Vernon is out of isolation again, which means he is free to leave his room if someone is kind enough to move him. He also has a room-mate for the first time in 6 months. We had brought the record player and some of Vernon’s old albums, but we didn’t want to overwhelm this new patient on his first day, so we wheeled Vernon to the community room, looking for some space that we could make some noise. Though the kids were into the music, Vernon seemed more interested in convincing us to take him elsewhere…anywhere! The hard thing about his growing awareness is that he knows the facility is not his home. It must feel like a bad dream at times, in which he can’t convince anyone to help him escape.
We couldn’t play records for too long because the weekly Bingo players started lining up about a half hour before the 2:00 game was due to start. It’s apparently the big Sunday event.
Vernon wasn’t ready to socialize or get involved but the kids were up for the game. So we parked Vernon next to the table and took our seats.
Justine had never played before but she ended up winning four rounds. Beginners Luck RULES! There were some other young folks there: a couple of grandchildren (and a son) keeping patients company at the game table. It felt like a surreal family reunion, where you didn’t actually know anyone else, but all ages were welcome and accepted.
Sometimes I well with tears because I think about Vernon’s plight and how the future seems so uncertain. Other times, I well up thinking about the kids and how amazing they are. They were so open to trying something new and taking part socially in the care home, I am truly bursting with pride. These moments are the ones that make me realize that all will be okay. They are learning to be citizens of the world, unafraid of uncomfortable social boundaries, realizing early that life is life, even if it includes sickness, aging, and discomfort. They are still finding ways to embrace what they have in front of them, and even find the fun in in when it’s there. I have a feeling if they know we will be visiting Vernon on Sunday afternoon, they’ll want to make sure the timing aligns with the Bingo game.
I had several comments from some of the other patients and patient’s visitors about Vernon…how they have noticed he’s talking and interacting more than before. One person came up to me and said: “Are you Vanessa?” I explained that I wasn’t but that its what Vernon usually calls me these days. She said that he had pulled her aside and said: “I like waking up to Vanessa. She makes me happy when she is here.” Ok, Vanessa, if you are reading this: I know its a bit strange. But Even though the names are mixed up, it was so sweet to get this feedback.
Speaking of names, Vernon got one right consistently today. Justine. He usually calls her Jemima or something similar. But he nailed it this afternoon…and could barely take his eyes off her. This is another reason I’m thankful he is out of isolation. She didn’t seem to mind his extra attention one bit.