Marie (her middle name) is an aide who usually works two double shifts (afternoon/night) plus two afternoons a week. There is something in her manner that makes me feel super-comfortable. Although her eyes are usually bright and she acts like everything is doable, I can tell if she is not feeling well, or if something is going on in her personal life.
Marie can quickly set me up with my laptop. She can usually adjust me in bed, which saves her from scouring the halls looking for another aide to assist her. She has worked with me long enough that she anticipates what I need—a great quality in an aide.
When Marie is my afternoon shift aide, our encounters are pleasant because she talks while she works. There is little time for staff to converse with residents because they are always busy. I seldom have the opportunity to talk to anyone at length about current events, politics, the last book I read or movie I saw. I value the time we spend together because some of us residents are starved for conversation.
Marie is bright, and planned on attending community college. She is a single mom with two small boys who are close in age. She says although being a single mom can be difficult, working helps to support her family.
Marie also shares stories about her visits to her grandparents who live near Las Vegas. Since I have not been there, her Las Vegas adventures serve as a verbal travelogue.
Best of all Marie listens to me. Since I am a voracious reader, I usually have something I feel is worth sharing. If she tires of listening to me, it never shows on her face. When I was growing up older neighbors thrived when telling their stories to me. I always listened because I wanted to learn from their experiences. Marie is a listener who nods her head and asks questions.
Many days we talk and talk or I talk and talk and Marie listens. Afterwards, we realize our minds have temporarily left the confines of my nursing home room and we smile at each other.
One afternoon Marie and I were involved in a conversation. Suddenly, there was a knock on my door. In came two aides who were searching for her. I told them I was holding her hostage by talking to her. All of them laughed and headed out of my room.
Marie is a smile in my life.