Elinore pushed her walker to the table and slowly settled into one of the chairs. “So, are we playing cards or dominos?”
Elinore nodded and picked up the cards. “I’ve been here for over a year now.”
Here was the nursing home where we sat. I was a visitor with a chip on my shoulder. Nursing homes were necessary evil – no more.
“I put myself in,” Elinore said. “I had fallen again, in my apartment, and came in for a couple of months. For therapy. Then I went back to my apartment and I fell again. That was enough for me. I decided I’d rather live here.”
Rather? I leaned forward. “So you left your own apartment?”
“Oh, yeah,” she said, sliding the deck of cards against the card shuffler so she could pick them up. “I just couldn’t be falling all the time. They cook for me here. And they have a lot of things going on.”
To choose between cards or dominos? I wasn’t sure I approved.
“Don!” She pointed the top of her head at an elderly man shuffling past the table. “Don, you should join us. You like cards, don’t you?”
Don ignored her but Elinore didn’t stop. “Oh, come on, Don. This would be good for you.”
He stopped, raised his eyes to meet hers, and then grunted. “Ok.”
“So, Don, did your daughter come today?” Elinore said.
“Well, that’s a shame. But you can have some fun with us.” She dropped the cards in the shuffler and pushed the button. “I can’t shuffle anymore.”
Shortly, she had invited Clara and Martha to join her, too.
They were still chatting and playing cards an hour later when I left. As I stood, the four wished me a good evening.
Maybe nursing homes were evil. Maybe not. But these residents found a way to care for one another and Elinore led the way.