Wednesday, March 30, 2005

There was LULA and LOLA and let's not forget

Carrie and Julia. Today was my first day volunteering at the Convalescent hospital about a mile from my house. I am not doing it for Karma, because I don't really believe it exists and if it does.. I am not sure what the details are.. so I am doing it for mostly selfish reasons. I need a wake up call from time to time that reminds me that I am not getting any younger... that my body won't maintain itself and that I shouldn't waste time on the wrong things... sure the last one is relative, but we all know in our hearts what the "wrong" and the "right" thing is at any given moment, but we chose to ignore it.

So I was thrown into the fire as soon as I arrived... no orientation.. no nothin. There were about 5 older ladies in wheelchairs sitting around a few tables and Puni, the assistant to the head of volunteers, was giving manicures. She said "great" we need help.. so in I went... introduced myself and hoped that most of them could hear me. I don't get manicures very often, but I do enjoy giving them... I used to give manicures and pedicures to my grandfather on the weekends when I spent my summers in Colombia.. I also gave manicures and bad haircuts to anyone who would lend me their head. Looking back I can't believe anyone let me. I was only 12 or so. No one was hurt.

So, nervously, I set forth to soak Lula's hands in warm water. I don't think she was all there, but she didn't know it, so it didn't matter. I cleaned under her nails and had to tell myself that a little dirt and food was no big deal.. and it actually wasn't. I figured that if she was my mom or grandma.. I wouldn't care... so I took a deep breathe and cleaned every one of Lula's nails carefully as to not hurt her. The elderly are a lot more sensitive to pain. So I filed a little using one of the really crappy used nail files that they had and then Lula picked the brightest ass red/orange I had ever seen. I painted her nails and she was a pretty good sport. I was later informed that Lula doesn't like anyone and I was lucky she didn't curse me out. She didn't. She just thanked me and smiled. Oh, I'm sure she'll curse me out at some point.

Then I moved onto Lola. She was only in her 70's.. quiet, but I think "all there" mentally. She smiled and was very sweet. I also gave them hand massages. She was black and her skin was a lot younger that Lula's. Lula's was white and paper thin. So when it came time to choosing a nail color.. I presented her with about 5 colors and she chose 3. "you want me to do all three? , I asked and she quietly replied.. yes. So I used a bright red, metallic mauve and cotton candy pink. She seemed happy, but asked if I had any gold. I showed her a copper and a silver and she told me she wanted me to paint over one of the colors with the silver, so I did.

Carrie, whose nails I did not do, sat on the other side of the table where Puni patiently painted and repainted her nails after Carrie would ruin them. Carrie is a small framed black woman about 80 years old. She says "baby after every word. So funny. "Baby come ear and tell me watcha gonna do, okay baby." She was not all there, but so cute. After all the nails were done, I walked up to her and mentioned that she should turn her yellow stuffed animal fox over cus it couldn't breathe. She was quite startled and flipped it over. Puni suggested that I not say things like that to Carrie because she might very well have a heart attack. And baby we don't want that to happen.

And finally, there was Julia. Julia just turned 104. She was hispanic and I believe did not speak a word of english, but it seems like everybody got by ok. she was little and then big around the middle and then little again. She drooped in her chair and had to be strapped in. She was like a little Hershey's kiss. She seemed happy and her nails looked great.

The last 30 minutes of my day were spent putting lotion on the hands of mostly catatonic patients. I spoke to them and hoped that they could hear me. It was weird, but oh well. I don't know quite how I feel. I am happy that I got to help. I have a feeling that i will become the regular manicure giver. They do it every Wed at 1:30.


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