Wednesday, September 04, 2019
I visited my elderly sister who’s in nursing care at a resident facility. She was in bed but awake and doing her usual thing, watching old movies on television, and was happy to see me. I’d not visited for several weeks, but had discussed by phone, with the Hospice social worker on her care team, my sister’s physical and mental conditions and her needs.
My sister greeted me with a description of the movie she was watching, ticking off its cast, key points, and why she did or didn’t like it. She still remembers almost every movie she ever saw, recalls many of their script lines. As to her own realities, she’s a little fuzzy. Says that recently she hurt her leg badly by falling down the stairs. To my astonishment as to when and where, she said she’d fallen right here where she lives. She added that she had remained in the facility, for care to heal her leg, but afterwards and not knowing where to go continued living in this place.
That’s a new twist on her fantasies about why and how her life had changed, from total independence to high dependence, and revealed some of her current confusion. I asked how she fell down stairs in a building without stairs. She squinched her eyes, thought hard, and shook off the question. “Doesn’t matter where it happened.” End of topic. In earlier times, she’d have conjured a rapid response that, to her, would satisfy a listener.
Her thin arms are skin hanging on bone. She seems rested, relatively happy, says she spends most of her time in bed. She’s grateful for television, and 24/7 watches old movies that she’s seen many times. It’s probably comforting to repeat the understandable and predictable rather than face current movies, new ideas, and heaven forbid, daily world news. She says the world needs another major war to reduce overcrowding, the source of all current issues, and she’s fixated on Hitler, can rattle on about his smarts and foresightedness. Neither her caretakers nor I understand, but we listen and tolerate. The upshot is that now my sister also describes how close she feels to the staff, those who’ve been there longest taking care of her. She’s different from anytime in my life, now explaining the comfort she feels from caring relationships.
She’s a tough cookie who at 88 years old remains a force to reckon with–opinionated, idealistic, self-centered, articulate. At her prime, she often misdirected her great energy, but was creative and an accomplisher. Unfortunately, as a loner and unable to collaborate, she couldn’t participate with what she could bring to a team. Otherwise, she’d have contributed much, artistically and concretely.
Dear Friends: My big sister, a major force in my life. I love her. Diana