Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is It Just Me Or Is It Old In Here?

Four wonderful inches of rain! But that's not what I'm talking about today. It's about my reading -- which, though I'm still hard at it with Miss Birdie, I do a bit of every day -- at breakfast and lunch, while I take a tub bath, and before I fall asleep.

I've noticed something odd. First I read A Place Called Canterbury. The author grew up down the block from our family -- I knew him slightly; he's a few years younger than I. But he's writing about a 'geriatric apartment building' in Tampa -- a place where those who can afford it go to spend their so-called Golden Years. I actually know some of the folks he's talking about so the book was of particular interest to me. And the lesson I took away was this -- even with money, there's nothing "golden" about getting old and helpless and, worst of all, senile.

But it's a good, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, read which I recommend.

So what do I read next? Four little books written by Effie Wilder, an eighty-something year old lady who's living in a retirement home. They were given to me to pass on to an eighty-something year old friend of mine who's (you guessed it) in a nursing home. I read the first one, wanting to make sure it wasn't too fluffy or silly (my friend is fragile but no fool). Well, I found it quite engaging; enough so that I read the other three.

Then I pick up something to re-read: Fannie Flagg's sublime Fried Green Tomatoes -- forgetting that much of the action takes place in (all together now) a nursing home! As I read, I realize that I, too, have written about nursing homes -- in Art's Blood and again in In A Dark Season.

I shake my head -- time for a change.

So I pick up Water For Elephants, which comes highly recommended and has been sitting on my TBR (to be read) pile for months. It's terrific -- a beautifully told story about life in a small traveling circus during the Depression. Oh, and the narrator's a ninety-something year old man, living in a . . . nursing home.

My next read is going to be Winnie the Pooh.

And on a different and cheerier note -- here's a link to an video of twin baby mooslings playing in the sprinkler.Posted by Picasa


Anonymous said...


Your post really touched home
with me today. I worked as a
receptionist and in marketing
for a huge retirement community
for nine years. The staff and
the residents loved each other
and thought of ourselves as a
huge disfunctional family! As
with all families there were
some that were lovely and some
that were not so lovely, but all
were accepted into the family and
loved or tolerated!

The moose video was wonderful and
brought a smile to my face. I will
most certainly pass it along.


Susan M. Bell said...

Loved the moose video. Proves that it doesn't matter the species, all children love to play and just enjoy life.

My mom worked in a nursing home for a while when I was a kid. The one she worked at was a sad place. I think most of them are better now-a-days, but still not the place you want to be if at all possible. There was one patient there that she really loved. She was a 9-year-old girl who was like an infant. I guess the family just couldn't handle her care and put her in the nursing home. Mom, who worked graveyard shift, would stop in to see her before she came home every morning; comb her hair, talk to her. She liked getting her to smile as often as she could.

Vicki Lane said...

Hi, Cynthia,

I know here are certainly saints in nursing homes who treat the clients with all the love and respect possible. There are some horror stories too. Most, I think, are doing the best they can with a difficult situation.

I feel sorriest for those folks like my friend, whose mind is sharp. She is warehoused with people who while not actually suffering from dementia, don't afford her any real companionship. And though she was a fine cook and still loves good food, she has to eat the geriatric, tasteless, lowest common denominator meals -- I bring her fresh fruit or salad when I can.

The realities of running a nursing home for people on Medicare or Medicaid preclude the one-on-one special care most of us would choose at the end of life -- no one's to blame for this -- and I don't know how to make it better.

But I'm thankful for those who have the mindset you mentioned!

Glad you liked the video -- I just adored watching those silly babies having fun!

Vicki Lane said...

Susan -- your mom was one of the saints. My sister-in-law Fay was another, as was the guy who ran one of the nursing homes she worked in. Bless them all!

Pat in east TN said...

The books you mentioned sound interesting, soooo are on my 'wish list', but "Fried Green Tomatoes" is one of my favorite books and movies. "Water for Elephants" has also been on my/buried within TBR pile, so I shall have to pull it out once I'm done with "Edgar Sawtelle", a very good read.

The babies playing in the water was just too good ... really enjoyed watching it. :o)

Unknown said...

I'm reading "Edgar Sawtelle" right now and can't keep my face out of it - it's wonderful. Vicki - just wondering if you ever read "The Turtle Warrior" by Mary Relindes Ellis - it's her only book - not sure why she never wrote another - maybe nothing could ever top "Turtle Warrior" - it's an all-time favorite of mine - along with "Peace Like a River". Glad to see the rain.

Tammy said...

My Grandma was in a 'care center' for several years. A fine, strong, busy, crafty woman reduced to a bewildered, frightened, paranoid wisp of herself. Very sad, but I agree--it has to be harder for those with sharp, alert minds. I'm a pretty private person, and I think sometimes what it would be like to be taken from my home, away from all my lovely critters, and housed with strangers. Gives you pause. On a similar note, Jon Katz (Bedlam Farms) has a website where he often shares his experience with Hospice patients, sometimes the insight is very moving and I often end up crying.

Vicki Lane said...

Liz and Pat, I'll be checking out those reading recommendations.

Tammy -- It does,indeed, give you pause. And as the boomers and their parents age, more and more folks will be thinking about this. Maybe someone will come up with some better alternatives.

Susan M. Bell said...

I was told that there is (or used to be, not sure) an apartment building in Savannah that was set up for the elderly. Each apartment had the usual - bedroom, living room, small kitchen, etc - and on the ground floor there was also a dining room for those who didn't/couldn't cook, or those who wanted to share a community meal, as well as a community room I guess you would call it, where they could gather as they wanted. There was also a small medical "clinic" I guess you could call it, staffed 24/7 with medical personnel. (Don't know if there was a full-fledged doctor at all times, but nurses at least I believe.) It was an expensive place, but it was a way for people to remain as independent as they could for as long as they could. For someone who still has a sharp mind and could still do most things for themselves, that would be the type of place to go.