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Monday, January 16, 2012


It was Friday afternoon at the nursing home. Many of my co-workers had already left for the day. I wasn’t feeling the T.G.I.F. (“Thank God It’s Friday”) hullabaloo people often express on Fridays. It’d been a busy day. I had new patients to admit that day. I was tired, and wanted to be finished for the day, and the week. But, I still had a few tasks to complete before I could head to where I’d find solace that evening, home. 

While walking the halls, and checking on our new patients, I observed that I wasn’t the only one that had my hands full that day. The activity director was trying to get as many residents as she could to participate in an activity. 

I diverted from my route on the hall and decided to help wheel residents to the activity. I approached Margie, a long-term resident, who was sitting in her wheelchair by the nurses’ desk.

“Margie, we’re having a musical presentation. I think you’ll love to see it.”

“A what?”

“A group of college students is here to sing to us. It’s a choir from the Missouri State University. Would you like to go?”

“All right.” She grinned.

I wheeled Margie down the hall.

“Where are we going?” Margie asked just moments after we had decided to attend. 

Margie was one of the most delightful residents in the nursing home. She was a social butterfly, and loved activities, but her short-term memory was becoming more and more diminished. The staff often had to repeat the information to her several times. 

I stopped the wheelchair for a moment, stepping forward, motioning in front of Margie. I knelt, making eye contact with her. I fixed my gaze on her big blue eyes. 

She had an innocent look of a lost child. I smiled and reached for her hand. She smiled back. 

I told her where we were going, again.

“All right.” She grinned. 

As we were approaching our destination, I heard someone calling my name. I stopped again, and looked around. I saw Ronald, a maintenance man, walking down the hall, carrying a telephone in his hand. 

“The new patient in 108 asked for a telephone. I took this to his room, but there’s no tone.”

Even though it was Friday, past 6:30 PM, I engaged my brain in weighing the possible solutions to the phone problem. Phone access was given just as a courtesy, if available, so, most of the rooms had no telephones lines. The maintenance supervisor would have to determine whether this was a technical problem in the existing phone line and report it to the telephone company, or find  another available phone line that he could transfer to that room. With the maintenance supervisor having already left for the evening, and off on weekends, the new resident would either have to wait until Monday, or be moved to a room with a working telephone line. 

I explained to Ronald the alternatives we had, and offered to go and talk with the new resident shortly after I was finished taking Margie to the activity. 

My focus went back to Margie. She was quiet, eagerly observing and listening to my conversation with Ronald. After Ronald had left, she stared at me, her lips curving into a mischievous smile. 

I raised my eyebrow, and grinned with a hint of embarrassment.

“I know, Margie. I’m bossing around!”

“No.” Margie shook her head. She drew closer to me, spending a few seconds searching for the right words she wanted to say. “No, you’re a leader!”

All of the sudden excitement embraced me. Margie had little idea of how gleeful her words sounded to me that Friday evening. 

I kissed Margie on her forehead, and stepped away. I noticed she quickly engaged in talking to some visitors. 
I went home with Margie in my mind. Alzheimer’s may have attenuated her memory, but her innate ability to continue to show love and inspire was in no way diminished. It was totally intact. 

Now my T.G.I.F turned into a T.G.F.M.! (Thank God For Margie—our sweet Margie!)