Tweetie, tweetie

SeasonsI sat at the table in the lobby just to wait until my mother was dressed and ready to leave her room.

But Doris clicked her tongue at me and grinned widely. “Sweetie,” she said. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” I said. “How are you?” It’s hard to know what to say to the residents of the nursing home.

“I’m all right. Could you tell me what day it is?”

“It’s Saturday. A beautiful day today. The storm has moved on and it’s lovely out there. Have you been outside today?”

She shook her head. “No. I don’t go outside.” She smiled at me again. “But I like robins. Tweetie, tweetie.”

Well, yes. What to say now?

“I like robins, too. When I see a robin, I know it’s spring.” Couldn’t I come up with better than this? I glanced at the clock on the wall. Mom wasn’t ready yet.

“Yes,” Doris nodded. “Tick tock.” She’d seen me look at the clock. “Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock. The clock struck one, the mouse ran down.”

She winked at me then. “Hickory, dickory, dock.”

“Oh, I haven’t heard that song in a long time. I used to sing that with my kids.”

“Excuse me,” she said, “but could you tell me what day it is?”

“Saturday.” How did I talk to a resident? What could I say to brighten her day?

“Thank you.” She looked down the hallway. “Do you live here?”elder hands

“No.”

She nodded again and studied the hallway. A big smile crept across her face. “Could you tell me what day it is?”

“Saturday.” I heard the door to my mother’s room open and I got to my feet. “I’ll go now. I think my mother’s ready.”

Doris gave me another wide grin. “Thank you so much for visiting with me this morning. So special, sweetie.”

And that’s how you talk to residents at a nursing home. With patience, kindness, and presence.

 

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