“Are you a volunteer here?” (8/16/12)

today i went down to spend some time with my bff:  my 94-year-old white grama.  she has been in a nursing home for the past year and a half and has recently been admitted to hospice care.  i typically just go down and sit with her these days – her sight and hearing are long gone and she has been descending into dementia for a while now.  as you can imagine, this is difficult.  but i go down there and sit next to her, hold her hand, stroke her hair, and listen to her abbreviated ramblings that give way to moments of lucidity.

today was nice, i got there before dinner and she was out in the common area so that’s where we had our visit.  i sat close with her and eventually brought her over to dinner with a couple of other residents.  there’s assigned seating so i’ve been there with grama and her table mates several times before.

it still irritated the hell out of me when her table mate asked sweetly, “are you a volunteer here?”

yes i’m a volunteer that sits close, kisses, hugs, holds hands, and is generally very tender and intimate with this one particular resident on several occasions.

the problem with not looking like your family is that people don’t assume that that’s your family, even if based on your behavior family is the most reasonable description.  i get called over, asked to put on bibs, and my attention is fought for because i must be some volunteer that’s showing this one old lady more attention than the others.

it’s not new, i’ve been in variations on this situation throughout my life.  but it’s especially not appreciated right now.

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