The Conversation

Cindy's Stories
Stories About People from 2008 Pages

This entry is for Friday. On Fridays we go to the laundromat after work, then go out to eat. The interesting thing about going to a laundromat is that it gives us extra time together. We have done this task together many, it seems like millions, of times. Last night it was dark when we got home from eating out. We did not take pictures of home construction, we were not even sure what had been done that day. We did know our primroses were blooming, amidst the hustle and bustle of construction.

In lieu of construction pictures for Friday, I will tell you about a young woman in her late 20s who lived in a nursing home. She had cerebral palsy and shared a room with a lady in her 80s. Surprisingly, the young woman said she wanted a room of her own, a place to be herself, a place for sex and love, a place to be young, normal, and real. I took her at her word.

I told her I believed she did want a room of her own but that I could not lie— rooms of one's own are hard to come by when you are disabled. I told her she would have to work hard to get her own room, that our society has strict limits on who is allowed to have their own room.

I told the young woman I could promise nothing about the outcome of trying to get out of a nursing home, because I did not know if it was possible for her. I did promise it would cost her, it would take a great deal of energy and hard work to strengthen her lower body, to learn to move without the assist of a mechanical lift device. I promised her it would take a long time and it would take lots of paperwork. She smiled. She knew what I said was true. She had experienced the reality of time lost and paperwork before, but she was not sure anyone had ever told her so clearly that there was no guaranteed gain. Even so, she said she was game.

I dragged a nursing home social worker into the conversation. The social worker, young woman and I came up with some plans. After that meeting I met with the social worker alone. She was surprised I was taking this woman at her word; the young woman had failed so many times before, why would one want to try again? I wanted to cry. For God's sake, what are we here for? We talked and she did note some differences in the young lady this time, she did agree to proceed with our plans.

I do not easily take what clients tell me at face value, I am not a pushover. I have learned to be really strict with people who make me scared, and with people who have no dreams. I have also learned that people who giggle when I tell them how hard they will have to work and who have dreams, big dreams of being treated like they are normal and of someday feeling like their presence in this world is not some God-awful mistake, should be given the opportunity to hear the truth. I believe they should be given opportunity, period. As a social worker I look for resources for people, I knock on doors. If a door does not budge but feels like there might really be help on the other side, I bang on it with my fists. Sometimes it opens a crack, and then I stick my foot in. That's really all that's needed, a foot in the door, the opportunity to tell someone's story, tell of the dream. It takes a lot of energy to bang on doors, to fight for people others think should be given up on. It makes me tired, but I have not yet learned to give up.

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
รณ Luke 11:9-10 (King James Version)

A quick, somewhat amusing vignette to end the week in order to justify the obscene picture to the left... So, a guy is talking to me for the very first time, telling me woes and angst related to being alive, when he says "shit", which he very quickly follows with "excuse my French!", since I appear presentable in a social way. What would be your response? Lord, I don't ever know what mine will be, but this time I simply said, "Oh. You must not have noticed my last name, Jardot- the French is fine with me." Whatever, hooray for the weekend we are now in the midst of. Later, man. Oh yeah, click on the comedian being obscene to see a place my family might have known of at one time.

Where's the orchestra? Wasn't this supposed to be a musical?
Here I am...
In the balcony,
How the hell could I have missed the overture?
I like the scenery
Even though, I have absolutely no...idea at all,
What is being said, despite the dialogue,
There's the leading man
The movie star who never faced an audience
Where's the orchestra?
After all, this is my big night on the town
My introduction to the theatre crowd
I assumed that the show would have a song
So I was wrong
At least I understand
All the innuendo and the irony
And I appreciate,
The roles the actors played
The point the author made
And after the closing lines,
And after the curtain calls,
The curtain falls...
On empty chairs.
Where's the orchestra?
- Billy Joel - Where's The Orchestra?

"Where's Cindy? I want to see her." I recognize the voice, I've heard it on the phone a few times. I wonder what the person attached to it looks like and find he looks like hundreds of other men in their 80s on electric scooters. I sneak behind him, touch his shoulder, ask him to guess who it is. His wife smiles up at me and he knows who it is. Come on back.

We squeeze into the small office and I barely sit down. "We appreciate your time and all your help. We've got things to talk about." I start to listen but find there is a paper being handed me. Okay, an ER report, something about the wife straining her back, sent for scans: multiple areas of tumors… I begin thinking about the ramifications, how to get ready for more than had been bargained for, get ready for one of those things that changes everything else. Wait, what's this? This is from 3 months ago? "Yes, but I couldn't stop to take care of myself, he needs me. I had to take care of him first." Sigh. I wonder aloud how one takes care of another if they are no longer alive.

"We've been married more than 30 years, we just want to be together." The tears get wiped away momentarily. Fuck. They look at each other, we do some problem solving, discuss possibilities for getting care, for giving the caregiver, whoever that is, a break. "I'll do what needs to be done, she has to get this taken care of, I need her, I just want to be with her." "Yes, we just want to be together. I need to take care of him and he needs me." "I love her. I don't want to lose her." Our eyes meet and I say the words we already know to be all too true. And this is what life comes to. He shakes his head yes, they look at each other. This is what life comes to, we cannot escape the loss of each other.

I call the house again, trying to keep track, get what help there is for them. "Thank you, you have helped us so much." I've got a lot of people I work with. "I know, thank you for checking on us, thank you for helping us." You're on my short list. The chuckle acknowledges the truth, my list of work is almost limitless, they know they are on my short list, and this gives them comfort. They have come to what life brings, life's short list, and mine.

How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.— Einstein


Music: Click on the Licking Lips
India Arie,

Page Created September 2008

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