The patient is living with her house-mates, in a secure, big, fancy yellow house.
The care-givers are mostly from Africa, kind, tough, passionate and greeting each other with hugs and kisses.
Danny, the cat, is keeping calm in the chaotic house as an under-cover healer.
The occupants, those who cannot walk, collectively sitting in a room watching sitcoms. Nobody is laughing.
Mornings are the best of times. After a good rest, breakfast, fresh drugs and everyone is dozing off.
Worst of times are around 4 PM. The ghost of fear and anxiety awakens everyone.
The house-mates all have their own unique reaction. Some fighting their reality, some creating their own, some have surrendered and some have already checked out, occasionally visiting their feeble bodies for food and medication.
There is the woman with a dark hair and piercing eyes whose mission is to close all the open doors all day long. Yet never seen at the dining table.
The fragile woman sitting crooked in her wheel chair, amazingly eating her food on her own like a little bird. When nobody is around, she is chewing on her tiny pillow (her back support) to keep nurtured.
Around 4 PM, the white-haired woman with puffy green eyes screaming loudly “Take me home. They are waiting for me”, can be heard in every corner of big yellow house. It takes 20 minutes to have medication kick in.
The patient, agitated by all the noise and screams. Saying, “Enough is enough. Don’t they understand how to be quiet?”. Calmed down only by smile and touches of her caregivers.
Nancy, soft spoken angel like face who sits quietly in her wheel chair for hours. Softly arguing, “I ate too much at breakfast, I cannot eat now”.
The younger guy who still is fighting the system, pacing back and forth from his dinner table to the phone on the wall next to the elevator. Pressing some buttons on the phone, but nobody is answering on the other end. Disappointed, he leaves the phone off the hook and walks back to table to have a bite of food and try calling again.
The old man, frozen like a tall statue, in a wheel chair, must be well-to-do, mostly with a private nurse. Following the orders: open your mouth, chew, stay here. Hearing the nurse complementing him, “you eat well.”
The scary big man, on a walker, screaming “Please pray. Pray for my sister, she is not well; they took her to hospital”. Perhaps he is referring to his house-mate who ambulance took earlier that morning. Not clear if she is his sister or not.
The caregivers, trying to be strong and patient. Repeating words like, “sit please”, “come here”, “do you want a cookie?”
The old man, telling his new visitor that he likes it here. Stating that he only stays here on weekdays. The new visitor grins as he looks away.
The old woman, smiling back at the stranger when he smiled at her. Thinking for a moment that perhaps she is not forgotten after all.
The patient hugging the smiling caregiver, putting her head over care-giver’s chest like a child who just found her lost mother, and does not want to let go of her mother. After a while, on separation, they look at each other and tell each other “I love you.”
The woman in a wheel chair, in her large private suite, with picture of many smiling family members on her door, using her legs to move around the corridors in her wheelchair. It does not seem she has found what she was looking for yet.
The patient, pointing at the younger caregiver in the hallway, saying with an accent “you are my daughter”. Care giver smiles and replies, “you are my mama.”
All the man and woman, once were powerful mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, brothers or sisters. Now they are in a different world and reality. No matter how scary it may seem, at least it is safest and most predicable part of their lives. The community, the occasional visitors with their latte, the regular cookies to calm nerves, occasional hugs and kisses, the 4 PM screams and the familiar blank faces.
Copyright @ 2017 by Shervin Hojat