Thursday was my drop-dead date to deliver some cabinet doors I was painting for my friend Wendy. She started out as my client at least eight years ago, but we soon realized that we had to be friends. We had too many issues in common, apparently. Wendy and her husband own a nursing home in Seguin. Let me rephrase that. It is Nesbit Living & Recovery Center.
The reason I'm being asked to paint stuff for her nursing home is because Nesbit LRC is in the midst of a huge renovation that I must say has actually impressed me. And I'm a tough customer because I've had an aversion to nursing homes going waaaay back. Am I alone in this? By this point I'm sure you're wondering where is she going with this rambling blog (or perhaps you're used to it). On Thursday I decided it would be smart to deliver the doors, have them installed on the entertainment cabinet, and then put the final antiquing stain on them while they were hanging. Much easier for me, and much less likely that I would screw them up in transit.
Sounds like a pretty boring story, huh? Well, actually no. Wendy and I decided to go to lunch first. This required me to dress presentably for the first time in weeks, so I wore my trusty uniform CAbi skirt in a jungle print. For my top I wore a faded, brown Old Navy t-shirt, thinking it wouldn't be any big deal if I got stain on it. So I'm walking down the hallway to the Recreation Room where my cabinet was. I zipped by a poor older resident once or twice, walking fast and erratic like I alwasy do. All the while this poor little lady (or so I would assume, not knowing) is oonching herself down the hallway in her wheel chair because, heck, she doesn't have anything better to do. And I SWEAR TO YOU she mumbled under her breath that my skirt was TOO SHORT!
Except you know how older women never mumbled anything. You can always hear it just fine. I have to admit, it is too short. I mean really, I am almost 44. My grandmother would have said the same thing. It was hilarious. And I smiled. It made me think of my Mama.
Ok, as if that's not enough to have made my day, that's only the first thing. I started staining and antiquing and this precious woman came in for what I learned were scheduled domino games. She watched me for a long time and then walked over to me. "This is your calling," she said, as a statement of fact. Wow! I immediately recognized her as a messenger. "Yes, ma'am," I said. "It is. And it doesn't even feel like work." She just smiled, knowingly, and went to find her seat.
Another lady was sitting at a domino table, just waiting for some other players to come join her. She told me she was a pretty fierce player. I asked her if she takes all their money. She said "oh they don't let me have any money." I thought that was too bad. She would probably be able to really supplement her Social Security income if they'd let her gamble every now and again.
So I kept on and the games got going. The entire room filled up. Two ladies, one of which was a little combative, got a little testy, and was told she'd have to leave. It reminded me of someone who got kicked out of a bar one time in Mexico. I wondered if I'll get kicked out of the domino games when I'm an old lady.
All the while, I was pondering that maybe getting old and going to the nursing home is only the worst thing that can happen to you if that's what you think is the worst thing that can happen to you. Like every other aspect of life, it's all how you look at it. I got to thinking about my grandmother, who was a social butterfly and wasn't ever overjoyed to be a housewife way out on a farm in the country. We thought she lived in paradise and led the perfect life, but I think she found it unglamorous and lonely. She loved to go to town, shop, and go with her friend Bonnie for a "cup of coffee and piece of pie." I think she might have liked the nursing home if she had lived long enough to go there.
Well if that wasn't enough, then a group of kids from Vacation Bible School at Faith Lutheran Church came in to sing some songs about God. I was thinking: "what more can happen to make this a wonderful day?" And I had been hoping to sneak in, do my thing, and get out of there as fast as possible. Ha!
Back to what Wendy and her husband David are doing at Nesbit LRC. This is one of the room numbers. Wendy has really gone above and beyond to make it homey and beautiful, transforming what had been institutional and sterile in 1990s pinks and mauves. If a nursing home can look more like a resort, this one is well on its way, with warm, earthy colors and beautiful artwork. All I'm saying is if I have to go one day, just take me there. But I may just have to sneak in some money for the domino and card games...