A story that has nothing to do with Sam

Some of you may know I used to work at an assisted living facility. This story is about some of those women...It is entirely true and any profanity was straight from the mouths of these babes...so to speak.

As a unique new activity, I decided that I wanted to do something that would allow the residents to focus on the needs of others. I wanted to create a real "Chicken Soup for the Soul" afternoon. Something that people would send email forwards about long into the future...so that they could forward them on to others, so that they might win a trip to Disney World if they forwarded it to twelve more people in the next five minutes. Thus, I came up with the Encouragement Circle. I gathered all my residents around in a circle in the library. There was Gertie, a bit confused...(oh who am I kidding, they're all a bit confused)but still had a dry wit that I think was more a result of her dementia than anything else; Elyce, the loud-mouthed northerner who had outlived three husbands and whose dying wish was to have sex one last time before she died (I’m not making this up, trust me, I wish I were); Shirley, never married but traveled the world over, a bit of a know-it-all; Dorothy, a woman whose greatest accomplishment was raising the twins that never came to visit; Ms. Clyde, a retired teacher, who was once valedictorian of her class, but now couldn't remember when lunch was; Dr. Bob, Parkinson’s disease...ex pediatric cardiologist...couldn't remember your name, but could diagnose pulmonary edema using a fork and some thread.

I looked around at the skeptic faces. Many people think that the elderly are so grateful for anything they get that they sit around in utter appreciation for any little tidbit of attention you give them. Well, quite frankly, this is not always the case. They expect a lot...you are there for their amusement. They feel the need to ask you a lot of embarrassing questions about you and your boyfriend and why you have gained five pounds since you've been working there, when you needed to lose weight to begin with...stuff I wouldn't tell my diary.

On this day, I thought my activity would go over well. I decided that I would begin the encouragement. "Well, I would just like to say that I think Gertie has a delightful, dry sense of humor and I love the way she laughs." Everyone just looked at me, Elyce squinted her eyes in disgust. Okay...I took in the silence...I guess they didn't understand the game. Gertie just looked at me like I'd gone mad...not only did she not appreciate my compliment but she almost looked offended that I chose to point her out first. "Okay," I thought repeating myself would be a good idea...turns out it wasn't. "Gertie is such a delightful person." "No, she's not!" Elyce's tone indicated that my compliment was preposterous...like I had just said that Osama Bin Laden had a real sensitive side or something. "She's not delightful...she's a pain in my ass." Elyce was yelling now. "Is that so?" Gertie's voice never elevated to match Elyce's...she merely sniffed and stated, "Well at least I didn't kill three husbands." Clearly this was not going the way I had hoped. "I didn't kill them...they all just died 20 years after we were married." "Well," added Shirley who never liked Elyce to begin with. "If I had been your husband, I would have made sure to die after five years." "Well, at least you would have been married you old maid." Elyce was taking on these two women single handedly.

At this point, I was quite sure that my "activity" was headed toward an episode of "Cops" rather than a "Chicken Soup" edition. "Well.." a small voice spoke up...poor Ms. Clyde...she was trying to make peace. "I like the Doctor..." We all looked at Dr. Bob who, in spite of the post menopausal estrogen fight, was dozing happily in his chair...his eyes had opened at the mention of his name..."He's very cooperative..." Ms. Clyde was smiling as she repeated her encouragement. "He doesn't have a choice...he lives in a house with a bunch of women." Elyce was hell bent on shooting everyone down. All the ladies were bickering now...It was all just indistinguishable chatter. I could hear the sound of a private duty aide laughing in the next room. "LOOK" I said standing up in defiant command. "This is an encouragement circle...and if we are not going to be encouraging...fine, but there is absolutely NO YELLING IN THE ENCOURAGEMENT CIRCLE...YOU GET IT! NONE!" Everyone looked at me..."What the hell are you mad at...this was your idea!"


Zog mom said…
Absolutely classic story and very well written!
Anonymous said…
You really tell Great stories! FuntimeZ!!!

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