The Caregiver

caregiver

 

 
I worked in two different nursing homes during age16 through 22 and they both left many lasting impressions on me. I started out in the kitchen but quickly found myself on the floor flirting with the nurses and the aides, which earned me jobs like vacuuming and helping wherever. I did any shit work the nurses could find for me, like helping with enema’s. That wasn’t the end of the shit either. I was given caretaker charge of a man confined to a wheelchair who had a severe stroke. Bathed him, shaved him, and dressed him. He was young enough to be embarrassed having female aides do the chores so I became the best part of his morning when I worked that shift.

 
Archaic living statues
Wearing ancient masks
Reflective and forlorn
Performing aimless tasks
Not conscious of the world
But conscious of their fate
They have nothing to do
So they wait
Its all they do
All night, all day
Its all they have left
Even the memories begin to fade
The tears they paid
So they wait
They wait for me
The caregiver
For sustenance
For medication
They praise my dedication
All they have left is to wait
To be told what to do
They wait for me, caregiver
The one who holds their heart together
Informs them of the weather
They wait for me forever
Sometimes I come in the morn
Wake them from their sleeps
Change the wet sheets
Dress them for the day
Give them their pills
Chase their blues away
The way in which we planned
Breakfast tray in hand
Sometimes I come in the afternoon
Put on their favorite show
Just let them know
Someone cares
Then I wait to go home
To a life so removed
From the pain and the heartache
Of the aging machine
The horrors I’ve seen
Time can be so mean
Memories broken like in a dream
These grand folks I cherished
I watch as they perish
But each day I come back for a little while
Covering profound sadness with a smile
Knowing what’s on their minds
Though they really can’t define
They just wait
But its not the food, medicine or even me they sit in anticipation of
They’re waiting to die
And that makes me cry

 

The nurses told us not to get emotionally attached to the patients but we had so many favorites, cute old people who were left up to our care because fore the most part their families abandoned them. I was struck by how much they looked forward to our shifts as though they were visits, how we brightened what little life still sparkled behind their eyes, and I realized we were more than caretakers of their health, we were caretakers of their hearts. Ironically they in turn helped to fill our hearts up with love and gratitude. It was like having 20 of my grandma’s back, and I would give anything for just one more day with my Grandma. I would be happy to be her caregiver.

How Ya Gonna Keep Em Down On The Farm After They’ve Cooked Puree

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the continuing adventures of J T Hilltop’s Potsink Diary
From pots and pans to rakes and snakes I took to landscaping fairly well. Sun burnt arms instead of grease burnt arms, just as hot as a kitchen, and about as physically as taxing yet still I missed cooking. It‘s been three months since the restaurant closed and fate stuck its fickle finger in my life interrupted my path to culinary enlightenment. Leaving me to care for the property of a nursing home and placing me every day at lunch just outside of the kitchen where the sounds of culinary exploits pounded out a rhythm of longing. It stirred inside of me making me miss working in a kitchen with all my soul. Aware of that fate wasn’t done tossing curve balls at my life because on one Monday I learned just what a practical joker fate can really be. Apparently destiny is equipped with a bag full of tricks containing an abyss of irony and has a knack for playing emotional table tennis with me. Like a ping pong ball I got paddled back and forth hard forcing me out of the restaurant across the net to a field of hard labor, then smashed back into another kitchen. Fred had driven me to Mimi Dee’s early in the morning to manicure the lawn while he ran about town “performing” some chores. Popular belief growing on the rumor vine claimed those chores he performed were for one of the nurses at the Huntersville location. Whatev, not my business and besides it was fine by me as it left me alone to work the property at my own pace.
Left to my resources, my new tools of the trade, and a cheap lawnmower I set out to give the yard a neat trimming and edging. A mani-pedi for the acreages of land. An hour and a half into my solo performance was the moment fate chose to sneak an ominous looking dark cumulo nimbus cloud slithering across the horizon setting up cloud camp above my head. One loud crack of sneering thunder and a few seconds later I was the focus of a drenching downpour. Not a dipping of the toe in the pool, but one soaked to the bone bucket full of rainwater followed by another. The skies blushed dark crimson as if foretelling the twisted new path fate had in store. Having become somewhat intimate with fates and destinies I had to assume that this new path would be lined with irony. “Jesus Christ this shit’s really coming down. Can’t get anything more done here so I guess I should go inside.” I mumbled it to myself to validate it was proper for me to stop work an seek shelter. As soon as I entered the back door a very familiar sense filled the room. The clanging of pots and pans as they jockeyed for position on the stove, plates chattering while being pulled and stacked from the dishwasher, and a general sense of culinary atmosphere called me by name. A private culinary symphony all for me supplied by that devious enigma called fate. The air was full with the smells of a variety of meats and vegetables with wafts of consommé memories from a large pot of chicken infused liquid hoping to one day soon become a soup. The smells and sounds were the familiar frantic state of culinary urgency shortly before service. The aura of intense pressure was reminiscent of Cavalieri’s restaurant, my one time Mecca. It was crunch time even in this institutional kitchen and I was so taken aback by my memories I shook off the rain and blurted out to the Nurse in charge of the kitchen, “Can I help? I know a bit about food.” Without a smile a very attractive Jamaican woman in a not very sexy nurses uniform yelled “I need zeese onions peeled and cut, tink you could a’handle dat?” Nary a word more need be spoken as I rushed over to the table with the onions, grabbed a familiar feeling knife and pulled out a cutting board. In a matter of minutes I had peeled, cored, and diced the onions. “What else do you need?” The Nurse stopped in mid stride and asked “You gotta all dem onions done?” I could tell she was doubting me so I held them up and said “Yup, where do you want them?” She smiled at me with a huge open mouth and I noticed a small gap in her front teeth. Suddenly something seemed more sexy about her despite the uniform. As I looked closer I realized the uniform fit pretty tight allowing me a gratuitous view of her shape. She was in her late twenties or early thirties, slender and very pretty with firm looking curves in all the right places. Her skin was smooth and silky with an exotic ebony glow. She looked at me approvingly with dark brown eyes that twinkled sweetly in contrast to the sharp authority she normally displayed on the staff. “Put day inna pot dare witt dee carrots.” When I asked her if she wanted a mirepoix I thought she was gonna run over and kiss me full on the lips. Maybe I hoped she would but either way she flashed me that huge tiny tooth gapped smile. “You do know your way round de kitchen. My name is Margie and yes, I needa celery in dare too. Tink you canna hanel dat?” Time to respond with my innuendo laced charm, “I can handle whatever you got Margie. My name is JT.” She teased back, “Zhay Tee huh? What kina name is dot, can‘t afford whole name? ” It was feeling good, cooking and flirting again, “My real name is Justin, but my friends call me JT because I am Just Thrilling to be with. It seems we are friends now so I guess you should call me JT.” “Yes indeed it do Mr. Trilling. I tink maybe we work well togetter.” She punctuated her statement with a suggestively tender wink. I won’t tell you my thoughts at that moment but they would make a beet blush. It felt great as I assisted Margie in the kitchen getting lunch together quickly and efficiently while the rain continued to pound on the back door just begging to come in for a visit. I smiled at how great it was to be back in a kitchen cooking and flirting again.
After lunch I helped clean up then went outside to put away the tools I had abandoned in the storm since the rain ended as abruptly as it had begun. As I was surveying the yard deciding what else I could do before Fred got back when I heard someone yelling my name. Margie was calling me from the front door of the mansion. When I got there she smiled a huge smile saying to me “I got some good news for you Zhay. I jus talk ‘a Misser Viero an him say you canna work here wit us inna de kitchen and aroun’ de home full time. We canna use the help and you no have to work inna da rain no more. What jew tink Jussa trilling?” There it was. Right there fate dangled its fickle tickle of decision in front of me chuckling at what ominous repercussions would come of my choice. But was it a choice or had fate already made up my mind for me? If I say I would love to Fred will be mad but if I say no I will be saying no to old man Viero and who says no to an owner? Yes also means no more shit spreading, being back in a kitchen, and the chance to do some more serious flirting. Round the clock nurses aides as well as a kitchen job. It really had felt awesome working in the kitchen with Margie. I could definitely see myself working with her and her crew of nurses. Not to mention all the young chicks who help her which I would be working with. Okay, go ahead and mention it I know I will. True I have a steady girlfriend and all, but like my Mom says, “You can look at the menu as long as you remember what your entrée is.” Not sure exactly what she meant but give her credit for trying to speak restaurantese to me. Decision was made while fate laughed. “I think I would really like that Margie, when can I start?” She looked as excited as I was and told me I should finish out the week with Fred and start next Monday. Once school starts we will work out a weekend and afternoon schedule. My new job would be to maintain the inside of the home, help in the kitchen and whatever assistance the nurses may need. All in all it seemed like it was nothing but gold, at least until I learned what new adventures were in store for me. I neglected to remind myself that things were not always what they seemed but that’s okay, I would find out in good time what new tricks fate had in store for me to tickle its devilish funny bone. As intimate as I thought I was with fate I never realized it was planning to teach me about some new adventures which would include urine stains and enema’s. I still had a lot to learn.
TBC

Reeling In The Years

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That’s right, reeling. Reeling And a rocking, rolling till the break of dawn. That’s me! Actually its more like creaking and a cracking, falling till the break of bones. WTF? What’s happening to my body, when did all this shit all sneak up on me? Many words and phrases seemed innocuous but these days when I hear dig it I have grave concern. Buried in my work, quite an undertaking, dying to go there, drop dead gorgeous, all common phrases which now give me pause. But don’t pause too long, pour yourself a stiff one! Here’s what started this gloomy thought process. A snot nosed brat said scuse me gramps the other day and I was pissed. I was like who the Hell does that little jerk think he’s calling Gramps? But then I remembered…. I am a Gramps. I’m a fucking granpa! I have grandkids??!! How? When? Not possible! I still like to rock an roll, I’m just as fit as I used to be. Okay maybe not as fit, but my clothes still fit. Okay, maybe I have grown a few sizes and had to buy bigger belts and shit, but I can still rock and roll all night and party every day. So long as all night ends by midnight and partying every day begins sometime after five. Holy shit man, WTF has happened?
Its called the declining years for a reason. Everything declines downhill. It sneaks up on you, hitting your legs first. One day I’m running to catch the bus and an going slower than I should. When I just barely make it I think, Goddamn I’m out of breath. And my thighs and knees hurt. It was a struggle to chase the damn bus. Shake it off, its nothing, must be the weather. Its raining after all, and the rain does weird things to peoples bones. Yea, that’s it, the rain. With a sense of relief I wipe my face dry when something else occurs to me. There isn’t nearly as much hair to dry! WTF? When did my hair get so thin? And how did my forehead grow so big? It goes up so high I can’t see where t my temples are. Its like one big mass of lumpy hairless scalp halfway up my head!. OY, the decline is starting.
Then one day my indigestion seems harsher than normal. Wait, What?? Normal? WTF? When did indigestion become a normal occurrence for me? And now I have a baseline to follow? What happened? Here’s what happened, my digestive system has been working overtime for years, battling all the beer, wine and booze, chips, fried food, Mexican foods, Thai foods, donuts, cupcakes (shameless plug), an every other substance I carelessly forced down my intestinal tracts. Years of hard work!! And now its pissed off. My intestines are mad as Hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore. Time for some gastro-intestinal karma, exacting some revenge via my stomach. Best served cold means swallowing Zantac with cold water, and chewing Rolaids like candy on a daily basis. Too late for apologizing to the stomach, the damage is done. Apparently drinking lots of milk to line the stomach before an evening of heavy drinking was bullshit, and my stomach is liver. I mean livid!
Hair falling out, running ability compromised, and now daily stomach issues. How much worse can it get? Okay, time to go to CVS and find something that will slow down this aging process. Here we go, aisle 6. I grab a box of Lifetime Youth Glow something or other. Lets see what’s in here. WTF? Why did they make the lettering so small and blurry? Maybe if I put it a bit closer. Nope. Maybe under the light? Nope! I pick up the box next to it and can’t read that either. WTF has happened to my eyes? The writings not smaller my eyes have gotten cloudy. I look across to aisle 10 where they have a rack of cheater reading glasses. That’s it, that’s all I need, a pair of magnifying glasses so I can read the small writing. I’ll start with something low, like 1.25, that’s the lowest. They don’t look horrible and if I only need them for reading then these should be all right. Where’s the chart? WTF? The chart is blurry too? 1.50. Better, but maybe 1.75, perfect. Jeez Louize, 1.75? Whatever. Two weeks later I’m back looking at the 200+ with a case because I need to bring the fucking things with me everywhere I go. WTF?
I said to Maureen, “could this get any worse?” She didn’t answer. A bit louder, “Can this get any worse?” Come on now, I need someone to make me feel not old, so one more time this time real loud, “CAN IT GET ANY WORSE?” My answer? “For the third time! What the fuck are you talking about?” OMFG! My hearing now? Did I really not hear her the first two times? Maybe she was speaking away from me? Yea, that’s it, it’s the acoustics! I didn’t hear because she didn’t project AT me. But I bought some extra Q Tips just in case. Now if I can only remember where they are.
Yea right! Remember! That’s on the way out too. Hell I can remember an incident back 5 years ago pretty well but don’t ask me what I had for dinner last night, cuz I don’t remember. Dude Where’s My Car has become my reality. Let me review, instead of rolling joints my joints ache, and creak, and snap crackle pop. My skin isn’t tight enough to fit my body and it leaves wrinkles no iron can flatten out. The only thing that gets wasted anymore is my waistline and even with a belt nothing fits right anymore. I need to plan any road trips around bathrooms because while my bladder hasn’t physically shrunk it seems to get much more impatient and desperate than it used too. I can’t see or hear good but that doesn’t matter because I wouldn’t remember what I saw or heard anyway. I don’t go out but my back does and by the time the last candle on my birthday cake is lit the first one is a blob of melted wax. Shit man if I do eat the cake I get indigestion, which has a baseline. Speaking of bass lines, music that used to be classic rock is now golden oldies and golden oldies are now Fossil Rock. Does aging gracefully mean I don‘t pee when I sneeze so I don‘t really need a diaper? Depends!
Whatever, the big-bottom line is I am getting really concerned about all this because there’s only two things I can think of left to lose, sex and sanity. If worse comes to worst a little pill from the Doc will solidify one problem, that won’t be hard, er, well, yes it will be hard but it won’t be…. you know what I mean! At this point I need to worry more about dementia, about becoming senile. I can fix the penile but senile is another story. I know what senile is, I worked in a Nursing Home for many years and I witnessed a lot of senile patients. Wandering around not knowing where they’re going or why, stopping and talking about random things then forgetting what they were saying, concerned only about what’s for dinner. I can only assume senility is the next step. That sux! …..Or does it? Now that I think about it, those patients were happy walking around doing the Thorazine Shuffle like they were so stoned they didn’t know where they were. Is that senility? Totally stoned all the time, worrying about nothing but what’s to eat, and not being accountable for my actions? Kinda like the old days when we smoked weed by the ounce then went to 7-11. Not feeling quite so bad now, pills to keep me digesting, pills to keep me going, pills to keep me up, maybe some pills to make me feel stoned all day and not responsible for any thing I do or say? WTF, bring it on senility, give me a few extra bong hits of the shit!! PEACE

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