There have been several memorable residents. When I first came here, Evelyn and Mamie sat in the lounge. Evelyn did crossword puzzles out loud and Mamie, who always wore a hair net, sat quietly. They reminded me of our cafeteria ladies at school. Evelyn, a former teacher, was very proper and frequently made comments about the revealing attire on some young ladies along with loud expressions of her disapproval. I admired her intense honesty. Their surroundings put Evelyn and Mamie together and they were inseparable. I also found that some residents did not look like residents. One walked around, took care of herself, and often helped other residents. I was here a month before I discovered she was actually a resident.
When I first came to the nursing home, I stayed pretty much to myself. But a nurses' aide suggested that I talk with a resident who had been a nurse. Theda was in the room next door to me. I met her as she wearily headed back to her room late one morning. When I asked if she was named for Theda Barra, the actress, she could not believe anyone knew who that was. After that, I watched her morning routine of heading to the empty dining room at 10 a.m. She had dietary get her a cup of coffee. Then, she would spend quiet time away from her oxygen watching the bird feeders and the activity behind the building. Sometimes I chimed in to talk and ask questions. I wanted to know how she could be so calm and adjusted. She said she came to the nursing home so she would not be a burden to her daughters. She felt her adjustment was easier because she made that decision. Theda was usually up for a visit but on many days I could tell it was a physical struggle.
Evie was a woman who liked to have fun. I was told she had been a “partier” in her day. She got through each day winking and flashing her toothless grin. She loved to be clean and smell nice. When I gave her bars of soap, she beamed with gratitude. It was great to get her something because she enjoyed it so much. After dinner, Evie would go for a smoke break, and I went along to chat. We would remain outdoors talking while she picked up cigarette butts with her reacher. I was always concerned that she would fall into the flower bed, but she always smiled and told me she wanted to do it.
To Evie, eating was a celebration. When relatives brought her favorites peanut butter pie and peanut butter fudge, she always came to my room to share them with me. When I said she was making me fat, she just winked and smiled. Following afternoon shift potlucks, she would get me and we would raid the remnants in the break room. The staff gave Evie the okay, and they knew we enjoyed their leftovers.