One of my favorite residents passed away today.
E.G, Rest In Peace.
I have so many memories of E. from the past year of being her CNA. E. was super talkative, and was a "farmer's daughter from Ashland Wisconsin," as she would say, which explains why she loves drinking milk.
I remember my most recent memory of her was when my coworker and I were talking in anticipation of the weekend, saying
me: It's my Friday today!
N (my coworker): It's my Thursday, one more day to go!
E (whose wheelchair I am pushing): It's my Tuesday today!
(and then she cracks up, knowing full well that she was clueless about what was going on)
We were cracking up so much cos she was so funny, so adorable, and so friendly.
She could never get over the pull-up diapers and called them the "fancy panties" that she'd buy for herself when she moved "back home to Seattle." I dont know if she knew where she was.
I don't know what it is, but with E., so many of us had grown attached to her jokes and her demeanor. Always waiting for her kids to come (and they did come, just not as often as she thought they did, or wanted them to!), always talking about her hometown in Wisconsin, always talking about how her mom taught her to wash her hands after the bathroom, and how she felt wasteful for using more than 1 paper towel to wipe her hands till she saw me using 3 and didn't feel so bad after that, how she just always had that grin on her face when she saw us cos she knew she was the popular kid in the lunchroom. How dementia didnt yet take away that naughty gleam in her eyes.
Perhaps more importantly for me, as my mind often drifted into dwelling on the sadness and sense of loss that I have felt in the past year, E.'s voice breaking the monotone of my thoughts, asking me for this, or that, to go to the bathroom, or to get ice cream, or what, always brought me back to the present. Brought me back to the silent, humbling joy I felt for being able to do something for someone who needs it, in a very bare bones sort of way, in a very concrete and unpretentious sort of way, to be useful, as one life supporting another.
Till the past week, as she began to lose her alertness and her face sagged, unable to hold together her grin, mouth drooping, and her health declining, and she started to whimper "Mama, mama" every few minutes with her eyes barely open, me feeding her between her sporadic waking moments...It all happened very fast.
Maybe I needed her presence in my life, more than she knew, and more than I knew.