I love my job. I get to go to a nursing home and talk to old people who love to talk to me. Here are some things I heard today.
A woman who doesn’t realize she lives there, and is waiting to get picked up: “Oh, I knew this would happen again. I just hope someone comes to get me. But not my husband. He drinks. We live over the mountain and I won’t go with him if he’s been drinking. I don’t want to go over that mountain if he’s been drinking. Maybe my sister will get me. But this is what I’ve put up with the whole time I’ve been with him…his drinking. No, I won’t go with him if he comes.”
A woman who loves to send cards: “I’ve touched a lot of people in my life. But since I’ve lost my sight, it’s been hard to write those cards. I hope you never have to lose your sight, but God has blessed me. I’ve seen so many miracles in my life. I’ve got an angel looking over my shoulder…looking out for me. Tell your mom that you know an old lady with an angel looking out for her.”
A lady whose memory is leaving her: “What did you say your name is? And where are you from? Pennsylvania? Oh, that’s nice. What are you studying in school? I’m a nurse. Yeah, I work here now. Where did you say you’re from? Have you got any brothers and sisters? Four sisters? I don’t have any brother’s and sisters. I’m an only child. Isn’t that a shame? Did I tell you I was a nurse? Where are you from? Have you got any brother’s and sisters? I’m an only child you know. Isn’t that sad? I’m a nurse you know. So where are you from? ……”
A man who moments earlier had finished what he wanted of his water, and turned his still-half-full cup upside-down, dumping the remaining water on the carpet: “What’s that rope hanging down your back? It’s your hair? I like that. I like that a lot. I grew up with six of those. I had six sisters and three brothers, and my mom made my sisters put their hair in braids like that before school ever day. Oh, yes I dipped some braids in ink wells, but I wasn’t alone. All the boys did that. I missed a lot of school. I always stayed home and helped my mother with whatever she needed. Every time she wanted to go on a trip – no every time she needed to go on a trip, because she never went unless she needed to – I took her. And I stayed home every Monday to help her with the laundry. I would hold the basket up while she hung the laundry so she wouldn’t have to bend down. Some months I would miss 27 days. But do you know, when they had a problem at school about how to build a cistern to hold a certain number of gallons, I took that home and I worked on it, and I brought the answer back the next day. And even the teacher couldn’t get that one. Now I’m not bragging, but I was good at solving problems. I didn’t always do well in school, but I could solve problems. You know the wagons that harvested the wheat? None of them could make a 90 degree turn. And when they turned they would push down all the wheat. That’s not good. There was just this one problem that stumped everyone, and I just thought about it and thought about it, and I prayed when I went to bed that night. And I’m not ashamed to tell you that, either: I prayed. And I went to sleep, and I woke up without an alarm clock or anything. God just sent a little fly buzzing near my ear to wake me up, and then I knew. So I made the first wagons to make a 90 degree turn, so they wouldn’t run over the wheat when they turned. And I think there are six factories that make those wagons now.” – This man’s story reminds me of several people I know, my own father included, who never enjoyed school, but have an amazing ability to work with real problems, and invent new things to solve those problems. That’s not the kind of intelligence they can measure with standardized tests.
-Wednesday, October 13, 2004


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