Hello everybody, I hope you are all having a wonderful day. On with my story.
We packed up the kids, the furniture I had in storage and moved to Ft. Wayne, Indiana. It was a good feeling to move into our own home again. I did not like living in a town home in an apartment complex with my family. I enjoyed and appreciated my in laws but this seemed normal again. Jimmy got a job at a bakery again and I got the kids registered back into school. Our subdivision had a pool which was more than welcomed. We had to explore this new city and we found one our favorite places to go was the Ft. Wayne Children’s Zoo. This Zoo let the kids feed the baby animals bottles of milk and ice cream cone full of their food. We tried to put things back to normal with small family birthday parties for Erik and Kristina and us, since we didn’t know anyone. Jimmy let the kids make his wonderful homemade pizza as part of the fun. Before school started we went to my sister Nanci’s cottage in Indiana and to the Gaeta Family Picnic.
I started looking for jobs again. I had to figure out how to work around Jimmy’s hours. He was working the day shift so that meant I would have to work the night shift. I also decided to focus on my photography again and entered some more KINSA contests. In just the second week I was second
place. In the fourth week I placed a honorable mention and in the fifth week I placed first and second place in the black & white entries. At the end of the contest I did not make the grand winner but I was one of the photographers that had a photograph sent on to the KINSA national competition.
Well I found a job at a nursing home and learned how to become a nurse’s aide. The first month was hard because the training was during the day, but after I passed and got my certificate I started
my new career as a nurse’s aide on the midnight shift. The only problem was we still had a three yr old at home. Regina learned to be resourceful on the VCR as she would put in tapes to watch as I took naps
and she would wake me up to feed her. I had to learn to get along with not much sleep. Dinner had to be made; kids had to get home work done, and hopefully a nap before I went to work again. My job was to check my group of residents twice in the middle of the night to see if they voided (wet the bed)
and if they did I would change them into dry clothes and bed linen. I also would have to get them up at the crack of dawn to get them ready for breakfast, by brushing their teeth, putting them on the toilet, and getting them dressed. Since I was a beautician I also carried a comb and would fix their hair and had a tube of pink lipstick and some blush to put on my female patients to make them feel beautiful in the morning. Yea, I am a geek. My mom always said a woman’s hair is her crown and glory and I truly believed for these elderly women it was. They would feel so special after I would fix them up.
School started and the holidays started rolling by. I let the kids decorate the Christmas tree and my in laws came down for Christmas. It was fun looking for gifts this year, and it seemed like Jimmy and I were going to be all right.
Than in time Jimmy had his hours changed to the midnight shift and so I had to change mine again. I have to say I really enjoyed taking care of these elderly people. I was so busy, and pretty
upset to see how some of the aides would hide in a patient’s room to watch a soap opera instead of taking care of their patients. I couldn’t even find the time to take lunch let alone watch TV with so much work to do. In time there was an opening in the beauty shop so I changed my beautician license to Indiana and started doing the residents hair. Some of the patrons at the beauty shop I recognized because I use to be there nurse aide. This is when I was first introduced to dementia. They didn’t seem to
know me, or they called me somebody else’s name (from their past) and would remind me that we were going out that night. I would just play along but one instant just broke my heart. One of the women I just loved one day came to the beauty shop door and very shyly asked me if I knew where she lived. She didn’t even recognize me. I think this is when I discovered my love for the elderly. I loved taking care of them, and trying to show them love and compassion.
I loved my hobby for photography, so I looked for a part time job as a photographer. There was a photography studio that was willing to teach me how to work medium format cameras. I was on cloud nine. So I worked Monday through Friday at the beauty shop in the nursing home and on the weekends sometimes shooting weddings because I was on call. I loved that job. I learned so much. I started to even take black and white pictures and use their dark room to develop them. They taught me so much about posing and arranging people along with the lightening, I only wished I could do it full time, but than people usually only get married on weekends.
It was now 1991 and my kids were adjusting back into school. Erik and Jennifer were playing soccer with the school teams. I use to take my kids to the nursing home on weekends just to walk down the hallways and say hi to the residents. Sometimes they would wheel a person around in their wheel chair just to make them smile. When it snowed we would make snowmen outside of the nursing home so the residents could watch my children make them and so they could have more days just to admire them.
Our families were supporting our decision to stay as a family as my parents came down to visit us in just before Easter and my in laws came on Easter. The summer got here pretty fast and we even got Regina in her first soft ball league. So now I had all five kids playing ball which was a chore in itself. Jim and I were busy with work and trying to keep up with the kid’s ball sessions of practices and games. We took the kids to Jelly Stone Park camping with my father in law’s help of course, plus outings like the beach and the zoo and My Aunt Peg and Uncle Bill came to visit which helped make the summer complete.
The summer finally came to an end with the kids back in school except Regina who was at home during the day while her father slept. One of my patrons at the beauty shop in the nursing home didn't think she had enough money to spend to get her hair done. So I made a deal with her, and she would watch Regina once a week in her room in exchange for a hair do. This was good for the two of them as they enjoyed each others company.
I also knew a man with the name of Julian from the nursing home. He was in his upper forties, and was a paraplegic. This man was about 16 yrs old when he jumped down from the roof of his home into his swimming pool hitting his head the wrong way and he was paralyzed ever since. When I was his nurse
aide I would take extra care with him. He was on the big side, so I would always ask for help getting him in his wheel chair. He could not use his hands since he was paralyzed so he was use to being fed. As I got to know him, I really enjoyed talking to him and became very fond of him. So sometimes on my days off I would come by and take him out to lunch in his wheel chair to a fast food joint. He deeply appreciated this since he otherwise never got any other kind of food except nursing home food.
It was finally his 50th birthday, and I remember this like it happened yesterday. I got my kids together, and put fifty candles on a cake for him. The staff told me I could only light half the candles because they were afraid of a fire. We came into the room and sang Happy Birthday to him, and he cried. He also needed help to blow out the candles which my kids were grateful to do.
It was that December that my family helped me make a special day for him. The nursing home would not let me have a wheel chair van so I wrapped him up for cold weather. Across the street from the nursing home there was a mall and I walked him outside towards the mall until we hit the movie theater. I remember him telling me he had not seen a movie since he was sixteen years old. So our Christmas present to him, was going to the movies on Christmas Eve. We saw the movie Curly Sue. He was so cute and Jimmy would get agitated because Julian would talk through the movie. But it didn’t matter
because except for us there was only two other people in the whole theatre.
I don’t remember the date but not much later Julian died. This was hard for my kids since they had gotten to know him and really love him. They each wrote poems or drew pictures and laid them on his body at
Well I think this is enough for today. I miss Julian, but I am happy for the fact that I got to know this wonderful man and that we got to be a part of his life even if it was for a short time. Remember life is short. So forgive, let go and really LOVE.
I am the Author
a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and still believe in the power of love &