Friday, July 29, 2011

diapers to big diapers

age is such a hard concept to grasp. at least for me. i'm not talking about understanding the concept 
of years and tracking how long we have spent on this place called earth. i'm talking about aging.
possessing beauty and white teeth. or just having teeth in general.  to bear a semi-normal nose and a oval face shape. i'm talking about having breasts that don't look like stretch armstrong's arms after you have pulled them at arms length.  i just can not seem to wrap my brain around the idea of being trapped inside this old withered shell that used to look like a human body.
lastly, and most importantly, i'm talking about losing your mind in the most literal sense.
to wake up in the morning and get your cup of coffee. to wake up and take a shower and watch the news or read the paper. to wake up one morning, no different than the day before and not remember your routine. forgetting where to get your coffee.  or even worse, forgetting that you get coffee and read the paper and take a shower.  to feel lost again.  to feel scared again.  to be a child again.
  i work at a fancy retirement home right on the southwest waterfront of beautiful portland, oregon.
when i first started working there, i was constantly asked by my fellow coworkers "can you tell me any of the residents names yet?".  having a dumbfounded look that i feel was constantly on my face, especially when asked this seemingly stupid question at the time... i thought, are you serious? is this a trick question? they all look the same.
short permed hair.
"grandma sweaters"
old stale perfume.
hunched over.
and lipstick that somehow would always so easily stain my face with lip prints but was impossible to rub off.
i think back to 6 months ago and wonder if i had any idea of what i was getting myself into.
the amazing people i would soon grow and build relationships with.
i have at least 10 different portland grandmas and grandpas that hug me and kiss me and
tell me how pretty i am.  that always say "oh hannah, you are such a good girl".
who love me. and i love them.
and then, the hard part. 
realizing they are at the end of their days. that their days are literally numbered and i have to watch
them decline. i have to say bye to each and every one of them.  i don't know that i emotionally can
handle this.
today, i saw one of my favorite residents.  one of the most warm, kind and sweetest souls there.  (for privacy reasons, i'll call her cathy.) 
Cathy was just recently moved to the assisted living floors, as she has dementia and it has seemingly overnight got horribly worse.
As i walked down her hall to take care of one of the rooms on her floor i notice miss Cathy standing outside her door looking very scared and very lost. 
she asked if i would just come and be in her apartment because she was scared. she told me she was going to call a taxi and go home. that she really wanted to go home.
something about what she had said left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. 
i asked her where home was while she was fiddling with her purse and she got sidetracked.
i stayed with her as long as i could, then brought her cna to keep her company and told her i had to go back to work.
i said, "bye Cathy! i love seeing you. i will see you soon."
- "oh goodbye honey! i hope to see you soon."

and i hope to see her too.

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