I found myself watching the staff while visiting Mom at the nursing home last week. I was impressed. I saw the animated raised-voice cheeriness one associates with care for the very young or very elderly (where simplified games of bowling or keeping a balloon ball aloft or folding things are hurrahed as amazing fun), but it was more than that. A spirit of genuine kindness seemed the ethos of the Home itself.
My sister, food services supervisor there, told me that the staff like Mom.
That felt good. Whether entrusting our kid to teachers or parent to carers, we want, more than anything else, I think, those people to understand — “get” — our loved one’s personality and needs and “like” them anyway. (Even more than we do some days.)
The activity director stopped by as Mom and I coloured together. She said Mom was a “gift.” Mom lifted her head. The director elaborated: her contentment, wisdom. Somehow she’d glimpsed the latter through my mother’s fog.
I asked the woman if she was scared to get old. She said No, because of her experiences working in the Home.
“There’s no judgment from these residents.”
Another staff person, who came by to toilet Mom, told me she loves working with seniors. Because of their stories, she said.
“But you’re not getting many stories on this side, are you?” (Mom’s in the dementia and Alzheimer’s wing).
“I feel like a different person here,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“I can really be myself. There’s no judgment from these residents.”
Wow, to both these women. Maybe kindness grows from looking for and receiving gifts, whichever way they come.
P.S. I was doubly grateful for Mom’s carers when I saw news reports that evening on rising senior abuse in Canada.