wings and things

Lost and found 2

During one of my shifts in the nursing home the other evening, I was chatting with one of the carers who had come down to the dementia house to help with supper (in order to give the carer I was working with her own supper break). As we made the milos, and cups of tea and served the ten women residents, she chatted about how much she liked Anthony and loved working in his section (high care). She even described situations in which, when he was asking for me, she would quip, “Well I’m your mate too, buddy!” and they would share a bit of banter despite the fact that his retorts are now mostly whispered.

On the days when I am not on duty but simply sitting with Ants in his room, this particular carer will drop in and banter with Ants while I watch, happy and grateful that she, and many of the other carers, domestic staff, kitchen staff and supervisors, like him so much.

I have now told all of the staff to answer his constant question of “where is Jules?” with “Jules will be back soon.” This works quite well in covering the hours I am not there – early morning/late evening – but it probably wouldn’t work if I didn’t spend big portions of the daytime with him.

Anyway, I told this particular carer that he used to be a very loud, laughing, life-of-the-party bloke and she was amazed. I was a bit amazed by her amazement until I realised that of course he now presents as a very quiet, sleepy, incoherent, expressionless old man, diminished by the Parkinson’s.

Now that we are entering the fourth year of Anthony’s time in the nursing home, his physical deterioration is starkly evident however his ability to smile has come back! I am thrilled because for a couple of years there was no smile – not because he was unhappy exactly; it was more to do with his facial muscles not working due to the PD.

Around a year ago I made it my goal to make him smile every single day and I mostly tried this with banter, teasing, tickling, dancing, toilet jokes (sigh), and funny reminiscences. Well, this has worked! And the fact that some of the carers understand/intuit his need for banter, and play the game, is brilliant.

To see this beautiful man’s lost smile come back is the most amazing gift; it takes a bit of conjuring but it always happens and it is like magic to me! When I leave him to come home all of the tears I might have shed are absorbed into a great big grin.

Lost and found: Anthony’s smile.