Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I am a big pile o' sadness today, and I am just working on feelin' it and being present.

I have decided to let go of some of my volunteer commitments, and it's bringing up all sorts of emotions.

Two of my volunteer commitments are at convalescent hospitals that are down in my old town, the one I lived in 4 years ago, and I never gave up the jobs when I moved up here. One of them I refer to as visiting "The Ladies". For this volunteer gig, I was originally brought in to run a knitting group, but it didn't stay that way for long. Most of the knitters in the group quickly passed on, and in many cases, it turned that a good portion of them were really only at the facility temporarily for rehab. Some of The Ladies had knit at some point in their lives, but weren't able to knit any longer for health reasons, and some of the ladies who could no longer knit really did not want to be there at all. They were just sort of wheeled in there because of the state requirement to get every resident out of their room and into a daily activity.

Week after week I would show up with my knitting, and a bag of supplies for the ladies, and even some efforts at group projects....but really I was often in a room with a whole bunch o' people that didn't care about knitting (even a few who no longer cared about anything, really....some were not even in the alert category). None of us were having much fun. Sometimes one of The Ladies would call for a nurse and ask to go back to their room because they didn't want to be there. Yay.

After a year or so, I finally got the activities director to work with me to change it to an entirely different activity. I would come in once a week, and The Ladies and I would sit around loooong table. I would hand out magazines, and The Ladies would flip through them, kind of the way you might do it when you scan a magazine at the doctor's office. I made it a requirement that The Ladies would get pastries and coffee. After they settled in a bit, I would still show them what I was knitting, and they'd always oooh and ahhh, and then I would tell them stories about whatever was going on in my life...sometimes showing them pictures of things, like the new house, or MyFavoriteKid. I would then read bits of the newspaper to them, or maybe a short story, and then....before then end of our time together, I would go around the table to each one of them (it grew to be about 20 of them) and spend a couple of minutes chatting with them individually while the rest of them finished their magazines. One by one, I'd read each lady who wanted it their horoscope, and then we'd talk about how they were doing, and then they could either get a hug or a handshake from me if they wanted one. Some asked for both.

I always felt better every time I left, and for the ones that were still of right mind, they'd always look at me in the face and thank me for coming...even if their lips didn't work so well anymore.

And now I really need to stop going.

Between the visiting time, and the commute, and gathering of supplies and whatnot....well, I just need to divert that time and energy towards my own family right now.
Charity begins at home.

It kills me to say goodbye to The Ladies.
It's like telling your grandma that you are moving away and wont be able to visit anymore.
Except that it's like saying that to twenty grandmas, and it just makes me want to cry.

Some of them have just touched me so deeply, and it's also killing me a wee bit that I was never able to capture some of the magical moments I had there. Like the lady who would never talk to the nursing staff, and the nurses even said she wasn't able to speak....and yet I knew that she was from the Phillipines and lived in Chicago and used to love high heels and lipstick. She was a Leo.

Don't get me going again.
I've been weepy all day.

The truth of the matter is that I really don't have many friends....well, I mean, not friends that I see in the flesh all that often, I mean....and honest to god, some weeks these ladies were just about my only contact real physical contact with the outside world. Not seeing them anymore is really going to reduce my circle.....and not to blow smoke up my own arse, but I also know that my not being there is going to reduce theirs, too. I used to use the newspaper stories to get them talking around the table to each other, and we'd all tell stories and laugh, and they'd talk about days gone by. It was special for all of us.


I'm also having to make some changes to the second volunteer commitment....but I'll write about that another time.
I'm just too sad already to continue tonight.

5 comments:

M-H said...

::hugs:: That is all.

Jen Anderson said...

I know it's rough, but it's really the right choice for you right now. Maybe you can make some phone calls and try to get someone who still lives in the area to volunteer in your place.

Lorena said...

I love you. That is all.

not supergirl said...

I'm sad right along with you. You did a good thing with those ladies, though. And now the activities director has one more trick up her/his sleeve, thanks to you. Hang in there. Transition is hard; don't beat yourself up too much for being human. :)

Maggie said...

Many Blessings to you for the work you did, for the love and creativity you brought to these Ladies, for the time you spent with them.

Many Blessings to The Ladies for whoever shows up next, to bring them love and light of whatever new kind.

Many Blessings (I nearly wrote, "Blissings") to you for whatever shows up next to exercise that part of your heart.

Of course there is sadness. Of course there is well-deserved appreciation, too.

You ROCK!