By Mike Weland
I came to the Boundary County Restorium on a rainy Wednesday, November 15, nervous. Scared. Trying to put on the air of Cool Hand Luke as the Restorium bus pulled up and I rode my chair to the side, waiting for the door to open. Not where I pictured I’d be when I grew up, but here I was … make the best of it. Be smart, capable. Look cool as is possible and make the best of it. I allowed a damp mist to converge and mingle with my tears as I waited to board the conveyance that would carry me away to “The Home.” I’d seen “Happy Gilmore.” Above all else, boy … be cool … be
“The door’s back here!”
I think I’d forgotten or misplaced Kevin Schnuerle’s name half a dozen times since nurse Janet told me I’d been accepted for a room at the Restorium … a home … and that Kevin would be picking me up a few days hence, but it’s not slipped my mind since. He is the head of maintenance here … the man to call on when you need a picture hung, a box moved, a light bulb changed.
As temperatures plunged this weekend, water lines at the Restorium froze, as happens on occasion in buildings as old as this, yet no one, to my knowledge, worried or feared or fretted. Not staff, not resident.
And I didn’t have to ask why. Kevin, the do all and be all maintenance, emergency and “Oh, God, I have to have this taken care of yesterday if not sooner!” guy, was already here, on an icy Saturday morning … As toasty and pleasant as if it were a Tuesday in June.
I’m the baby of the Restorium family .. 65 last August … 20 years younger than most! This should be my house. I should be the center of attention, funniest. And when I least expect it, I am. Two beautiful people I’m blessed to share a table with remarked that their bibs matched.
“The Bibsy Twins!” I exclaimed … and brought down the house!
We had chicken noodle soup with corn bread tonight, and it was good.
Better than good, it was excellent. And kitchen staff, though food service was minutes late, were dropping everything to run out and calm a resident who did not now and would not ever need anyone’s help! He could, however, raise a ruckus.
“Ma’am,” I called out to that beautiful but beleaguered woman doing the job of ten … “The brontosaurus in this soup … Is it fresh?”
The room got so quiet you could have heard a velociraptor toot.
I am by no means a wise man. If anything, I’m 20 feet shy of smart. But I remember “Happy Gilmore.” And having seen that movie, I know the pay for caretakers of the elderly is terrible, the benefits few. If it weren’t for being able to torture old folk, the only reason to work at a place such as this would be for the free meals.
Did I mention we had chicken noodle soup tonight? That staff was hustling? Being eyed askance by hens who could not wait?
I beg forgiveness … another thing I feared about being here was that I could not access the wisdom of the aged. That I would be cast blind amidst the wise who could see what I lacked, who would know what I couldn’t … and still I’d speak aloud … Chickens are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs!!
“The brontosaurus in this soup … does it seem stale?”
“The door’s back here!”