Saturday, May 17, 2008

Working with Seniors

Beach rock

So here we are finally getting some wonderful weather. It feels more like summer than spring though since it is in the high 80's here. So hubby has been bugging me about posting and I looked at the posts and realized it has been a while since I posted. So I figured it was time for a story. I guess this story is more of some small antidotes rather than a short story but here goes....

For those of you who know me you are probably aware that I used to work with senior citizens. I called them seniors and I never had a single person say they hated that reference. On the other hand most of my groups were very vocal about what they wanted to be referred to when it came to discussing their generation. These titles included elderly, wise ones, senior citizens, geriatrics, and our elders. They also were not wild about any thing generians either. So I referred to them as seniors. They thought of high school and I knew what I was thinking so we did well with this reference.

Pearl Harbor

Anyway, I need to go back a little ways to my mother and Pearl Harbor. When my mother was a small girl, my grandfather belonged to the Navy and they lived in Pearl Harbor. Grandpa was a doctor who worked at the Naval hospital there. When Pearl Harbor was bombed grandpa was working at the hospital. There were only 29 Japanese aircraft that were destroyed during this bombing. One of those aircrafts flew into the side of the hospital that my grandpa was working in. My grandfather announced the pilot dead. In each of the Japanese soldiers pockets was a small container that held pictures, private info and info that needed to be returned to the country they belonged to so the families could be notified of their death. The plane that hit the hospital was shot down by 5 different men who all dived for the same fox hole and started shooting at the plane. 3 of those men used their own weapons because they were holding them when the bombing began. (2 of the men said they were cleaning them, and one said he had just finished cleaning his and was putting it away.) All 5 of the men were given awards of valor for shooting the same plane down.

Pearl Harbor

Forward to when I was 17 and began working with the elderly as a nurse's aide. One day I was helping a senior into bed. He was a really nice man and he and I had developed a report. I loved his stories and he enjoyed talking with me. Anyway one night we happened upon the subject of WWII. I mentioned that my grandfather and my mom's family had been in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. Through his story I was able to find out that he had been one of the men who was awarded for shooting down the Japanese pilot. My father later met another man who was also awarded the same award and later when I moved to California with my family I met one of the three men in an Adult Day Health Care that I was working at. These three men knew one another when they were in Hawaii but lost track of each other throughout the years. Unfortunately we were not able to get all three of them together again. The computer was not around then and by the time I was able to contact the man I met in Spokane, he had passed away. Dad could not remember which of his customers was the one from Hawaii and the man I knew moved shortly after I met him. This short antidote has no real point. I just find that serendipity is really interesting when it is included with history that happened many many years in the past.

Pearl Harbor

As I got more experience working with seniors I became an Activity Director. I worked in a variety of homes and settings for the elderly and was honestly honored to have met so many incredible human beings. I was the butt of many many jokes though and I have to admit that one of my favorite jokes was about a phobia of mine. When I was in Ohio working as an Activity Director, I met a small group of women who played the ultimate joke on me. I had mentioned in a small discussion group that there were a variety of things I was not fond of. I also mentioned that snakes scared me to death! I mentioned almost running over my pregnant girlfriend to get out of the way of a very small (5-6 inch garter snake) and that one of the things I hated about Ohio was that the poisonous snakes in Ohio did not rattle. The ladies looked at each other and then piped up that yeah they did not rattle but if you smelled while you were walking you could tell they were around because they smelled like celery. I fell for it hook line and sinker. It was not until we had been walking out on the property that Dan noticed me stopping and smelling the air about every 5 or 6 steps. He had a good laugh at my expense when I told him why I was stopping. Did I mention "I Hate Snakes!!"


So I have posted about a few friends I made along the way. They are all dead now I am sure but their memories live on with me and so do their stories. I will have more in days to come, I am sure.

Stories on Whidbey Island.

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