Happy New Year to my Friends and Readers! One of the questions I get asked about frequently in book clubs or events is if I still continue to write. I really have not had the time with my nursing job, especially the last two years. And that is how long it has been since I have shared a story. I’ve missed writing. I want to share with you a story about D.
Years ago, I took care of his wife. He was very devoted to her, although not the easiest to deal with. I quickly picked up on the fact that he likes things a certain way and you need to make things his idea for it to work. At times, he would frustrate me and on one occasion, I lost my cool with him. I remember sitting in my car wondering if they were better served with another nurse. Which sometimes happens.
He reminded me so much of my dad. Both WW II vets (Navy), both engineers, both determined and like to be right. Both very devoted to their spouses and both born in the same year. A few months ago, I brought my dad’s Navy book that my Grandmother Hazel had documented in, following all of my dad’s ship destinations. He quietly paged through it and I could tell it brought back so many memories for him. We had wondered if they had been in the same ship, but he was stationed on the USS San Fransisco and my dad USS Cottle, the year 1944. He is of a brave generation, that only a few remain.
After D’s wife passed away, I knew I would miss him. Its no secret in our office that I love the hard to deal with curmudgeons. And that is D.
Last year, he called and asked if we would take take care of him due to issues. Again, I return to his home and this time I get to take care of him. I’m secretly thrilled since he has grown on me.
So, over the past year we have formed a bond. I call him when I’m coming over, knowing he is pacing until I get there. I read his long notes he writes to me as we sit in his office, with a picture of his battle ship hanging on his wall. The notes have become harder to read and it details his decline that is hard for me to watch. We weigh him when I’m there and laugh when he is correct on the number he is at. He shows me all the awards he has received on the wall, work and military related.
It is a true story that I almost killed him a few months ago. His weight is going down and I have been baking for him. That day I baked him banana bread, warm out of the oven. I put lots of butter on it and gave him a piece before our “meeting” and I was reviewing the staff’s notes when I heard a gurgle. I looked over at him sitting on the couch and he had a look of panic. I could tell he was choking and I got up and he couldn’t speak and was turning blue. I didn’t even hesitate, I went behind him and shoved him forward, all 6’2 of him. The bread flew out and I’m pretty sure my heart rate was over 200.
I had to let his family know and their comment was, “He would have died happy!” We are now to the point where he can tease me about it, I still continue to bring him food but now it is soup.
On my visit last week, he made a comment that he wanted to make me lunch. I don’t typically eat lunch and I don’t make it a habit with my client’s but I could tell this meant a lot to him. Our visit takes a long time, he runs me through the mill with his handwritten questions he can’t read. He’s in the kitchen for a long time and he returns to the dining table with ravioli and a glass of milk. I can tell his is so happy sitting with me, asking me repeatedly if I maybe want his Boost instead of the milk. I smile at him.
It’s more than the ravioli.
I’m sure many of you know that this has been a hard two years. You are either the hero or the enemy to many families. They are upset because you’re vaccinated or you’re not. One family wants you to wear a mask, one family insists you don’t. Two think I have a tracker in me. And the questions and loneliness families feel. Its difficult to explain it, unless you are knee deep in it. Sometimes I come home and wonder if I can continue to do this.
And then a soon to be 99 year old makes me ravioli. And packs me a Snicker’s bar and two cookies for my way home. And sends me a Christmas card to my office and his name is taped to the card because his daughter said he wanted to practice his handwriting and that it would look ok on my card. Just like my mom did towards the end.
This is the best part of my job. Getting to take care of D.
Wishing you love and good health in 2022. As always, thank you for reading The Lemon Bar Queen.