Why bother raising the dead?
In my junior year of high school I landed a job as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home. It felt like my first real job. I had a uniform, regular hours, and a weekly paycheck.
Old people did not scare me. Most of them were friendly and more than happy to converse. It didn’t bother me that they mistook me for their granddaughter, or niece.
After a few days, I passed the first phase of the job, changing bed sheets and wheeling non-ambulatory patients to the dining room. Then I moved into the second phase; learning to get a patient up from their bed and into a wheelchair.
Nurse Nancy, a cheery woman with a nurse’s cap set on top of her auburn wavy hair, was my boss. Her sunny disposition melted a resident’s crankiness into cooperation and I quickly realized the benefit. When a person cooperated, as they did with Nancy, it made it easier to get them out of bed.
My first day with Nancy was going well until she was called away and I was left alone.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can. Patsy is next on our list. She is usually cheerful and easy to manage. I’m sure you’ll do fine,” Nancy assured me, as she hurried down to the nurse’s station.
I opened Pansy’s door and greeted her with my most confident and pleasant voice. The room was dark, so I opened the curtains letting in the afternoon sun. Patsy, sound asleep did not stir.
Keeping up a one way conversation about the lovely weather and the delicious dinner that awaited her, I rolled her wheelchair close to her bed and locked the wheels. Then I opened her closet and chose a brightly colored robe, and found her slippers. Setting them on the end of her bed, I surveyed Patsy. She still had not moved.
I opened her bedside table setting out her hair brush and eye glasses. I was ready. Still, Patsy did not stir.
Feeling my confidence waning, I assessed; how do I move an uncooperative person. Taking a deep breath, I uncovered her and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She did not sit up, so I placed my arms under her armpits and lifted her to standing pivoting her into the wheelchair. She was not light.
I’d given up conversing with her and instead, put her robe on her, backwards, brushed her hair and put her eye glasses on her face. I did not bother putting her teeth in. I could come back for those later, I reasoned, once she was awake and sitting at the table.
Feeling successful, I opened her door and wheeled her out into the hallway. Seeing Nancy coming toward me, though, I sensed I’d done something wrong. Nancy wasn’t smiling. She turned the wheelchair around and I followed her back into Patsy’s room.
“I just got the news; Patsy passed away on the previous shift,” Nancy whispered to me. “I’ll help you put her back to bed.”
Embarrassed and concerned I could lose my job, Nancy and I carefully placed Patsy back into her bed.
“I don’t know how you managed to get her up, but you are obviously a tenacious individual,” Nancy said, finally smiling again.
When I got home that night, I looked up the word tenacious, having never heard of it before. “Steadfast, determined, resolute, and purposeful.” No one had ever said those things about me before, nor had I realized that about myself.
Why bother raising the dead? What they have to tell you, might be worth hearing.