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Friday, June 17, 2016

RETRACING MY STEPS


I know I’m getting old, but why do I have to prove it all the time?

When I got the news that my daughter was leaving the rehab center in Southampton, I decided I would go back again because I needed to. I’ll get to that need later here.

It was a week since my daughter Ellen left the rehab center when I entered, filled with confidence that I knew where I was going. I drive up the long entryway and start searching for a parking spot since it is so difficult to find one during the week. As luck would have it, there was one, the best spot in the lot, and I had it! Feeling like George Costanza of Seinfeld when he visited the hospital one day! I sign in, say Hello to the receptionist, who asks me how Ellen is doing and off I go to the elevators, I enter and look for the 2nd-floor button, the doors close, and the elevator moves.

The ride from the 1st floor to the second floor seemed kind of quick but my mind was elsewhere when the doors opened. I go the usual route to where I needed to go and start to search for Stephany, the lady I was visiting. As I search, the hallway and the set-up seems somewhat disjointed. I get to a set of doors that are locked and a nurse tells me the code. A code I think is strange, I never had to use a code on double doors before!

I get through the doors and search some more, looking for the dining room. There is no dining room! In fact: the place seems darker, surreal almost, no dining room, my daughter’s room is not numbered correctly, and the nurse, with a quizzical look on her face asks me who I’m looking for. AS for me, I thought I had a major senior moment, maybe little dementia, maybe Alzheimer’s disease, I was suddenly scared!

“I’m looking for Stephanie Doe”, I state.
Her face crunches and she says “What section is she in?”
Confidently I state: “Section G!”
The quizzical look start to disappear and she says: “this is section C! You, sir, are on the wrong floor, you need to go up to the second floor.”
“Huh! I’m on the second floor!”

And so gratefully I went back to the elevators, punched the #2 button, watched it light up and checked the wall that indeed I was now on the 2nd floor when the doors opened!

The lady I was visiting wasn’t expecting me. I had notified the nurses station the day before that I was coming to read to Stephanie. A middle-aged woman who sits very silently in her wheelchair all day, never leaving the floor and never having visitors. She has suffered some kind of brain trauma and has difficulty remembering words to use in her sentences, while missing her lower legs from the knees down.

When I told her I was coming back to read to her, she broke down in tears, reaching for my hand and saying: “You will do that for me?”

Finally finding her, I say hello and she is startled! She breaks into tears once again and I ask her if she thought I was not coming back to see her: she shakes her head ‘yes’. The tears are flowing and it makes me uncomfortable, but we find a place to read and she settles in.

The reading session was a great one, a short story by Pushkin, entitled the Ace of Spades. Stephanie seemed caught in the story, her face telling all the emotions and events as they pertained to the story, Pushkin was a genius!

Leaving the rehab center I still had my mind, and I still had my soul, my word was worthy of someone who thought no one cared when in fact I am blocking out Wednesdays from here on in for Ms. Stephanie.


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