the layers. In January, I’ll begin sharing some picture books and poems in activity meetings.   Perhaps we’ll sing some songs.  By then I’ll know more about what some of the patients might enjoy.  In the meantime, I’ll have fun just having my slice with them each week.

        I’m planning to take next week off from posting so I can spend more time with my family; the Texans are arriving Friday and of course the others are here.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and a precious beginning to the 2014. Below--two of my antique postcards!
My wishes for you all!

Sweet place to imagine being, isn't it? Tell a story?

48 comments:

  1. I love that you are volunteering among the people who helped your late husband, and that you're ready to get to know them as individuals. I look forward to the slices in the new year that might focus on one interaction with just one individual that unfolds into one mighty insight. Thank you for sharing, and merry Christmas!

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    1. Thank you. Certainly I look forward to enjoying my time there.

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  2. Linda, you are such a gift to the people you're spending time with at the nursing home. My papa lives in a home (he's 97) and the people who work and volunteer there are always so kind. Their kindness means so much to me and my family. We know papa is being loved when we can't be there. Thank you! Merry Christmas and enjoy your family time! You'll be missed online, but we'll see you in 2014!

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    1. Thanks Michelle, the people staff who work there are treasures, I agree. Hope you have a lovely holiday time too!

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  3. There is something special that happens to us when we open our hearts for those who are in need. By being the smiling hand that offers the coffee or tea, you are a blessing to so many, but healing can also take place in your heart. Wishing you extra blessings this holiday!

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    1. You are so right, Jaana, the goodness works both ways. Happy holidays to you, too!

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  4. I love that you have returned to the nursing home, Linda. What a wonderful thing to do. Happy holidays. Enjoy the time with your family. I will be thinking about you.

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    1. Thanks Katherine. I am happy to volunteer, and will love doing it, too! Hope you and your family have a cozy, sweet, and very bookish holiday, among other treats!

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  5. You are giving the greatest gift to people - yourself and your time. Your kindness matters. Have a wonderful holiday with your family!

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    1. Thanks very much Terje. Happiest of holidays to you and yours, too!

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  6. Your post made me teary for many reasons, I think. You are so good to go back and to understand how much humans love stories, music, and companionship, even when they don't remember it. We all have the present. What a lucky community to have you return with your spirit and gifts!

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    1. Thanks Melanie, it is a special place to be in the moment. Happy holidays!

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  7. What lucky residents of this home to have you continue to be in their lives! You touch so many lives, you are a gift. Have a blessed holiday with your family. I look forward to your return in January.

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    1. Thank you, Elsie. I hope your weather softens for Christmas, but looks as if you will have a white one! Happy holidays!

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  8. Wonderful idea to stay connected to a place you sent so much time getting to know and memories now kept alive through what you can offer others. You are one great lady, I'm proud to call, friend.

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    1. Thanks Bonnie, I appreciate your words always! Looking forward to your 2013 post!

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  9. Good for you, Linda! I'm sure they (staff and patients) will all benefit greatly from your extra hands and TLC. When we first moved to Sydney, we had weekly visits with my mother-in-law who was in an assisted living situation and then moved to a dementia unit. At the time, my oldest was still a baby, and just having him with us lit up the patients' faces like nothing else.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, too, Michelle. My four year old granddaughter likes visiting because that's where her grandpa lived as far as she's concerned. I'm sure I'll take her back at other times-she is delighted to interact with everyone & they love it too. Mostly they want to touch! Very sweet! Happy holidays!

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  10. So like you, Linda, to take your journey through a persoanlly challenging time and turn it into something of service to others.Your warm and gentle ways will more comfort than you will ever know. I wish you a wonderful holday with your family - how blessed you all must feel to share the season with each other. Enjoy! Take pictures! Share moments with us later!!

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    1. Thank you Tara-you're making me feel quite special with that note, but I really am enjoying this for my own sake, as well as doing my best to be a good volunteer/help! It'll be interesting how it evolves. And I am excited to spend this time with my kids and their families. We'll be sad and missing Arvie a lot, but the grandchildren will help us celebrate in a big way, as usual! Hope your holidays are special too, now that the cranberry/popcorn string is on the tree!

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  11. I'm so happy for you that you are going to spend some time volunteering at a place that meant a lot to you. Those are lucky families to have you there. Happy holidays!

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    1. Thank you Dana. I think I will enjoy this volunteering very much. Happy Holidays to you too!

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  12. My best friend's father lived in a VA Home for altzheimers patients. He recently passed away. I still think of the men who lived there, the women who care for them and their families. You are so right - you do get attached. You are doing such a beautiful thing by going back and volunteering. We're having trouble thinking about that right now. It still hurts.

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    1. I understand about the sadness in returning, and knowing your loved one is no longer there. That hasn't been so easy, but I also do miss everyone else too, and they have helped by being so welcoming. Thank you for sharing and I'm sorry for your friend's and your loss. I hope the holidays bring some sweet times remembering.

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  13. What a wonderful journey you're going to take by volunteering at the nursing home. I imagine was a hard decision to come to, but it sounds like you're in the right place right now.

    Enjoy the holidays with your family, Linda!

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    1. Thanks Stacey, as I said above, it hasn't been easy to return, but they have become friends as well, and now I can focus on some other kindness there as much as possible.

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  14. Your whole post made me say, "Yes." Yes to knowing the people you visit as individuals, yes to offering what we can. Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thank you Tabatha, it is a good chance to give back. Happiest of holidays to you too!

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  15. So lovely, and inspiring. Happy holidays to you and your family.

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    1. Thanks Beth. I hope your holidays are special too.

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  16. Linda, I am sorry that I did not realize your husband had passed. How very hard. It is so beautiful that you are volunteering at the nursing home! I wish you the very best of holidays! Enjoy your dear family!!

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    1. Thanks Maureen. It is nice to return, not all the memories there are hard, and as I've posted before, there is celebration always in many moments. Happy holidays to you as well!

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  17. Nursing homes can be one of the loneliest places, especially during the holidays. My mother-in-law spent about two years in one and I know she would have loved your visits, as I am sure the residents there will. May God bless you on your new "slice of life." Have a wonderful time with your family this holiday season!

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    1. Thanks Leigh Anne. I know it can mean long hours for the residents. I hope I can spread a little cheer, and they will return it for sure too. Happy holidays to you too!

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    2. Your have me all teary eyed and emotional with your post. I too know nursing homes from so many angles. I've worked there and I have had loved ones there many times. Nursing homes can be so lonely.....years ago my kids decorated the rooms of so many at the home where their grandfather lived...they were young and it seemed so natural...they were there every Sunday...and I had my CCD students donate lights and decorations...mostly tacky but sill so full of love. For you, it must be must harder as you can see and know what kids do not see. Yet, you go and you give and you share. I am sure that your put a smile on the hearts of many a resident many a day through sharing a wee bit of yourself. I know that because you put a smile on my face regularly with your wonderful comments. I wish you a wonderful, happy memory filled holiday with your own family. I am sure that while this has been a very hard year, there will be moments of great joy that you will savor. .

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    3. I realize there are many aspects that I do not see, and I had one terrible experience at another home first, before this one. Although it was awful, thank goodness the discovery was made quickly, and the move was a very good one. I also am sure this place is not perfect, yet, for example, they decorate for the holidays everywhere, the chef makes holiday goodies, and so on, plus the collaboration between the home and the hospice people was just wonderful. I feel fortunate that I have had a good experience, Anita, and I know there are people like you who also go out of their way to give comfort as visitors. You are dear to say these kind words. As I wrote earlier, I really am going to help, but I also know that it will be good for me too, a bit of a selfish reason. Thank you for having this conversation with me. I would hope we could meet and talk for a long evening! Cheers for a wonderful holiday yourself!

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  18. This sounds like a special place, and now it's even more special because you are helping there! I'm sure you are such a bright spot in the day of all the workers and patients you encounter! It's so nice that you are able to give back and help others in this way.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. As you can see, I believe they'll give a little to me, too. Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

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    2. I how wonderful that you are volunteering. I am sure the patients and the workers love your presence. Enjoy your family this coming week. Merry Christmas!

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    3. Thank you Jone. It will be a pleasure being there. Merriest of Christmases to you too! I hope your aches get better soon!

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  19. Hi, Linda. You've found a wonderful way to give back to your husband's caretakers and keep that connection. That's lovely.

    You know I enjoyed seeing those antique postcards! Have a wonderful holiday with your family.

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    1. Thanks Laura. I'll share a few more on Friday. Hope your holiday is terrific, too!

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  20. Linda, you are the perfect person to volunteer in a nursing home. Your kind and generous nature will be a gift to residents and staff alike! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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    1. Thanks Catherine-I know I will enjoy my time there too. Merry Christmas to you!

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  21. Linda, such a blessing you are to the staff and residents of this nursing home. By sharing with these people, it helps you to heal too. I pray that you and your family have a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas!

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    1. You're exactly right-works both ways July. Thanks for reading, and hope you have a terrific Christmas time with your family!

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  22. You are an inspiration, Linda! Happy Christmas and Merry New Year to you and yours. =)

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    1. Thanks Bridget, hope to see you on Poetry Friday! Happiest of holidays to you also!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!