Tuesday, March 19, 2013

There's Always a Story

Once again, I have some odd rambling thoughts floating about in my quirky brain; however, they will all eventually lead to an actual post with substance.  First, the twisted stuff...

In my Bipolarness - be this a word or not (and I really don't give a rat's ass because I'm somewhat discombobulated this morning) - I've been sleeping far too much.  The sound of my teenage, autistic boys yelling at me for no particular reason, or they've been caught lying, or I find items which belong to me in their bedrooms which only means they've been rifling through my personal belongings have me craving the solace of my pilliow lately.  Also, since they're adopted, they're now playing the I-don't-love-you-I've-never-loved-you-you're-not my-real-parents game.  Lovely.  This brings me to my next rant.

In order for me to force myself awake and accomplish a much needed bath, I went to Starbucks this morning.  I'm perfectly capable of making my own candy bar in a cup.  In fact, I had one earlier.  I NEEDED MORE.  IT MUST BE STRONGER.  I MUST BE INSPIRED.  So, instead of trying to explain to the drive-through Barista, "I'd like a a Skinny Venti Mocha no whip add an extra shot of espresso and mix in 4 packets of artificial sweetener and a hefty shake of powdered cinnamon - Oh, and please include a sausage, cheese, and egg muffin" (to offset the diet coffee); I simply asked for the breakfast sandwich and the coffee sans the sweetener and cinnamon because I could add those things at home.  I also know from past experience that asking for my specialty drink is like trying to explain to a hair waxing technician why I only want my lower forearms treated.  It's just not worth my time and effort.  And NO, I will not explain it now in this blog.  It's far too complicated.  One word:  Sasquatch.  This should be sufficient for now.

AND finally, because I have two spoiled and ravenous dogs who've already been fed leftover steak from a previous night's dinner, I realized that if I didn't shove the sausage muffin down my gullet within the three blocks between my house and Starbucks, I would enjoy it less than I would standing at my counter with the two of them clawing at me.  Now I have indigestion.  I still had to take the dogs outside before I sat down to write this blog and the plastic shopping bag which I've asked my husband to remove from the tree three weeks ago startled my fat little steak eating Shih Tzu into not pooping.  Instead, she pooped on the stair case landing.  Why, my dear friends and blog readers ask, don't I take the plastic bag down?  Because before today I would have considered it but now I won't.  It's the principal of the matter.

Silly, twisted thoughts aside..here's what my brain woke up writing today.

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There's Always a Story

I'm a story teller by nature.  Perhaps it's the Irish in me.  Maybe it's a Bryant Family trait.  My clan has always loved to sit around and tell a good story.  Oh, and God help you if you're one of the main characters.  I can say in all honesty, we tend to embellish a wee bit for the giggle factor.  Not only do I love to tell a tale, but I love to hear them too.  Funny, serious, history, love stories - they can be just about anything and everyone.

I can only guess this is why I love working and/or visiting with the older generations.  Their lives are a wealth of adventures and these folks are begging to share them or at least I've always thought so until I met *Clara.

Clara was a resident at the nursing home I worked at during my brief history in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  She was also one of the first patients who screamed obscenities at me.  She was coherent.  There was nothing wrong with her except her age and what the aides explained as "pure meanness". Clara would degrade anyone who walked into her room, refused to use the bathroom, slapped the aides, and wouldn't cooperate when it came time to place her into her wheelchair.  It was even rumoured that she could walk but refused to.  Every aide was terrified of her; however, I couldn't wait to meet her.

When I was trained as a Certified Nursing Assistant one lesson never left me and it was a lesson in humanity.  The students were asked to write down ten things in order of importance in our lives for instance, spouses, children, home, financial security, faith, health, etc. and then imagine all of these things being taken away one by one.  That's what most of these residents suffered and what most of the employees in these facilities lacked in understanding.  The residents have every reason to be angry.  Let them yell.  I was ready for Clara. Something in her life had allowed her to be bitter and far be it from me to judge her or take it personally.

My first day on her hall, I knocked on her door to get her up for breakfast, "Good morning, Ms. Clara.  I'm Bri.  How are are you doing today?"

"I don't care who you are!  Get the fuck out of my room!"

"Well then!  Is that how you're going to treat the gal who's here to wipe your ass?" 

Dead silence.  Clara just sat in bed staring at me with her steely blue eyes.  I grinned and winked at her.  She burst into laughter.  No one had ever spoken to her like that before.  We became instant friends.  There were days she'd still yell at me and of course, I'd tell her to knock it off.  I'd tell her to stop getting pissy with me.  We'd always end up laughing. 

Out of all my patients, she never offered up her story.  She held on to it tightly.  I knew she regretted her life.  There were no pictures beside her bed.  No visitors to see her.  No letters were ever delivered.  I became her family.  Instead of sharing her past with me, she asked for my stories.  My days became her days.  What I planned on preparing for dinner became interesting to her.  She'd add ingredients and offer suggestions.  My impulsive teenage years were laughable, shameful, and yet oh so indulgent to her.

This time of my life was also my loneliest.  My first marriage was crumbling.  I was living in a state hundreds of miles away from the support of my friends and family.  There were days when, without a word, Clara could see my anguish.  This woman became my surrogate grandmother.  She knew of the horrible fights between my husband and I.  She witnessed my heartache as the weeks and months wore on.

On the day I left my husband and Colorado Springs, I made a final visit to the nursing home.  I went directly to Clara's bedside and wept in her arms.  I told her I loved her.  She smiled and told me she'd never forget me.  Sadly, I never saw her again.

There's always a story.  This is my story, our story - Clara's and my own.

*Name has been changed for privacy purposes.