Another day at Clara’s. Yesterday I had a pretty hard time with her. I’m praying and creating that today will be much better. Working with Clara is a constant exercise of getting off the attitude, letting go of the opinion, shaking the water off my back. In each moment I have to choose to be free or in prison. I’m free when I see beyond her (or anyone’s) actions or comments and create new possibilities for myself and I’m in prison when I let her (or anyone) define who I get to be in any situation. Who I get to be is a powerful choice. I can be upset, happy, angry, miserable, excited, positive, negative, eager, powerful. No other person and no circumstance has complete control over that unless I release it. And even when I release that power, at any moment I can choose to take it back.
I did get some good rest last night. I didn’t go to bed early, actually it was very late, but I still slept very well and woke up refreshed. I woke up with an attitude to create my day and check in with myself. How am I? What am I happy with? How can I improve what I am not happy with? What am I unhappy with? Where is my integrity out? What can I do to put integrity in where it is out?
Yesterday and this morning I also thought about a girl’s group that I used to belong to when I was a little girl growing up in church. The group was called Rosebuds and I don’t know if that’s a name that St. Mark made up or if that was actually an organized group that existed in other churches. My guess now is that it’s something someone at St. Mark made up. Anyway, the age range was from maybe seven to twelve years old. Miss Williams was our leader. I think. We met once a week in the back room of the church where we discussed various lessons that were specifically designed for girls. What stands out now is that each week we had to recite in unison the Rosebud motto which was “I’ll gladly try.” Miss Williams would ask a series of questions and together we would repeat the motto. “So if someone asks you to do something what do you say?” We took a deep breath and let it out “I’ll gladly try.” “Well what if you don’t feel like doing anything?” Another deep breath. “I’ll gladly try.”
Don’t get me wrong here, I think it’s great to teach a group of young girls to gladly try. I believe the purpose of having us repeat the motto was to enforce the idea of possibility into us. The problem, if it can be called a problem, is that there was no next level class for young ladies where we learned to check in with ourselves and see if the request being made honored who we were and whether or not we could with any degree of integrity fulfill the request. No, every request is not met with “I’ll gladly try.” Our motto that we raced to shout left no room for us to say “no.” Not only that, it left us, if I may speak for us, feeling that there was something sinfully wrong if we did. That teaching, with nothing to follow it, trained young girls to be good sheep who didn’t use our own minds or connect to the God power within us all.
I grew up that good girl. And it was odd to me as a little girl when Rev. Hunter would kiss me. I often felt his strawberry soda tasting tongue touch my tongue. Even slightly was too much. I shouldn’t know his favorite soda. But I did. And young, good girls who gladly try don’t put reverends on blast. Where was the class for that?
C: Hello! Hello!
Me: Here I am.
C: I need a diaper change.
Me: I’ll go ahead and give you your bath now.
After the bath.
Me: Are you ready for breakfast?
C: Well of course. What do you think people do in the morning?
I have resolved to have a peaceful day. I will not be sucked into her argumentative drama.
Me: (Bringing breakfast tray) Here you go.
C: Thank you.
Me: You’re welcome.
Ten minutes later.
C: Hello! Hello! Help!
Me: Here I am.
C: I need a diaper.
Me: You have one on.
C: I’m about to urinate.
Me: Ok go ahead.
C: Well I’m not going to urinate with my breakfast tray on my lap. Put it on the dresser.
C: Why are you putting my bed down flat?
Me: So I can change you. Are you finished urinating?
C: Of course.
C: Why is my breakfast all the way over there on the dresser? It’s going to get cold!
Me: I put it there to change you.
C: What?! I didn’t hear you and you speak so fast nobody knows what you’re saying.
Me: (Louder) You asked me to put it there because you had to urinate.
C: Well I’m not here to argue with you about where my breakfast is!
I changed her and put her bed up so she sits upright.
C: I would like to have my breakfast before it gets cold!
Me: Ok. Here you go.
I put her breakfast tray along with her Sunday newspaper and coffee on her lap.
Yesterday Caren came in at 6 instead of 7 because I was assigned to train her for an hour. Caren is Mexian and doesn’t speak English very well. Clara treats her very disrespectfully. Constantly correcting her grammar and making her repeat her like she’s a child in school. While I was training Caren on how to transfer Clara (move her from one location to another), Clara said something. One of her usual mean racist comments. I don’t even remember what it was. It was so not out of the ordinary that it passed right by. Well it stuck onto Caren. It was about 6:30 and after twelve long hours I was excited about getting off. Caren got upset and said that if Clara was going to be in a bad mood then she wasn’t going to stay. She didn’t feel like dealing with her mood.
Me: So you’re just gonna walk off?
Ca: Yeah, I call the office now and tell them I have to go! She not gonna treat me that way tonight. I can’t take it today. Somebody die in my family!
C: Well I’m certainly sorry for her loss but this isn’t about the death of her family member. This is about my health.
It greatly bothered me that Caren would try to put me in a position to have to stay even longer than I had already been there. I did feel for her regarding the death of her relative but if she knew her family member died before she got here why did she even show up? Any open wound you have, Clara is reliably going to trigger. Caren didn’t even seem to take me into consideration at all. I finished cleaning Clara then quickly put the laundry away and at 6:53 I told Caren that if the company was sending a replacement then she was going to have to wait for her because I was leaving. And I left.
This morning Caren was here when I arrived, so either she called the office and they declined sending a replacement or she didn’t call after all. Either way, I wouldn’t want to work with her again.
I start another long shift at Debra’s tomorrow. I don’t mind though. I go in tomorrow morning at 8 and get off Friday morning at 8.
C: Yes, I want to make a call. Is there a phone I can use?
Me: Sure, it’s right here. Before you dial just hit this button right here.
C: And do I have a diaper on?
Me: Yes you do.
C: (Smiling) Ok, thank you.
I am watching the news and they are now reporting a case of suspected road rage in Silverlake where a man was shot in the head. I missed whether or not the man was killed. Wow.
It’s a pretty quiet day with Clara today. She’s in her room reading the Sunday paper and I’m in the living room writing and listening to the television in between the light work in the house. This is lovely.
C: Hello! Hello!
C: Yes, I would like a diaper change.
C: Um, is today Saturday or Sunday?
C: Would you turn to channel 7? I don’t want to miss 60 Minutes.
Me: The television is in the living room. Would you like to go in there?
C: No. I don’t want to risk falling again. I’ll stay here.
Seven seconds later she was asleep.
About seven hours and thirty minutes before I can go straight home. I’m looking forward to that. Not much to do here today. I like this.
C: Do I have a diaper on?
Me: (Shouting from the bathroom) Yes you do!
C: What time is it?
C: I thought it was much later than that.
We are both counting down to some event. She to 60 Minutes and I to going home.
C: It’s lunchtime right?
Me: Yes. (Bringing lunch)
C: It seems like I just had breakfast, my goodness. Um, I’d like to watch TV please.
Me: Ok sure. Would you like to go into the living room now?
C: If that’s what I have to do. So, ok, you’re strong enough to lift me, so ok. (Pause) Thirty SEALS killed!
C: You didn’t know that?
C: The most deadly incident…
Byron Allen’s show is on right now. This show is called Having A Dream. They are talking about Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.
C: Is it his birthday?
C: This lunch is good. I got her to put more onions in the tuna.
I noticed that when we sit in the living room together she sits on the big couch and I sit on the white smaller couch to the left of her. When I’m here I think she thinks I’m a friend of hers. She’s not usually looking at me so she only hears me on this couch. The TV is facing the other way so she just hears my voice coming from behind her. The couch I’m sitting on was probably a couch reserved for special guests. She’s not aware that she speaks about me to me when we are in the living room together. I like her better in here. I don’t have to keep running back and forth in the bedroom.
C: Isn’t that just a sad situation?
Me: What is?
C: Well, the Kennedy’s of course.
Me: It sure is.
C: Little Carolyn had to watch her father die, then her uncles one by one.
Me: That’s sad.
C: It’s a shame you know. They didn’t even tell me they were bringing me home and it’s my home and people are all here using my space and things.
She has had a story that hospitals are closing and they need good people (like her) to open their homes to the patients.
Me: No one else is living here.
C: Well sure there are.
Me: No. There aren’t.
C: Well surely it wasn’t always that way. (Pause) What are they talking about?
Me: Martin Luther King, Jr.
C: Is it his birthday?
C: Back during the war it was so hard to get a place around here. People all over the city were sitting on the streets with their furniture.
C: Well not everyone of course. (Pause. Going through mail) It says here that the City of Hope has earned the highest overall rating blah blah blah. Yes. They’re in my will too. Them and my church. (Pause) So anyway, where was I? Well, I don’t remember, but my husband is from Utah. His family used to be one of those dumb mormans but then his mother was too smart to believe all of that so… (Pause) So do I have a diaper on?
C: So if I want to have a bm you think I can go in this diaper?
C: Well, I’ve never done that before. Do I take my pants off if I go in my diaper?
Me: No. Don’t take them off.
C: Well if it leaks through, can I rub it in your face? (She laughs)
Me: Sure. (I don’t laugh)
C: I’ll let it go. You won’t run away will you? I’m doing a urine movement right now.
C: Are you ok?
Me: Yes, thank you.
I have a peaceful feeling now. I am looking at the garden and watching the orange flowers. I don’t know names of flowers. Maybe I should learn them. Or maybe not. I have no knowledge of what flowers are rare and which grow plentifully. I love them because I do. Like I love people. I love them because I do.
She’s waking up. I’m on the white couch.
C: Oh, you’re going to have to excuse me for not entertaining you. My very special guest.
Me: Oh, it’s ok.
C: How often do I get up there to see you? (In singing voice) Not very often.
C: Am I being rude lying here while I’ve got a guest?
Me: No, I’m not a guest, I’m the caretaker.
She’s back asleep already. Talking again. To her dream people. Her ghost people.
Four hours to go.
You are too hard on yourself. You judge yourself and criticize and never seem to acknowledge the good you do. Give yourself a break. You look for every area where you are not absolutely perfect (and that’s every area) and you dwell on those areas as if anyone could meet the standards you set for yourself. As if you could ever meet them. Ease up chick and love yourself.
Me: I’ll gladly try.
C: What I’d like to have that I haven’t had in a long time is a good pizza.
We are watching a movie called Imagine Me without You. It’s about a woman in London who had a husband but fell in love with a woman.
C: Oh my, can you imagine being a mother who had a daughter who was a lesbian? I would be horrified. I would wonder what I did wrong. You know I have a niece who is a lesbian.
C: I can’t imagine. I mean good girlfriends sure but…no. But my niece has been a lesbian for a very long time. (Pause) I can see having a good girlfriend but not falling in love with them sexually in that respect you know.
C: I’m sure most of my friends think I’m gone.
C: Because I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. Did you?
Me: I just call.
Me: Here, let me put this pillow behind your neck.
C: Oh, thank you very much.
C: If there is any food that you want, you just go ahead and help yourself.
Me: Thank you.
C: Oh sure. (Pause) You know, isn’t it a shame how they just wiped out the Kennedy’s like that?
Me: It is.
C: Three of them they just wiped out like dirty dogs. You know, Ted Kennedy always talked on his cell phone. He was one of the first people to even have a cell phone. You know the cell phones cause brain cancer and that’s how he got it.
C: Well of course. And, you know I have a classic car don’t you?
C: It’s a Mark VIII. They sent me a letter saying that they wanted to buy it back. But when I called then they never called back.
C: No. The girls that answered the phone never even jotted down the message and gave it to the manager. You wouldn’t think they would be that way with jobs the way they are.
C: Well, you know Jay Leno collects classic cars.
Me: I know.
C: I should just contact him and see if he wants to buy it.
C: I’ll give you a cut if you want to handle it for me.
Me: Would you like more coffee?
C: That’s a good idea.
I didn’t make up my bed/ I didn’t mail in my timesheets yet/ I need to get stamps/ You can get stamps at the ATM now right/ I love Uraeus/ I sent Reuben a text and he didn’t text back/ I want to pick Uraeus up Friday morning when I get off work/ I need to get an oil change/ Should I go to Jiffy Lube/ Jiffy Lube is the best/ Are they going to say I need extra work/ I should get the oil changed after work on Friday morning/ I haven’t been skating in a long time/ Is Candy going to send my books from Georgia/ I want my books/ I want my clothes and purses too but really my books/ And my coats and sweaters too/ Is that movie The Help really good/ I’m the help/ My goodness/ Who is even reading this/ What is Val doing now/ She should move to L.A./ It would be fun to go thrift store shopping with her/ If I die before she does then I want Val to preach my funeral/ Who thinks of things like that/ If I die before my mother it’s ok if my body is at the funeral but really I would like to be creamated/ How do you even spell creamated/ I’m a weirdo/ So what/ I’m not a weirdo/ I’m just ready to get off work and writing helps the time go by/ And it’s fun
Wow, the man who was shot in the head in what was believed to have been road rage did not die! They are saying now that he’s fighting for his life. His name is David Vasquez.
I’m praying for you David Vasquez.