Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sappy Love and Book Club

So normally I like to tell people I'm a tough cookie and that I don't cry very often. But when it comes to good romantic stories, I'm a big baby. I just watched Safe Haven because IT'S FINALLY ON NETFLIX and I've been waiting to rent it since the day it came out. I balled my eyes out at the end because of the beautiful story and sentimental value it has to me.

I have a friend at the nursing home that I've been wanting to write about. For reasons involving HIPAA regulations, I can't say her name on the internet. However, considering the memories we've created, I don't think I'll have trouble connecting the dots in my head in years to come. I met her about a year ago, when I first started my job. At times, she is restless at night and it seemed upon training that my co-workers had a hard time remedying her anxiety. So I decided to start reading to her. The first book we read wasn't that great, but it was funny because, seeing as how my reading calmed her down, other aids started doing the same thing. All of the sudden, I would open the book, and it would be several pages ahead of what we were at the night before. I'd say to her, "Hey! Have you been letting other aids read to you? I thought that was our thing?!" At that point I knew I cared for her more than the boundaries of my work setting.

I have a particular memory of my time with her that I really cherish. It was the night of her husband's funeral. Well over 50 years they had been together. She had just had not only an exhausting day, but an entire two weeks that had left her fatigued physically, emotionally and mentally every night. Her daughters were with her and I was helping her get ready for bed, a routine I have down to a T from the countless nights I've been with her. I handed her the denture container to take out her teeth thinking nothing of the act but more so trying to be as gentle as possible knowing the fragile state she was in. Out of nowhere I hear her two daughters laughing as they stare at their mother. I look at them, then look back at her as she starts laughing too. I realized that her daughters had never actually seen their mother without her teeth before. I started laughing with them and a lump in my throat formed. I was in the midst of this intimate family moment, after one of the hardest days of their lives. It's almost as if I shouldn't have been there.

This spring I picked a book for us to read: Save Haven. Now, I have read Nicholas Spark's novels before and I'm pretty sure he is one of the greatest romantic novelist of my time! Maybe it's the numerous films that have been produced from his books, but he has a crazy unbelievable way of making a woman cry (Kuddos Mr. Sparks). So biased I was, I was going to make sure NO ONE else would read this book with us.

We would leisurely read, some nights we'd get a number of chapters done, other nights I'd be so busy that we wouldn't have time at all. But it was a constant flow of progress. I knew, however, that I was crunched for time, seeing as how I had to leave for New York soon. I'd work my ass off some nights to guarantee I had a short 15 minutes to read to her. And by the end of August I was clocking out and running back upstairs to finish the last few pages of a chapter. The last day we read I wasn't even scheduled to work, but I was leaving town the next day. The few pages remaining had us both at the edge of our seats and by the end I was holding back tears. I gave her a long hug and she kissed me on the cheek. I tried to avoid thinking that that might have be the last time I would see her, but it's always unpredictable in long term care.

I formed a bond with her. Before I knew it, I was telling her about my boyfriend and family, and what I was working on in school. I've gradually gotten to know her family members by name through pictures and visits. She has taught me how to truly care for someone more so than simple daily routine. I think about her often and ask my co-workers to say hi to her for me. Though a pain in the neck at times, she is funny and sweet, strong and resilient. She warms my soul and I love her for it. No matter if I see her when I get back or if I have to wait until heaven, she's got a place in my heart and memories that will stay with me a very long time.

All that being said, I obviously highly recommend the movie. The book is better, as always, but it tugs on your heart strings nonetheless.

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