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Helping in little ways at Fair Oaks

This being the year and the time helping others needs to be claiming center stage, I must mention that although Fair Oaks Lodge folks are no longer among those in the community who can help others in many ways, folks in a nursing home practice caring and helping each other in a myriad of ways never recognized. They do it all the time.

My thanks to nurse Polly Anderson for pointing this truth in our folks out, a case in point is Norbert Ament taking over the task of caring for the tomato plant his friend, Leon Sibert, had to leave when he was called to a better clime. Leon was proud of that plant.

Although wheelchair bound, Norbert didn't hesitate when he saw the need. Having been a farmer, he was well grounded in the area of neighbor-helping-neighbor, a trait that is disappearing all too fast now that cash is king.

Researcher Carolyn Schwartz of the Massachusetts Medical School claims there is no lack of proof that helping others is proven to be an effective tool in beating depression. Help others to help yourself. She believes it is the key to weathering the storms of life.

Who, other than another resident, can appreciate an act so slight as sliding a water glass closer, putting a call light on for a roommate, or adjusting a shade. I have entered rooms where a resident whispers on behalf of the person in the other bed: "Shhhh, he/she is finally getting some rest. He coughed all night."

One nurse interviewed mentioned the many instances she sees are the evidence of caring and kindnesses that take place each meal in the dining rooms. Years ago, in the late 1970s, eight or nine residents working together on a project made our lovely little chapel a reality.

It had floor-length, wine-colored velvet drapes that matched the carpeting. It cost more to have those drapes fire proofed than the drapes cost, but we all thought it was worth it. Fourteen area ministers and priests were at its dedication.

Television watching is an area that calls for special consideration as there is often only one in a room. In most instances watching schedules and volumes have somehow been settled between roommates. Ear phones provide great freedom where televisions must be shared.

Nature does not include kindness, tolerance, and caring in a newborn baby's makeup, just waiting to be developed. Nurturing does. Nurturing parents or caregivers instill those traits. That is why entire families sometimes are found to be cold and selfish while others are the opposite. It is the way they have been programed.

I often think of Rudyard Kipling's beautiful poem, the one that says, "When Earth's last picture has been painted/ And the tubes are twisted and dried."

If the horrific time Kipling speaks of ever comes, when there is a "last time" for helping and caring, I am betting the grocery money that it will take place in a nursing home somewhere, one resident quietly helping another.

Thank you Polly and Norbert for pointing this out.

An interesting happening this week was having a fox visit one of the bird feeders in broad daylight right in front of a resident's window.