Friday, July 18

more goodbyes

There’s been an elderly lady and her son staying here for a hundred and thirteen nights. They’re from Hawai’i, and though the son seemed initially rude to me, he’s proven to be a very polite, if somewhat brusque, gentleman. The mother is a very sweet lady—I’ll call her Matilda since she has a very old-fashioned name—but not in very good health. Lifeline came and set up her phone for emergency contact, and what appear to be various medical professionals visit her pretty regularly. Denny works at a gas station, on a very late shift, and often doubles, to pay for their stay. He always stops in at the office to get change for his bus fare, and to say hello and flirt a little, as gentlemen in their fifties are wont to do with sassy young things.
Last weekend, things got a little worse for Denny and Matilda. The other swing girl went out to get a soda from the Coke machine where she heard faint cries. Noticing that the door to Matilda’s room was barely ajar, she went to it, calling to Matilda, who was lying on the floor between the two beds, unable to get up or reach her Lifeline. Carrie helped her back onto her bed and asked whether she wanted medical attention. When the housekeepers stopped by the next day, the same thing had happened again, and once more during my shift when I went to check on her. Fortunately, Matilda is tiny, so it was easy to help her, but we were all worried about her being alone when Denny was at work, so we tried to keep checking on her.
Since one of my sisters works at an assisted living facility, I mentioned the circumstances to her. We both agreed it would be cheaper for Matilda to be in one, and she mentioned that there was a studio available in hers for just over a thousand a month—less than what Denny was currently paying—including the cost of food, activities, and 24-hour personnel on staff. My sister even told me that Denny would probably be able to stay there with her still, as long as it wasn’t obvious. I was really excited to tell Denny about the opening; even though the facility is pretty far from our location, I thought it would be good for him to know there were options out there.
When I returned to work after my weekend, however, it was too late. I mentioned the studio opening to Denny, who told me that his mother was at Providence, and that she’d had a small stroke. She kept telling him she was just too tired to stand, not that anything else was the matter. While he was in the office, they called for him from the Emergency Room. It wasn’t good news; he told them very sternly to not make her think negatively, to just make her comfortable, and that he’d be back at 0800 to be with her. He said that they’d been just about to get an apartment when this happened.
Denny came in this evening, exhausted, after walking all over Portland all day long. When I asked how things were going, he told me, “Fine, if you like looking at caskets.” He told me not to be sorry, though, because things were going to happen regardless. I felt just awful for him, they have little to no money and he’s worried about her care for what time she has left—and he’s losing his mother. I commiserated with him, and he asked if he could just rest a while on one of our couches. “You don’t want to go to your room?” I asked him.
“They didn’t lock it up?” he asked.
“No, someone came in and paid for it today. Let me see . . . St Vincent de Paul paid it through Saturday morning.”
“I thought they had kicked us out because we couldn’t pay!” he told me, jubilantly. “Now I can take a shower. Oh, thank you, Schatzi!”
At least I could give him a little good news right now.
I’m feeling pretty guilty, I have to say. If I had mentioned their situation to my sister sooner, maybe she could have been at the assisted living facility. Maybe the stroke would have been caught sooner, and she wouldn’t be dying now. I should know that it’s not my fault, but I can’t help it.

1 comment:

LDP said...

Thanks a lot for making my eyes damp, dork. Now I wanna hug my mom.