In the summer of 2016 I spent 6 weeks in a care facility following surgery on a multiple leg fracture. Six long weeks. Six weeks when I wondered what ever would become of me, six long weeks when I had time to contemplate what might lie ahead should I need care that could not be given by my family. Here I observed daily life in a rural nursing home/ care facility populated by elderly who were cared for by enthusiastic young girls and men, and by mostly Phillipino and immigrant nurses. These are my thoughts on those surreal weeks.
Anastasia and Old Nick.
Anastasia was a truly lovely lady. She was here on a voluntary basis, had settled into her new home and was very content. She was shrewdly observant and made her way to the so called Library after tea each evening where she held court! She was very proud of the fact that her parents were of a mixed marriage but that her father had insisted the children were all raised Roman Catholics.
She was one of many I met in here who was happy with her lot, content to be someplace where her needs were seen to, where she did not have to worry about looking after herself, about shopping for meals, about doctor appointments, about taking her medicines at the correct times. I do not recall her having had any visitors when I was there. Perhaps she had no immediate family nearby.
She usually announced her arrival in the ‘library’ with the immortal words: ‘Do you believe’? My standard reply was ‘In what? ‘, ‘In ‘Old Nick’ of course’ she would answer. ‘And who on earth is Old Nick?’ I would ask, knowing full well what she meant. ‘Old Nick is the Devil himself ‘ she said and ‘If you don’t believe in him, he will come to get you’.
Anastasia felt especially safe in her bed at night as a priest had been the previous occupant. He had been given the Last Rites and died in that bed that was now hers. ‘Can you imagine the prayers that were said in that bed’ she would say? Old Nick would not dare go near her there!
Every night after my first meeting with Anastasia I wondered who had occupied this bed that was now mine, hopefully temporarily. How many had slept here? Had they died? Had they been anointed? And how many were priests?
I will be glad to get back to my own bed, that I have owned from new and that has not been an anointed death bed.
I need to get out of here!