Monday, September 20, 2010


There are two relationships in my life that I have had questions about recently. I would like both of them to develop further, but I've worried that neither of them are moving in that direction -- or moving anywhere. After a lot of patience, I had two breakthroughs this past weekend with each of them.

The first is my 97-year-old Hospice patient, Celine. She has Alzheimer's and, of course, she's 97, so my expectations of our relationship aren't quite what they'd normally be. Still, I sometimes wonder if there's really any point in my being there; she obviously enjoys it, and we sit and chat together and have fun, but does she remember the visit five minutes after I've left? Does she have any idea of who I am week to week? If I miss a week, does she notice? After all, she sometimes forgets to go to the bathroom, or how to put on her shoes, or that her sisters have died.

Yesterday we were sitting and talking as usual, as Celine repeated many of the same phrases I've heard so many times -- "I'm so glad you dropped by!" "I think these rings are on the wrong fingers. I'll switch them," "You're my big doll. I call you my big doll," and "I wonder what happened to my white shoes?" among them. Then, out of the blue, she turned to me and asked, "And how has school been? You're a teacher, right?"

It was amazing. You could have knocked me over with a feather, even if at the same time as she asked this question, she was eating a cheese doodle and commenting, "My sandwich is quite tasty." The mind certainly works in mysterious ways. Still, it's good to know that part of her is there listening to me, some of the time at least. When I left, she clasped both my hands in hers and said, as she's said many times before, "Please don't forget to come back and visit." For the first time, I believed that she'd miss me if I did forget.

The second relationship I've worried about is with my lovebird, Persil. Poor Persil has huge shoes to fill (and such small feet to fill them!). Everyone knows that my former lovebird, Haricot, was the most amazing, lovable pet ever. I used to leave his cage door open at night so that in the morning he could fly to bed with me and we could cuddle; he'd take naps inside my nightshirt, curled up on my belly. It took a very, very long time for Haricot to come out of his shell and be the sweet little parrot he was, so I knew I'd have to be patient with Persil, but there have been moments since I got Persil in late July when I felt like he wasn't making ANY progress at all. He actually was making progress -- he would eat millet when I held it up to him, he'd let me put my face close to his, and he'd step up onto a stick for me -- but I never got any indication that he LIKED me. It's like we were living parallel lives in the same small bedroom.

After I got back from the nursing home yesterday, I was sitting on my bed, typing on my computer -- just as I am doing now -- when Persil hopped up to me. For a few seconds I didn't even notice. In the back of my mind I was thinking, oh, here comes Haricot. Then, very tentatively, he came a little closer, and finally put one toe up onto my keyboard. As soon as I lifted a finger toward him, he stepped back, so I just kept all my fingers on the keys. He stepped a millimeter closer, leaned down, and gingerly nibbled on my finger. A few seconds later and he had flown back to his usual hangout, the windowsill.

Today when I came home and opened his cage door, I hoped he'd come over to me again. But he didn't; he's back on his windowsill, chirping away as if yesterday never happened. But now that it's happened once I know it will happen again. I just have to be really, really patient.

1 comment:

  1. Both relations have varying emotions with them but then its complicated emotions which make for interesting relations