RE-posted because for some silly reason (me) the picture of my little hero didn’t post.
I think we all like a routine. It’s comfortable. No thinking or memory required. Some jump out of bed and run five miles. Every day. Routine. Some need that cup of coffee first thing. If we commute, we don’t even think how to get there. It’s our routine. Vacations are cool…they break up the routine. A routine for kids is healthy and necessary.
For the last month, I have established a new routine. I’m living alone in my boyhood home, visiting my mother mornings, afternoons and evenings at her nursing home. In the house I’m used to the bed, shower, venetian blinds, basement steps, garbage-recycling days, ’86 chevy, silly traffic problems, dumb Indiana government news and the horrible local newspaper. In the nursing home I’m familiar with most of the wonderful nurses, aides, staff and many patients. I push mom to the “sunroom” and we chat, laugh and she amazes me with her deep insight into human behavior. I push mom to the lobby-living room where families meet, watch the glass-housed birds, play Skip-bo, laugh some more and try to cheer her up in such a depressing atmosphere.
In a couple days I fly back to Bako and settle into my old routines. And now the routine that my mother has been used to comes to a halt…a painful halt. I need to get home. I miss my honey so much. But, I hate to leave. I know how much my leaving is going to hurt my mom.
I see so many stories being played out here, in the nursing home, every day. A man who never talks sits at the next table in the dining room, his chin buried in his chest. Then he’ll raise his head up and begin clapping. Clapping for 10 minutes or more at a time. I guess that’s his routine.
One lady barks, a Pekingese bark. Over and over.
Then there is this wonderful little man who visits his wife three times every day. Every time I see him I choke up. He is the sweetest-gentlest-kindest little guy in the world. He walks so slow, always looking down at each step, his cane in his left hand and a sack in the right. In the morning he brings the paper—he brings treats at lunch and dinner. He wheels his wife into the dining room and then tenderly kisses her and leaves. He repeats this routine morning, noon and night. I want to talk to him, but we only exchange pleasantries about the weather (the most common conversation every day in Indiana). He climbs slowly into his little red Chevy and I proudly notice the “Vets” license plate and the Marine Corp sticker and want to salute him. I wish with all my might that he and his wife could have their “old” routine back.
But…then…none of us can, really.