Ten days ago, I posted a story called ‘Beautiful’. It was meant as an example of the positive feelings of self-worth felt by one person after another person’s kind words and actions. Two days after sharing , I experienced an amendment to the story.
My Dad’s currently in an assisted living facility. Nearly three years ago, I spent an entire month in a facility that’s almost exactly like my Dad’s temporary home (he’s coming home next week!) Everything’s eerily the same in these two homes…the personalities of staff, the service of meals, administration of medicines, the wallpaper, and most eerily of things that I remember as a patient…the staff’s description of patients.
On my 2nd day in that facility in Roanoke, a nurse named Darlene asked me a question that I’ll never forget.
“You’re not a Lifer, are you?”
The ones that’ll spend their final days in such a place, and those who’ll go home.
So, back to the point of this story.
I’m an obnoxious, personable person. I remember how lonely that it was alone in my room three years ago, no visitors, the highlight of many of my days was physical therapy and getting my blood drawn, anything involving another person. So, I make a point of conversing and interacting with everyone that I meet in my Dad’s hallways. I currently know the names of a dozen or so staff members working at Dad’s temporary home. I also know the names of a half-dozen residents.
One of the residents is named Ella.
I started talking with her one afternoon, just because that’s what I do and she had a magnet of a smile. I had first noticed her as she made lap after lap around the hallways in her wheelchair.
As we first spoke, I noticed a distinctive accent.
“German?” I asked.
“Ja!” and then she rambled off a phrase or two that just had me nodding and smiling.
My Aunt B, who spent a few years in Berlin, had taught me four or five German words, two of which I still remember (the naughty ones).
As I pointed to myself and laughed, I exclaimed “Dummkopf!” (German slang for dumbass:) And she laughed and laughed.
Over the next few days, I learned of her name Ella and I persisted that I was Dummkopf.
While venturing in the next evening to watch my Dad eat dinner, I came upon Ella near the nurse’s station. We shared the now-normal smiles and touching of hands, and then Ella started into a tirade, not her normal self.
“I have been past that door down there four times today and it is always locked. I want to go home! If it is locked next time, I’m going to dig a hole!”
The quickest thing that my slow mind could come up with was “Ella, you don’t want to go home right now…it’s almost dinnertime!” “And it smells good!”
And she listened to me and the frustration left her face.
“I am Dummkopf! and I am hungry!”
And she giggled under wrinkled skin and repeated a phrase spoken in German.
And then she translated while pointing at me,
“Full of smiles”
The first Beautiful story
A story from my days in a rehabilitation facility