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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!)


mzzterry said...

a wonderful thing to read on this monday morning! thanks. I enjoy your posts.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

How lovely for that dear lady to allow you to see yourself as others see you.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Lovely story of a lovely lady!

Anna :o]

Arkansas Patti said...

Per usual, you bring a smile. So glad you have Margie in your life but also so very glad she has you.

Diana said...

There are certain things that never leave us. Our basic instincts as to how we perceive people for one. Margie sounds like a sweet woman and I can understand why you wanted to get her settled where she would be happy! Love Di ♥

MunirGhiasuddin said...

A very nice thing to hear from a patient. You must have been so appreciated by her as you always work with dedication and guidance. Thanks for sharing:)

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Doris,

What a keen observer Margie still was, despite her Alzheimer's.
A little kindness goes a long way and is always being rewarded!
Love to you,


Rita said...

I absolutely love your stories! She sounds like a precious lady. :):)

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

This is such a touching story, Doris! How wonderful that Margie could keep an importance piece of herself -- with such lovely reframing -- despite the ravages of Alzheimers and how wonderful that you could see and appreciate the beauty of her spirit!

Kathleen said...

What a valuable affirmation of life, especially Margie's life!

Jules said...

Sometimes life sends us a little gift and wraps it with a smile. Hope "Leader" had a wonderful weekend. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow


I always enjoy reaading your post and this one was no exception.
Thanks for sharing your life and work.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Doris .. what a wonderful story - it's taking the time to engage ... and to being interested in what's going on around you. Good call Margie .. as she says, Doris, you sure are a leader.

Have a good Friday and weekend .. cheers Hilary

Ann said...

What a wonderful way to end the week. TGFM!

Jenny Woolf said...

That's such a nice story. And Margie sounds lovely.

Deb Shucka said...

Such amazing gifts you receive from these people you serve.

Sandi said...

What a lovely story, as always. I love the way you weave these stories. Beautiful, thoughtful, inspiring.

♥ my diary♥ said...

nice post thanks for sharing...blessings soraya

Emily said...

What a wonderful story! I'm glad she was there with the encouragement you needed. Lovely!

Rita said...

What a way to start off my Sat morning! Your stories of the nursing home are always so inspiring and this one did the job! I've missed reading all your stories.

Arlee Bird said...

What an inspiration Margie is! I like TGFM better than TGIF--I never was a sort of person who lived for the weekend anyway. Well, other than when I was in high school perhaps.

I enjoyed this story, Doris.

Wrote By Rote

La Petite Gallery said...

Great stories, I am joining
your followers. come visit me.

My Mom passed away of Alzheimers. God let me go in my sleep.


A Plain Observer said...

Her memory was gone but her ability to know people and find the good ones is still very acute.

Terrie said...

Thank you for sharing that...those are the precious moments in life...I am a social work student at a personal care home and I love those residents...how can you not help it...

Anonymous said...

Love to you for Sharing about this sweet loving lady.
The memory is dying gradually but the spiritwith in never dies. Gods love has remained. Amen.