Tuesdays at the Nursing Home: Deep Subjects
When I stop by his room, Freddy's up in a Gerry chair- a sort of rolling lounge chair for people who can't sit up in a wheelchair. It's the first time in months, since his double, below-the-knee amputation, that I've seen him out of bed. He's got his new upper plates in. His hair's been cut and he's been to physical therapy and had lunch in the dining room. A big day, surely, but Freddy looks glum. He stares down at the watch on his wrist, the one he bought from the Avon catalog during happier times at the retirement "hotel," and sighs.
"Are you feeling down?" I ask.
"What?" His face wrinkles like maybe he didn't hear me, something he's taken to doing since his return from the hospital.
"Depressed," I say. "Are you depressed?"
He just stares at me through thick-rimmed, black glasses and shrugs. "Well, sure. Wouldn't you be?"
There's no other accessible chair in the room, so I sit down on the hard linoleum floor beside him, so we're closer to eye level with each other.
"What's got you down?" I ask this like I don't know the answer because it's what you do when you're the social worker. You don't assume. But really I ask because what the hell else is there to say? And he answers with exactly what I knew he'd say.
"Oh, I don't know. My condition. Being in here. Where I used to be. Who I used to be. The loneliness. Missing my wife. Christmas. I guess that's about enough."
I nod and wait for some wonderful piece of solace to fall out of my mouth, only it doesn't. Instead I feel myself sinking right down with him because really, what can you say to that? So, what do I finally say in all my therapeutic wisdom?
He glances at the Avon watch, then at me. "Deep subject," he says.
I sigh softly. "I wish I had a magic wand," I tell him.
"Oh, you do do you?" His eyes twinkle a bit and he half-smiles. "What would you do with that?"
"I'd start off by waving it over you."
He smiles, taking pity on me probably and we sit in silence for a few moments. "Well," he says.
"Deep subject," I answer.
This dance with Freddy reminds me of being in church, I think. The priest says a line- then the congregation gives their rote response. And all most of us ever seem to hope for is a tiny bubble of faith to surround and protect us- just long enough to carry us safely through from one moment into the next.
Posted by Nancy at 12/17/2013 07:29:00 PM