“Go, Cat, Go!”
During my days at the nursing home we had one patient who had been a famous dancer. He had a fascinating life and I wish I could tell more, but to protect his and his family’s privacy I’ll just call him Mr. K.
One of our other residents was over four hundred pounds and had a special wheelchair built to accommodate his weight. Whenever his chair was unoccupied, Mr. K would sprint over and sit in it, refusing to leave. His small size in the big chair, accompanied by an impudent grin, made him look like a small child. We could beg, plead, bribe; nothing would work. The more exasperated we became, the bigger he grinned. All we could do was wait him out- and try to make sure the chair always had someone else in it.
One day I brought in a Glen Miller CD, hoping to spark some memories. One of the residents began to cry, saying it was the most beautiful music he had ever heard, but it didn’t seem to have any effect at all on Mr. K.
Until I started to dance. It was just a goofy, flailing sort of a dance I did to make one of the other patients smile, but it really excited Mr. K. His eyes got big, his smile got wide, and he pumped his fist in the air shouting “Go, Cat, go!”
A few days later Mr. K sidled up next to me and said softly, “I know my mind is going. I just want to have the best time I can, for as long as I can.” He grimaced, nodded once resolutely, forced a smile, then walked away.
And a few weeks later, he was gone.
I had been kind of shy about sharing my nursing home stories. I didn’t want to turn my former patients into victims or objects of ridicule. But after reading some wonderful stories about mentally challenged adults by astijake John on his blog Willing Yourself to Win, I decided to take the chance. If you like my stories, you’ll love his.